For the majority of us, the legal world is shrouded in so much mystery and bureaucratic terms it might as well be made from a science-fiction novel. Nevertheless, like with many other aspects of our daily lives, we place our faith in it to a certain extent despite our lack of understanding.
Whether or not a country’s justice system is truly functional, I think most citizens will agree a good legal structure is extremely important in ensuring a society functions properly. After all, in theory it ought to serve as the basis from which all citizens can benefit from their guaranteed rights… even if it’s far from the truth in practice.
Thankfully, there are authors who are also well-versed in the legal realm, and many of them have given a rise in popularity to the legal thriller genre. Precisely-speaking, it focuses on fictional criminal cases and the justice system as a whole, with the primary characters being lawyers and their employees.
In this category we’re going to be looking at legal thrillers with various approaches and perspectives on the Law, or at least the ones I believe stand out from their peers and offer experiences which are equally insightful and entertaining.
“The Holdout” by Graham Moore – The Unforgiven Juror
Graham Moore has injected into to his novels his own experience as an award-winning screenwriter, giving them a more eventful atmosphere and a quicker pace.
In his most recent novel, The Holdout, he introduces us to Maya Seale, a young juror who convinces her peers as to the innocence of a suspect in a murder case.
Now, ten years later, after a true-crime series reassembles the jurors, one of them is found dead in Maya’s hotel room, launching the ultimate search for truth as to what really happened the first time around.
“Force of Nature” by Jane Harper – The Rashomon Effect
Jane Harper is certainly determined to leave her mark on the crime novel scene with the second book in her Aaron Falk series, titled Force of Nature.
In this story, we follow Aaron, a Federal Police Agent, as he investigates the disappearance of a hiker who went on a retreat with four of her colleagues.
Complications arise when each of those colleagues presents a different account of the events which transpired, forcing Aaron to dive himself into the isolated forest harbouring the darkness of Man.
“Lies She Never Told Me” by John Ellsworth – Heritage of Deceit
John Ellsworth really has made the most of his career as a criminal lawyer, even finding a way to translate his experiences into novel-writing.
Amongst many things he has been writing the Michael Gresham series, and in the first book titled “Lies She Never Told Me” we delve into the protagonist’s past and personal life, the heritage he hails from, and the time his dying grandmother asked him to kill a man at her behest.
“Alter Ego” by Brian Freeman – Death of a Ghost; a Catalyst
Brian Freeman has given us more thrills and chills than we can count with his various mystery series, most notably introducing the world to Jonathan Stride, a Minnesotan detective with a penchant for the most sordid and complicated cases.
He returns to the fore yet again in Alter Ego, becoming embroiled in multiple investigations drawing from the present as well as the past.
For starters, a man who seemingly died in a car accident on a remote road outside of Duluth had a false identity and a recently used gun.
Second, a college student is reported missing.
Third, Stride makes the acquaintance of the Hollywood star who will play him in a movie, one rumoured to have dark secrets.
“The Late Show” by Michael Connelly – The Urban Demon Beneath Pitch Black Skies
Michael Connelly is an author who has gifted us with the creation of a few memorable characters, such as Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller, adding to the list the brand new Renee Ballard in The Late Show.
What will undoubtedly become a series starts off with Ballard working the dreaded midnight shift for the LAPD, a bit of a black sheep in the department following a sexual harassment complaint against her supervisor.
In one night two separate cases land on her lap: the agonizing bludgeoning of a prostitute and the shooting of a young woman in a nightclub.
Never being one to back down, Renee keeps working the two cases on her own time and the deeper she digs, the more apparent it becomes that the two events may have been linked by a very surprising set of circumstances.
“The Whistler” by John Grisham – Cut Through the Web of Lies
John Grisham has shown time and time again his proclivity for writing gripping legal thrillers, and he extends his streak as he takes us straight into the heart of a large conspiracy involving the coast mafia, an illegally-financed casino, and the most corrupt judge you could ever lay your eyes on.
In the midst of that boiling pot swims Lacy Stoltz, the lone investigator for the Florida Board of Judicial Conduct who is faced with the impossible task of bringing down an empire built on lies, greed and blood.