Skip to main content

A House Divided

Review

A House Divided

Corbin Gage is an attorney in a small Southern town, though he’s not such a good one, as his heavy drinking interferes with running a law office well. His favorite lunch spot is a diner that sells moonshine under the table along with the meal, which impedes his ability to get much work done afterwards. Instead, he often naps away the afternoons. He has many cases left unfinished and lots of work he never quite gets to.

His drinking (others might call it alcoholism) has interfered with other things as well. He has alienated his family; his marriage was lost to divorce, and his relationships with his children are impeded. The only bright spot in his world is his grandson Billy, who doesn’t realize that Grandpa has a significant problem and loves him unconditionally.

Corbin is now facing another loss. His former wife, Kitty, has died of congestive heart failure. Although Corbin doesn’t know it, he has lost not only his wife, but the one person who faithfully prayed for him. 

"Fans of Whitlow’s books and newcomers alike will thoroughly enjoy this examination of the law in a desperate case --- which looks at what is right as opposed to what is legal --- and redemption in the life of the attorney committed to seeing the case through."

Roxy, Corbin’s daughter, is estranged from him. Having grown up in a home where her father’s life was ruled by alcohol, she detests him and avoids him as much as she can. Since she lives and works in Atlanta, this isn’t as difficult as it could be. His relationship with his son Ray, who lives in town, is somewhat friendlier. Interestingly, Roxy and Ray are both attorneys; Roxy works in a high-powered firm, while Ray serves in the local district attorney’s office. But Corbin’s drinking worries Ray and his wife, Cindy, especially with their son Billy regularly going fishing with his grandfather. They’re concerned that Corbin might drink while the two are together and endanger the boy.

One day, Corbin and Billy are out fishing. At one of their favorite fishing holes, they’re puzzled by dead fish floating on the water…for no reason at all that they can discern. Corbin has a cooler full of water bottles for Billy and mason jars of “mountain water” (aka moonshine) for himself. Perhaps not surprisingly, after dipping into the moonshine, Corbin falls getting out of the boat at the end of their fishing trip. Although Billy isn’t injured, there is no hiding the “accident” from Ray and Cindy since the gash on Corbin’s face is streaming blood. Both his son and daughter-in-law suspect alcohol’s involvement, and Corbin ends up in the ER for stitches.

But Corbin can’t get the dead fish out of his mind, and he remembers talking at Kitty’s funeral with their lawn man, whose grandson has become inexplicably ill with cancer. When Corbin hears of another child with the same cancer, he begins to attempt to connect the dots between the dead fish and the sick children. The only conclusion he can come up with is possible environmental contamination by the local fertilizer plant, Colfax, which already has been in legal trouble for discharging toxic chemicals.

Is it possible that Colfax’s illegal dumping is responsible for the boys’ cancers? Corbin thinks so. Although he’s probably the least capable person to take on an enormous lawsuit against a large company with a powerful legal team, he files suit. 

This isn’t the only battle going on, however. It seems that Kitty’s prayers are finally starting to get answered. Corbin takes a look at his drinking when the consequences in his life force him to do so. While a master of denial and avoidance, he begins to see a pattern. Can he cut down on, or stop completely, the drinking that he’s done most of his life? And can he fight this landmark case at the same time?

Robert Whitlow is a master at weaving intense legal battles with the supernatural work of God in his characters’ lives. In this latest book about Corbin Gage, we experience the drama of a necessary yet seemingly unwinnable case alongside the quiet work of the Holy Spirit in the life of someone who is desperately in need. I was surprised by the sympathy I felt for this hard-drinking lawyer, and how much I hoped for him to win his battles against both addiction and the fertilizer company. The description of Corbin’s fight against alcoholism is both believable and highly readable.

Fans of Whitlow’s books and newcomers alike will thoroughly enjoy this examination of the law in a desperate case --- which looks at what is right as opposed to what is legal --- and redemption in the life of the attorney committed to seeing the case through.

Reviewed by Melanie Reynolds on August 28, 2015

A House Divided
by Robert Whitlow