Archive for the ‘Legal Thriller’ Category

Ground Truth-Rob Sangster

August 5, 2012

Ground Truth

Rob Sangster

ImaJinn, Sep 1 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9781610260961


Panicked Anita Hudson calls Stanford University Professor Jack Strider insisting his widowed father H. Peckford Strider was acting weird.  Though he considers Peck to be odd, Jack visits his father who tells him the sh*t hits the fan when the news discusses the Pacific Dawn cargo ship containing six dead women.  Peck tells his lover Anita she is dead too before he commits suicide. 


San Francisco District Attorney Rick Calder informs Jack his father was involved with human trafficing selling young females many of whom had Aids.  Rick also says he will find the link to hang Jack.  The media storm ends Jack’s academic career and his fast track to the Supreme Court.  His mentor Sam Butler gets him a job working for former Secretary of State Justin Sinclair.  Jack’s first assignment involves a corporation working toxic waste removal in Juarez, Mexico.  He soon learns to trust no one except his legal firm’s Debra Vanderberg as he finds out the Ground Truth means millions of Mexicans will soon die.


This is an exciting legal thriller that grips the reader from the moment Peck puts the gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger, and never slows down as Jack changes his priorities.  Though the villains seem more like caricatures of angry avaricious  people, fans will enjoy this entertaining international law thriller as nothing is going to break the hero’s ethical stride.


Harriet Klausner


Last Lawyer Standing-Douglas Corleone

August 4, 2012

Last Lawyer Standing

Douglas Corleone

Minotaur, Aug 21 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312552282


In Honolulu, Assistant U.S. Attorneys William F. Boyd and Audra Levy offer criminal Turi Ahina a deal if he wants to avoid a long sentence for his meth lab.  They expect Turi to go undercover inside the gang led by drug lord Orlando Masonet whom no one seems to have met.  However, the cops arrest Turi for shooting Police Detective Kanoa Bristol.  For the zillionth time, criminal defense attorney Kevin Corvelli defends Turi using the cop is corrupt as their arrack.


Running for reelection, Hawaii Governor Wade Omphrey, though not charged as he has an alibi, retains Corvelli when his mistress Oksana Sutin is found dead due to strychnine poisoning.  The case remains unsolved but the damage to the Governor’s bid for a second term seems insurmountable while Corvelli assignment is persuading the cops his client did not hire hit man Lok Sun or any other pro.


The lasts Corvelli legal thriller (see Night on Fire and One Man’s Paradise) is an exciting though by the book Hawaiian tale in which the protagonist paints the cops on the take while convincing the same cops whose reputation he nukes that his other client is clean.  Fast-paced and filled with twists though some seem obvious; fans will enjoy this entertaining complicated mystery as cynical Corvelli works his two cases in his wisenheimer manner.


Harriet Klausner

Suzy’s Case-Andy Siegel

June 30, 2012

Suzy’s Case

Andy Siegel

Scribner, Jul 10 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9781451658781


In New York City criminal lawyer Henry Benson has given work to personal injury and medical malpractice attorney Tug Wyler that four times has led to the latter being called before the Disciplinary Committee.  Once again he is slapped with an ethics violation and a fine of $25.00 as Judge Howell knows Wyler was right.  Observer Judge Piccone warns Tug he will throw the book at him if he oversees a lack of zealousness defending a client regardless of cause.


Benson asks Wyler to handle the Suzy Williams tragedy.  In a Brooklyn hospital, six years old Suzy went into cardiac arrest; a seizure left her “a spastic quadriplegic with severe brain damage.”  When Benson’s medical expert claims the child’s sickle cell anemia caused the seizure rather than staff negligence, Tug knows there is no complaint.  However, Suzy’s single mom June persuades him to represent her daughter in their multimillion-dollar lawsuit.


Wyler will remind legal thriller fans of Joseph Teller’s Jaywalker (see The Tenth Case), as he thrives to do the right thing regardless of personal costs.  The engaging storyline is fast-paced though there are too many happenchance incidents.  However the cast is top rate starting with the wisecracking Wyler who enjoys busting the chops of righteous shitheads in power, the caring mom and especially Suzy.


