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Widely regarded as the definitive modern day legal thriller, this has it all. A secret affair, one prosecutor accused of murdering another, an old adversary turned friend, and a huge dose of vengeance. It's breath-taking in its twists and pacing.
An international treasure for the ages and a high school must-read, but we often forget that at the heart of this book is a trial involving a racially charged false allegation and a man who risked everything to ensure that the defendant received a fair trial. The ultimate, timeless, heartbreaking legal thriller.
Non-fiction, but the ultimate true crime read. It follows the investigation and trial of defendants accused of a quadruple murder in Kansas, who pleaded temporary insanity at their trial. Eloquent and original, told from three perspectives, it's a unique perspective on a moment in time.
You couldn't have a legal thriller must read list without a Grisham (or several) in there. The Pelican Brief is a classic "too much knowledge is a dangerous thing" suspense laden thriller from the master of the courtroom drama.
Set within the family court system and the case of a 17 year old who refuses a blood transfusion on religious grounds, this novel follows the private and public struggles of a judge during the breakdown of her marriage and as her private life becomes entangled with her courtroom decisions. A novel setting and a clever protagonist, posing some tricky moral questions.
An ex-conman is acting as defence counsel and the killer's on the jury. What more do you need to know? One of the newest additions to the genre, Thirteen is great for those who can suspend their (legal procedure) disbelief and just enjoy the substantial action.
Published in 1958, this is considered a classic and deserves to be read today. The author was a lawyer, later a judge, and the novel is a retelling of the true murder case where the victim was believed to have raped the defendant’s wife. Stunning prose and a riveting story, this is highly recommended.
One of the most experienced and well-established names in the legal thriller genre, this is the story of a lawyer who operates his business out of his Lincoln car. Ignore every modern day blurb promising plot twists, this is the ultimate twisty-turny novel. No one is what they seem, everyone is out for themselves, and the writing is completely fabulous. It's a legal Do Not Miss.
Perhaps more psychological thriller, but the protagonist is a female lawyer, and it’s always a good idea to read a Karin Slaughter book. This is a then-and-now book, when a crime in a small community leads back to one 28 years earlier, and the lawyer is also the first witness on the scene. There aren’t enough prominent women in the legal thriller genre, so read them whenever you get the chance!
Set in glorious San Francisco, and featuring one of those enduring legal thriller characters – the brilliant, hard working but lonely protagonist lawyer – this is the archetypal example of the genre. From personal quests to political corruption, terrifying secrets and lives in danger, this is your ideal read if you want your legal thriller to tick every traditional box.
About HS Chandler's Degrees of Guilt:When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale. Maria is on trial for attempted murder. She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead. Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate. She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out. You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent. You will be wrong.
Post a comment below telling us which legal thrillers are your favourites and we will pick five readers to each receive a copy of HS Chandler's Degrees of Guilt. We'll pick winners after Sunday 8th September 2019. Congratulations to the five winners below!
5 x winners will each receive a copy of Degrees of Guilt.
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Browse quizzes, reading lists, and recommendations from our guest Book Doctors.