Eyes of a Child, top legal thrillers

Eyes of a Child

Richard North Patterson

(1994)

  

Defence attorney Chris Paget's well-ordered world is shattered by his love for his assistant Terri, in this sequel to Degree of Guilt. Terri's ex-husband Ricky instigates a child custody battle for Terri's daughter, but then Ricky is found murdered. With a strong motive and weak alibi Paget is the prime suspect and on trial for his life.

‘The superb characterisation and intricate plot combine to ensure a compulsive read’

Time Out

No. 9 Richard North Patterson’s Eyes of a Child

No. 1 Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent

Presumed Innocent, Top Legal Thrillers

Presumed Innocent

Scott Turow

(1987)

  

Rusty Sabich is a prosecuting lawyer in Chicago who enters a nightmare world when Carolyn, a beautiful attorney with whom he has been having an affair, is found raped and strangled. He stands accused of the crime. Presumed innocent spent 45 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and influenced a new generation of writer-lawyers.

  

‘Phenomenal... a powerful study of ambition, weakness, hypocrisy and American 'justice' ‘ Sunday Express

Degree of Guilt, top legal thrillers

Degree of Guilt

Richard North Patterson

(1992)

  

TV journalist Mary Carelli admits that she shot and killed Mark Ransom, one of the world’s most famous authors. She claims it was self-defense. She swears he tried to rape her. Now she has to prove it in a court of law—with her former lover acting as her attorney…a man who doubts her, questions his defence, his ethics, and the whole legal system.

‘One intense courtroom clash after another...An intelligent and gripping thriller’

The Washington Post

No. 5 Richard North Patterson’s Degree of Guilt

Reversible Errors, top legal thrillers

Reversible Errors

Scott Turow

(2002)

Arthur Raven, more versed in corporate law than criminal defence, is the court-appointed attorney for a Death Row inmate. Convinced his client is innocent thanks to new evidence, Raven is a fervent crusader, and also a rookie in the vicious world of criminal law. Compelling characters, authentic plotting. Superb.

‘Turow is the class act of legal thriller writers’

Publishers Weekly

No. 6 Scott Turow’s Reversible Errors

The Runaway Jury, top legal thrillers

The Runaway Jury

John Grisham

(1996)

A landmark trial begins with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. But the jury is behaving strangely, and at least one juror is convinced he's being watched. Then a tip from an anonymous young woman suggests she is able to predict the jurors' odd behaviour. Are they being manipulated, or even controlled? And, if so, why?

‘Fascinating…high–powered narration’

Chicago Tribune

No. 4 John Grisham’s The Runaway Jury

Snow Falling On Cedars, top legal thrillers

San Piedro Island is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American is charged with his murder. In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man's guilt.

‘Compelling…heart-stopping. Finely wrought, flawlessly written’

The New York Times

Snow Falling on Cedars

David Guterson

(1994)

  

No. 10 David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars

  
A Time to Kill, top legal thrillers

A Time To Kill

John Grisham

(1989)

  

The life of a young girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young man. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle, and takes justice into his own outraged hands. It is rural Mississippi and a rookie defence attorney struggles to save his client’s life, and his own…

‘Taut, fast and relentless’

San Francisco Chronicle

No. 8 John Grisham’s A Time to Kill

  

Compelling Evidence, top legal thrillers

Compelling Evidence

Steve Martini

(1992)

Steve Martini’s powerful debut novel sees Paul Madriani, a brilliant criminal defence lawyer, ruin his promising career after an ill-judged affair with a senior partner’s wife. Forced to resign he’s scrambling for work when Potter is found dead. After the victim's seductive wife is arrested she turns to Paul, her former lover, to defend her.

‘Terrific and intriguing legal drama…thoroughly entertaining’

Melvin Belli

No. 3 Steve Martini’s Compelling Evidence

  

THE HOUND'S Greatest Legal Thrillers

post To Kill A Mockingbird

 

Defending Jacob, top legal thrillers

Defending Jacob

William Landay

(2012)

  

A teenaged boy is discovered stabbed to death in the woods adjoining the local high school. Assistant DA Andy Barber’s keen to secure a speedy arrest and conviction, especially as his son, Jacob, is a student at the school. Then evidence emerges that ties Jacob to the crime – now Andy must prevent his own son from being convicted of murder.

  

‘The best crime-and-courtroom drama in years’

Stephen King

No. 7 William Landay’s Defending Jacob

I would rank Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird as the greatest legal thriller of all time. The book was published in 1960, two years after another all time great, Anatomy of a Murder, Robert Traver's superb courtroom thriller. But which legal thrillers rate as the best of the last fifty years? Here's my pick.

Primal Fear, top legal thrillers

Primal Fear

William Diehl

(1996)

Martin Vail, Chicago's most brilliant lawyer, has been set up by his enemies to defend a case he cannot win. Young Aaron Stampler looks bound to fry, but he swears he's innocent. In a desperate gamble for justice, Vail must reach deep into the recesses of a killer's mind, to flush out a monster of infinite cunning and evil. Terrific and terrifying.

‘Spine-tingling...Mr. Diehl can sustain suspense’

The New York Times

No. 2 William Diehl’s Primal Fear

More Great Legal Thrillers to try