Some people read legal or courtroom fiction books for their interest in the law. My early exposure included Earl Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason series. I read them because in a town of three thousand people the choices were somewhat limited at the local library. I have to confess that I am guilty of never reading John Grisham. Let me clarify. I read The Painted House and enjoyed it a great deal. I have not read any of his legal thrillers. Since he is a household name, these five other writers may open up a whole new way for you to look at the law.
The two legal-themed authors that I have read the most are Robert Tanenbaum and Scott Turow. Tanenbaum’s series, featuring lawyers Marlene Ciampi and Butch Karp, is a fun and intense good-versus-evil romp. The questions posed by the author are always thought-provoking, whether religious, political or legal. Marlene often takes the law in her own hands, while Karp feels justice will prevail by working within the system. The characters are entertaining, but the series moves away from the law and gets progressively surreal.
Scott Turow writes only stand alone legal thrillers. His approach, like his characters, seems truly sincere, and it is difficult to put a finger on his appeal. His writing style can be uncomfortable in its flow at times, but do not let that deter you from his command of the law. He is best known for Presumed Innocent, which put legal thrillers back on the map, especially after it was made into a movie back in 1990.
For those who want more romance and mystery in their lawyers, try Barbara Parker’s series with commercial lawyer Gail Connor and criminal defender Anthony Quintana. Their cultural differences (he is of Cuban descent) and their families make it difficult for them to build a relationship and both are flawed characters living in Miami circa 1994. These books are full of surprises and Parker weaves a very tight story. Her stand alones are not as appealing and unfortunately she passed away in 2009.
For those who like a cozier style try William G. Tapply’s Brady Coyne series. I read the nineteenth book (the series began in 1984) and always meant to go back to the beginning. His books are centered in Boston and Coyne is a sleuth, who seldom appears in court. He handles divorces, wills and estates for a select clientele, who get mixed up in murder.
Lisa Scottoline writes a loosely linked series about a legal firm of females in Philadelphia circa 1994. Courtroom time makes up some of the story, while investigations make up the rest. There are many humorous asides and the ambitious lady lawyers have surprising motivations, which make for interesting reading. Because of their broad perspective and viewpoints, you can easily read these as stand alones.
So whether you like your legal stories in the courtroom or outside of it, these five authors should keep you entertained. If you have been longing for a little justice, you just might find it in one of these fictional situations. Of course, if you had to pick one courtroom case to read above all others, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird should be at the top of your list.