Sherman McCoy has it all: a sumptuous Park Avenue apartment, an exclusive private school for his daughter, a beautiful wife, a sexy mistress – he's a “master of the universe,” an international investment banker.
Larry Kramer, assistant District Attorney in The Bronx, is far from having it all. His wife has grown fat, his clothing shabby, his apartment worn out. He takes the subway to work and compares himself to his former law school classmates who have become wealthy lawyers.
Then a traffic accident, caused by Sherman's paranoid and perhaps irrational fear of black youths, brings them together. His girlfriend Maria at the wheel of his $48,000 Mercedes hits one of the youths, critically injuring him. The kid, Henry Lamb, turns out to be an honor student, at least by the standards of the South Bronx. But before Kramer and McCoy can come together, we meet each of the relevant characters and read their stories:
Abe Weiss, the Bronx District Attorney, is running for reelection, represents a borough that is increasingly black and Hispanic. He needs to win this case.
Reverend Bacon, whose influence can turn Harlem into a raging jungle, is pressing for justice. The Mayor and District Attorney are pushing Kramer to convict quickly. The black community must see that a white man who kills one of their own will be dealt with harshly.
Then there's the newspaperman, Peter Fallow, who needs a good story to keep his job. There's Sherman's lawyer, Freddie Button, who sends him to Tom Killian, a defense attorney. There's Roland Auburn, the witness to the accident, a tough street kid with a long record. Somehow, Kramer must make him look respectable. There's Myron Kovitsky, the tough judge who will decide this case in front of a roomful of demonstrators.
By the time Sherman comes to trial, he has lost everything. His wife has left him. He's out of a job and deep in debt. Now, it appears that all that's left is the verdict.
This report prepared by David Gordon