The Substitution Order: A novel (Hardcover)

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From Martin Clark--praised by Entertainment Weekly as "our best legal-thriller writer"--comes a wickedly clever, tenderhearted, and intricately plotted novel about a hard-luck lawyer's refusal to concede defeat, even as fate, the court system, and a gang of untouchable con artists conspire against him.

Kevin Moore, once a high-flying Virginia attorney, hits rock bottom after an inexplicably tumultuous summer leaves him disbarred and separated from his wife. Short on cash and looking for work, he lands in the middle of nowhere with a job at SUBstitution, the world's saddest sandwich shop. His closest confidants: a rambunctious rescue puppy and the twenty-year-old computer whiz manning the restaurant counter beside him. He's determined to set his life right again, but the troubles keep coming. And when a bizarre, mysterious stranger wanders into the shop armed with a threatening "invitation" to join a multimillion-dollar scam, Kevin will need every bit of his legal savvy just to stay out of prison.
A remarkable tour of the law's tricks and hidden trapdoors, The Substitution Order is both wise and ingenious, a wildly entertaining novel that will keep you guessing--and rooting for its tenacious hero--until the very last page.

About the Author


MARTIN CLARK is a retired Virginia circuit court judge, who served twenty-seven years on the bench. His novels have appeared on several best-seller lists and have been chosen as a New York Times Notable Book, a Washington Post Book World Best Book of the Year, a Bookmarks Magazine Best Book of the Year, a Boston Globe Best Book of the Year, a Book of the Month Club selection, a finalist for the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction, and the winner of the Library of Virginia's People's Choice Award in 2009 and 2016. He received the Patrick County Outstanding Community Service Award in 2016 and the Virginia State Bar's Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award in 2018. Martin's wife, Deana, is a photographer, and they live on a farm with dogs, cats, chickens, guinea fowl, and three donkeys.

Praise For…


The Substitution Order is not merely a good legal thriller; it’s a great one . . . . Clark cleverly weaves together . . . a truly thrilling ending.” —Alafair Burke, The New York Times  

“The prizewinning Clark, a 59-year-old retired Virginia judge, has been compared to Carl Hiaasen and Nick Hornby. I would add ‘Better Call Saul,’ with its satisfying blend of satire and humanity. Clark’s appealingly imperfect hero, Kevin Moore, is less of a mess than Saul Goodman but just as unlucky.” —Richard Lipez, The Washington Post

“Once again, retried Virginia circuit court judge Martin Clark proves how adept he is at writing the contemporary legal thriller. The Substitution Order  is totally disarming. It never cheats; its clues are always in evidence. It is so tightly woven that its final chapter—its 'epilogue'—is going to leave readers smiling for days even as it brings an occasional tear to the eye. It is, in short, the best book so far from one of the South’s best-kept secrets.”  —Steven Whitton, Anniston Star

"Clark, a retired judge-turned-author, has been injecting new life into the legal drama in recent years. Now he’s back with another engaging, subversive story, this time about a Virginia attorney who finds himself disbarred and down-on-his-luck. Clark spins an intricate crime story around his protagonist, one that will draw readers in deeper and deeper, but the atmospherics and surprising relationships are what really drive the story." —Dwyer Murphy, Lit Hub

“Clark’s trademark witty prose and mind-bending legal plotting get a welcome workout in this engaging thriller in which blackmail, financial derring-do, technical wizardry, a canny bit of pet training, and a bucolic rural Virginia setting converge in a pleasurably heady mixture.”— Daneet Steffens, The Seattle Review of Books

“Exceptional . . . Clark does a masterly job combining Kevin’s plans to get himself out from under with a powerful portrayal of human frailty. John Grisham fans won’t want to miss this one.” — Publishers Weekly (starred)

"Deeply satisfying . . . Not nearly as well known as he should be, Clark is a retired Virginia circuit court judge [who] knows his way around the system, using the law as a foundation for novels that explore the rural South and the people who live there." —Kirkus Review

"The Substitution Order is remarkably lighthearted, in no small part because Clark has created likable and adaptable protagonists in Kevin and his sidekick, Nelson, the mongrel dog.  How they turn a doomed situation around is ingenious and unexpected." —Lorraine W. Shanley, Bookreporter

“Tightly plotted . . . In The Substitution Order, Martin Clark—often acclaimed as the country’s best writer of legal thrillers—tells the tale of Kevin Moore.  Clark writes crisply about encounters among people, and sharply of the shortcomings of the legal and health care systems. There’s plenty here to engage.”  —Claire Hopley, Washington Times

"A wickedly clever, tenderhearted, and intricately plotted novel about a hard-luck lawyer’s refusal to concede defeat, even as fate, the court system, and a gang of untouchable con artists conspire against him." —Civilian Reader

"Author Martin Clark, retired judge and master of colorful legal thrillers, is back with another page turner. Clark’s narrator is smart and observant, and the reader is in good hands throughout the quickly moving plot.” —Book City Roanoke
Product Details
ISBN: 9780525656326
ISBN-10: 0525656324
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: July 9th, 2019
Pages: 352
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