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Crude Ambition by Patricia Hunt Holmes | AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT



Patricia Hunt Holmes 

Categories: Mystery / Thriller / Women’s Fiction 

Publisher: River Grove Books (Greenleaf Book Group)

Date of Publication: June 8, 2021

Number of Pages: 326

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In the early morning hours after a law firm recruiting party at a beachside house on Galveston Island, a female summer intern is found lying on the floor, bruised, bleeding and unconscious.  Four men and one young woman attorney who were staying at the house know something terrible happened. 

The woman attorney takes her to a hospital but the next day the intern disappears. All of them decide to keep silent, doing nothing about the incident in order to further their own career ambitions while the events of that night haunt the two women.  Time passes and then ten years later, crime and hubris bring the former intern back into their lives.  Only this time she has the power and the truth is finally brought to light, uprooting everyone’s plans.  

From the power centers of Houston law and oil to the fracking fields of South Texas to the Jersey Shore and Washington D.C., this story chronicles the struggles of two ambitious young women in their quest for legal success and justice.  


“Crude Ambition is a great read.  It is an authentic look at big law in Houston and the Texas oil business.  Patricia Hunt Holmes weaves a story of ambition, greed, romance and revenge that kept me turning the pages until all the just desserts were served.” 

Marc Grossberg,J.D., Author of The Best People: A Tale of Trials and Errors 

“In Crude Ambition, Patricia Hunt Holmes shows she knows Texas in the way Grisham knows Mississippi—politics, environment, strong men and strong women, egos, oil, arrogance, influence and hunger for power.  I don’t think anyone could have nailed it better.” 

Bill Sarpalius, Former U.S. Congressman, Author of The Grand Duke of Boys’ Ranch   


Amazon  |  Murder By The Book  |  Barnes and Noble | Bookshop.org

UH Law Center alumna Patricia Hunt Holmes ‘83 pens legal thriller inspired by her career 

Originally featured in the University of Houston Law Center as an Alumni Spotlight

Patricia Hunt Holmes, a 1983 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center, has concluded her legal career, but is continuing one of her favorite aspects of it: writing.  

The attorney-turned-author recently published her second book, “Crude Ambition,” in June. A legal thriller, the novel details the journeys of two young women attorneys and their plight for justice. Holmes said she largely drew inspiration from her personal experiences carving a path for herself in the legal field, a predominantly male space when she entered it in the 1970s. 

Holmes first joined Vinson & Elkins, LLP in 1976 as a legal assistant. She had recently moved to Houston from Tennessee, where she taught Russian culture at the University of Tennessee. 

After working at the firm for four years and kick starting its legal assistant program, Holmes decided to pursue a legal education at the Law Center. 

“I’m grateful to the Law Center for being there,” Holmes said. “I couldn’t have gone anywhere else, frankly. I had a husband and two toddler little girls. It was a great place to go to law school – the teachers were good, the training was good.”  

Holmes returned to Vinson & Elkins after graduating with her J.D. in 1983, and eight years later, became a partner at the firm. She was one of two women and 16 men to do so at the time.  

Holmes recounted instances in her first year at the Firm where some clients opted to call her male colleagues rather than her to answer questions she had asked them, and even a time when she, the only woman at a fellowship luncheon in a prestigious private business club had been made to leave because women weren’t allowed. 

Despite some of the challenges she faced throughout her career, Holmes said she’s “not bitter about how it was.” 

“I certainly didn’t intend the book to be anti-law firm because I had a fabulous career. I loved it, and I loved my clients,” Holmes said. “I think you just have to accept things the way they are, learn the rules, and work with them. And it’s not always fair, but if you want to get ahead when you are the newcomer, you might have to work a little harder and longer to do what you want to do.” 

Holmes credits her mentor at Vinson & Elkins for advising her, guiding her, and seeing to it that she received work.  “I can’t overemphasize how important it is to find a mentor,” she said. 

Holmes built a career as a public finance attorney representing nonprofit organizations like the YMCA, United Way, nonprofit hospitals and member-owned cooperative utilities. She described her clients as “mission driven,” offering her a sense of fulfillment as they worked together. 

Holmes said that public finance law, “gives you the opportunity to write a lot and to write persuasively.” Holmes said she wrote a lot of securities offerings, which included writing the equivalent of an official statement or prospectus and the story of the company. 

“I was writing the whole time I was working as a lawyer, and it was, in a way, creative writing, but it was tied to fact and tied to the law,” she said.  

Holmes’ passions for writing and community impact collided somewhat unexpectedly following her retirement from Vinson & Elkins in 2012. While taking a fiction writing class at Inprint Houston, a literary arts nonprofit, Holmes said she started writing a short story that later became the basis of her first novel, “Searching for Pilar.” 

The book was born from a headline Holmes had read about a Mexican woman who was abducted by human traffickers. It eventually led her to become passionate about creating awareness about human trafficking in the Houston area. 

“That stuck with me,” Holmes said. “There are so many organizations focusing on it, people training and people rehabilitating. I’m not an activist, I say I’m just a writer.  I see my contribution as bringing attention to this terrible crime which is so prevalent in Houston.” 

In all, Holmes said both her background as a historian and her legal training has given her the tools to think both inductively and deductively, skills that have proven useful as she dives into the lives of her characters. 

Patricia Hunt Holmes spent 30 years as a public finance attorney with a large international law firm, specializing in nonprofit healthcare finance and rural electric cooperative finance. Consistently listed in Best Lawyers in America, Texas Super Lawyers, and Top Lawyers in Houston, she was a frequent speaker at national public finance and health care conferences. Patricia has also served on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Tennessee, and University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. She has written and published in the fields of intellectual history and law.   

In addition to her legal career, Patricia has been a member and board member of several social service organizations throughout Houston, including the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast Women’s Initiative, Dress for Success Houston, the University of Houston Women’s Studies Program, University of Houston Law Review Board of Directors, is a Trustee of the Houston Grand Opera, and Houston Justice for Our Neighbors. 

Patricia grew up in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey but has lived in Houston for over 40 years. She has two daughters, Hillary and Ashley, who have successful careers as an attorney and a geologist, and three adorable grandsons. She is an avid golfer and traveler.   

Patricia holds a BA in English and History, an MA in History, and a PhD in Russian and South Asian History with honors, all from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center and was an editor on the Houston Law Review.  

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