Harriet Klausner

The Conviction-Robert Dugoni

May 30, 2012

The Conviction

Robert Dugoni

Touchstone, Jun 12 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451606720


In Seattle, attorney David Sloane’s sixteen year old “son” Jake Carter continues to get in trouble as he has since he witnessed the murder of his mom who was Sloane’s wife.  Sloane has struggled with her death too, but has begun to move on.  When Jake is arrested for the second time, Sloane and the lad’s father Frank persuade the court not to incarcerate him.  His friend police detective Tom Molia invites Sloane and Jake to join him and his son TJ on a camping trip in Truluck, California.


However, the teens are caught breaking into a store trying to retrieve Jake’s driver’s license taken earlier by the proprietor.  Winchester County Judge Boykin coaxes guilty pleas without council from the two defendants.  They are sentenced to six months at six months Fresh Start, the Winchester County-owned wilderness boot camp where teens enter but never leave alive.


The latest Sloane legal thriller is an exciting “frontier justice” tale (see Wrongful Death and Murder One) as the legal efforts to free the teens fail.  The storyline is filled with action though the actions of the cop and the attorney are at best unlikely while what they failed to do even more improbable.  Still fans who ignore their plausibility meter will enjoy this entertaining story.


Harriet Klausner

Night Watch-Linda Fairstein

May 25, 2012

Night Watch

Linda Fairstein

Dutton, Jul 10 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780525952633


Manhattan ADA sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper visits her boyfriend restaurateur Luc Rouget at his French estate overlooking the Bay of Cannes.  Two days after leaving New York on her vacation, village police officer Claude Chenier joins Alex and Luc.  The cop says Luc’s former employee Lisette Honfleur was found dead in a nearby pond; the victim had a on her a matchbook advertising his latest New York restaurant.


Meanwhile her boss Paul Battaglia calls Alex back to New York when a maid Blanca Robles accuses the head of the World Economic Bureau Mohammed Gil-“MGD” Darsin of rape.  The case is a media circus while the prosecution believes the victim until they begin to find out more about her history.  At the same time in Brooklyn, a murder victim possesses a matchbook from Luc’s new restaurant.


Obviously taken from the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, one of the subplots in the latest Alexandra Cooper legal thriller (see Silent Mercy) is an exciting entry that focuses on an accuser whose account keeps changing.  The Luc subplot though well written pales next to the MGD segue.  Sub-genre fans will appreciate Linda Fairstein’s strong fictional version of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case.


Harriet Klausner

Discretion-Allison Leotta

May 25, 2012


Allison Leotta

Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, Jul 3 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9781451644845


At the U.S. Capitol building, escort Caroline McBride falls to her death from the office balcony of District representative Emmett Lionel.  Assistant U.S. Attorney sex crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis investigates the death.  


Running for election, Lionel proves uncooperative as he claims the Speech and Debate Clause limits any search of his office.  His lawyers and his political advisers are even less cooperative as they construct barrier after barrier to thwart the inquiry.  At the same time, the high profile case threatens to disclose Anna’s relationship with the office head of homicide, single dad Jack Bailey at a time that she struggles to gain trust from his angry six year old daughter who still grieves for her late mom.


The second Anna Curtis legal thriller (see Law of Attraction) is an engaging DC thriller starring an ambitious ADA who is struggling with a case that could make or break her career and her romance.  Mindful of Margaret Truman’s novels like Murder at the White House (and its subsequent movie Murder at 1600), this is a fast-paced entertaining though somewhat expected “Capital Crimes” investigation.


Harriet Klausner

The Wrong Man-David Ellis

April 30, 2012

The Wrong Man

David Ellis

Putnam, Jun 14 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780399158285


After class, paralegal Kathy Rubinkowski heads to her SUV to go home when someone shoots her in her head.  Detective Frank Danilo and Mona Gregus arrest Iraqi war veteran Tom Stoller who is incoherent and apparently homeless in spite of an address.  Stoller was found with the murder weapon and Kathy’s purse near the homicide scene.  The cops get a confession out of the mentally unstable Stoller.


Tom’s Aunt Deidre Maley observes in court attorney Jason Kolarich destroy the testimony of a key prosecution witness in a murder case.  She pleads with him to defend her nephew as public defender Bryan Childress is leaving the office.  He agrees though the trial is in a few weeks and his client wants it over so a continuance is unlikely.  As he goes over the evidence and talks with his client, Jason begins to believe Tom confessed to a horrible event in Iraq not to the killing of Kathy.  He finds proof that Kathy was assassinated because someone wanted to end her inquiry into a terrorists’ money trail.


