Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Adult Fiction: Legal Thriller Round-Up

I'm a sucker for a good legal thriller.  I like detective stories and mysteries, books where the main characters are cops or lawyers, or where the book itself centers around a legal case.  Here are a few I've recently read:

Scott Turow is no stranger to the criminal justice system - not only is he an attorney, but he has written numerous well-researches fiction novels, and a could non-fiction evaluations of the death penalty.  I always find his writing entertaining, and this one was no exception.  Identical tells the story of identical twin brothers, Paul and Cass Giannis.  Cass has spent the past 25 years in prison for murdering his girlfriend, while Paul has established a successful political career.  Upon Cass's release from prison, the family of the victim launches a re-investigation into the murder in the hopes of implicating Paul in the crime and sabotaging his political aspirations.  What follows is, of course, a complex web of deception, twists, and turns - the hallmark traits of any Turow novel.

I better write the review of this John Grisham book before I get my hands on a copy of his most recent release, Gray Mountain, which came out earlier this week.  Sycamore Row is the sequel to the A Time to Kill and stars Jake Brigance who is dragged unwillingly into a wills and estates fight when he is named the executor of a wealthy man's will.  When the man commits suicide, Jake is left to work out the meaning of his second will, combat challenges to the will by the man's greedy children, and to figure out just why such a successful white man would have left all his money to his black hired help.  As far as Grisham's books go, this was pretty much par for the course.  A little slow (I mean, like The Testament, how interesting can you make a book that is about someone's will?) but generally delivered as all Grisham books do.  If you like Grisham, chances are, you'll be fine with this one.

I have read a lot of praise for Louise Erdrich over the years, but failed to ever read one of her novels.  I am so glad I started with  The Round House after I saw that it won the National Book Award back in 2012.  Set on a Native American reservation in North Dakota, The Round House begins with the brutal assault on young Joe's mother. When Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation, and the actions of his father, a tribal judge, he takes it upon himself to figure out what really happened to his mother.  In doing so, he becomes entrenched in the frustrations of justice, and life in between two worlds.  The writing in this book is simply exquisite.  I was absolutely enthralled by the story-telling, not just the plot itself but the careful language with which the story was told.  I am eager to read more of Erdich's novels very soon.

The best thing about loving Michael Connelly is that you never run out of books to read!  The Gods of Guilt is his most recent one in the Mickey Haller series (most popular for including The Lincoln Lawyer).  Haller is a successful but struggling defense attorney who discovers that one of his former clients has just been murdered.  In discovering that he may have been the one to put her life in danger, Haller works in his tireless fashion to uncover the truth behind her death.  This novel is standard Connelly - suspenseful, some good courtroom drama, some unnecessary drama in Haller's personal life, and generally entertaining.  I like having these sorts of books to consistently come back to - I always know what I'm going to get - not winning a Pulitzer anytime soon, but certainly never disappointing.

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