Opening Statements

A Novel Heroine


Pamela Samuels-Young.
Photo by Sir Harrison Photography

The plot of Every Reasonable Doubt unfolds true to the legal thriller genre, with one notable ex­ception: The main characters are black.

Author Pamela Samuels-Young loved reading legal fiction, but the heroines were never black female lawyers like herself. A journalism major and former television news writer, she decided to write her own novel while an associate at O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles.

“I wrote before work, and if I had business travel I wrote in the airport and hotels. I wrote all weekend,” says Samuels-Young. She spent vacations writing, too. Success wasn’t immediate. After Samuels-Young finished her first novel, she shared it with friends. She thought it was a masterpiece. They didn’t. So she did a rewrite and ended up with the manuscript for a novel called In Firm Pursuit.

While waiting to find a publisher, Samuels-Young wrote Every Reasonable Doubt. That book ended up published first, by Harlequin’s Kimani Press. Both books feature Henderson, who reminds some of the author.

Now a managing counsel for labor and employment at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. in Torrance, Calif., Samuels-Young says that her stories are inspired by legal work. The storyline from In Firm Pursuit involves the char­acter dealing with pretentious associates, smooth-talking opposing counsel and a husband who finds himself in a compromising position—as well as corporate greed, conspiracy and violence.

After reading her work, some described Samuels-Young as “John Grisham with a sister’s spin.” It’s a comparison she welcomes. “There’s no name for African-American legal fiction that’s really recognizable,” Samuels-Young says. “I’m hoping that name will be mine.”

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