The third Jason Kolarich legal thriller (see The Hidden Man and Breach of Trust) is an exciting tale that is at its best in the courtroom and in client-lawyer meetings.  The attorney defends an individual suffering from PTSD triggered Disorganized Schizophrenia who mumbles okay though he apparently has no idea what he responds to.  When the case turns into an improbable thriller, the storyline remains fast-paced but loses some of its freshness of defending a person whose sanity seems unlikely.


Harriet Klausner

Under Oath-Margaret McLean

April 15, 2012

Under Oath

Margaret McLean

Forge, Apr 24, 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765328137


In Charlestown, Massachusetts nasty hood Billy Malone stands on trial for the murder of artist Trevor Shea.  Defending the viscous criminal is attorney Buddy Clancy while prosecutor Annie Fitzgerald argues for the Commonwealth.  Assisting Annie is Boston homicide detective Mike Callahan who believes Malone has killed many people including the painter whose renditions of murder scenes are harrowing. 


The case turns ugly as witnesses are murdered and the jury wants to leave but not in a body bag as one of them keeps leaking secrets that frighten the others who fear they will be targeted next.  Annie and Mike believe the key to getting this scum off the street is Trevor’s painting, but his brother Chris refuses to cooperate.   The verdict remains up in the air as both sides present their case.


In Under Fire, Clancy was the protagonist; in Under Oath he plays second fiddle to Annie.  The courtroom scenes are superb while the streets of Charlestown add to this wonderful legal thriller.  Both Annie and Mike lose perspective as each accepts the premise that the end justifies the mean in terms of insuring a violent vicious psychopath is locked away.  Although the Honorable Judge Conrad J. Killam seems to allow too many shenanigans, readers will enjoy this fine courtroom drama.


Harriet Klausner

Ashes to Dust-Yrsa Sigurdardottir

March 8, 2012

Ashes to Dust

Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Minotaur, Mar 27 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312641740


In 1973, a volcano erupts on Iceland’s Heimaey Island.  A village is buried under the lava.  Included under the sea of ash is the family home of teenager Markus Magnusson.


In 2007, investors send a cleanup crew to excavate the site so it can become a tourist attraction.  However, in the basement of the Magnusson home is found three relatively fresh corpses and a severed head.  The Westmann Islands near retired Inspector Lieffson suspect Markus, who retained attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir to prevent the digging.  The villagers offer little to repute the police assertion and the one person he claims who could vindicate him is dead.  Digging for a viable alternative to her client, Thora defends Markus though she is convinced she represents a killer.


The third Thora Gudmundsdottir Icelandic legal thriller (see Last Rituals and My Soul To Take) is a great tale that uses the island nation’s geography and history to anchor a fabulous present day murder mystery.  The storyline is fast-paced with a deft investigation that leads to betrayal and secrets in a great setting.  This series is a refreshing winner.


Harriet Klausner

The Last Plea Bargain-Randy Singer

January 10, 2012

The Last Plea Bargain

Randy Singer

Tyndale, Mar 1 2012, $13.99

ISBN 9781414333212


Milton County, Georgia assistant District Attorney Jamie Brock is uncompromising when it comes to the legal system that she has sworn to uphold.  For her three years working in the prosecution’s office, she never accepted a rejects plea bargain as she strongly believes this dealing abominates the justice system.


Defense attorney Caleb Tate is accused of murdering his wife Rikki.  With a personal grudge against the powerful Tate for his over the top defense of the man convicted of murdering her mother, Brock wants to nail him with a capital punishment conviction.  She and lead detective “LA” Finnegan work the murder case together.  However, Tate has used the ADA’s convictions against her when he arranges for prisoners to refuse to plea bargain leads to the court system failing and felons freed for no reason except to clear the docket.  At the same time, death sentence opponent Mace James works the appeal of the killer of Brock’s mother.  As her world spins out of control, Brock realizes even her mother’s death is not as black and white as she once thought.


The Last Plea Bargain is a great legal thriller that looks closely at the impact of the war on crime overwhelming the under-budgeted court system, which leads to the overuse of plea bargaining.  Ironically Brock can take her rigid moral stand because other flexible ADAs keep the system from clogging up.  Satirizing chicken hawk politicians who are tough on crime except for funding the system and filled with clever twists, Randy Singer provides an entertaining tale that questions the meaning of justice in a judicial process that is financed and operated more like a logistical just in time warehousing operation.


Harriet Klausner