Must-read legal thrillers!

Must-Read Legal Thrillers & Courtroom Dramas

Looking for your next great legal thriller or courtroom drama? Check out our recommendations and let us know your favorites.

 

The Firm by John Grisham

The Firm

 

A Harvard Law graduate joins a wealthy tax firm. . .

 

. . . only to find out it is owned by the most powerful Mob family in Chicago, and that they’re laundering vast sums of money through dummy corporations around the world.

 

The FBI is pressuring him to become their informant . . . but perhaps there is one way out.

 

 

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

Presumed Innocent

 

Hailed as the most suspenseful and compelling novel in decades, Presumed Innocent brings to life our worst nightmare: that of an ordinary citizen facing conviction for the most terrible of all crimes.

 

This is  stunning portrayal of one man’s all-too-human, all-consuming fatal attraction for a passionate woman who is not his wife, and the story of how his obsession puts everything he loves and values on trial—including his own life.

 

 

Time to Kill by John Grisham

A Time to Kill

 

In A Time to Kill the life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town of Clanton in Ford County 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. 

 

For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client’s life-and then his own.

 

 

Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver

Anatomy of a Murder

 

First published by St. Martin’s in 1958, Robert Traver’s Anatomy of a Murder immediately became the number-one bestseller in America, and was subsequently turned into the successful and now classic Otto Preminger film. A gripping tale of deceit, murder and a sensational trial, this courtroom classic is unmatched in its authenticity and vivid portrayals of its setting, events, and characters. Irresistibly absorbing, it has set the standard for all courtroom dramas to come.

 

 

Exile by Richard North Patterson

Exile

 

David Wolfe is a successful American lawyer being primed for a run for Congress. But when the phone rings and he hears the voice of Hana Arif—the Palestinian woman with whom he had a secret affair in law school—he begins a completely unexpected journey. The next day, the prime minister of Israel is assassinated by a suicide bomber while visiting San Francisco. Soon, Hana is accused of being the mastermind behind the murder.

 

Now David faces an agonizing choice: Will he, a Jew, represent her?

 

 

Primal Fear by William Diehl

Primal Fear

 

Martin Vail, the brilliant “bad-boy” lawyer every prosecutor and politician love to hate, is defending Aaron Stampler: a man found holding a bloody butcher’s knife near a murdered archbishop.   Vail is certain to lose. But using his unorthodox ways to good advantage when choosing his legal team, Vail’s tight group of men and women uncover the extraordinary truth behind the archbishop’s slaughter…  

 

 

The Burden of Proof by Scott Turow

The Burden of Proof

 

Alejandro “Sandy” Stern–the brilliant defense lawyer from Presumed Innocent –comes home to discover that his wife of 30 years has committed suicide, leaving behind a web of mystery, money and guilt. While Stern hunts for answers, he is caught up in the threatened Federal prosecution of his most powerful and troublesome client–his own brother-in-law. Now, after a life of success, Sandy Stern is a man in desperate need of many truths–about his family, his uncertain future and the troubled legacy his wife left behind.

 

 

Compelling Evidence by Steve Martini

Compelling Evidence

 

Sharp defense attorney Paul Madriani was on the rise with the firm of Potter, Skarpellos… … until a short-lived affair with Potter’s wife cost him his job. Now, Potter’s wife is accused of his murder, and Paul is thrust back into the big time, as he uncovers secrets that may end his career. And his life.

 

 

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Scottoline

Mistaken Identity

 

Nothing can prepare criminal attorney Bennie Rosato for her new client, Alice Connolly, accused of brutally murdering her lover, a highly decorated police detective. Especially when Connolly, who bears an uncanny physical resemblance to Bennie, tells the astonished lawyer: “Pleased to meet you. I’m your twin. Your identical twin”. But Bennie grew up an only child. She doesn’t have a twin. Or does she? It is not until the verdict is in that she will finally learn the truth.

 

 

High Crimes by Joseph Finder

High Crimes

 

Claire Chapman has it all. A celebrity professor at Harvard Law School and high-powered criminal defense attorney, she has recently successfully defended a movie star in a rape trial. And she has a loving husband, Tom, and a cute six year old daughter. But this is all about to change. A random burglary sets off a terrifying chain of events. Tom is arrested and put on trial for a thirteen year old mass murder, and Claire puts her reputation on the line to defend him. But as the trial progresses, it becomes apparent that the Pentagon will let nothing stand in the way of Tom’s conviction and Claire’s faith in her husband is tested to the limit.

 

 

Jury of One by David Ellis

Jury of One

 

Shelly Trotter, the daughter of the state’s governor and a children’s rights advocate, is thrust into a world in which she’s completely unschooled – the criminal court. The defendant is a 17-year-old former client who is accused of killing a cop. Shelly soon learns that this boy was caught in the middle of an undercover operation to trap corrupt officers. But what was his role in the sting? The target or the bait? And what does the prosecution really have against him? 

 

 

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

The Lincoln Lawyer

 

 

Mickey Haller has spent all his professional life afraid that he wouldn’t recognize innocence if it stood right in front of him. But what he should have been on the watch for was evil. Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense attorney who operates out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car, traveling between the far-flung courthouses of Los Angeles to defend clients of every kind. But when a Beverly Hills rich boy is arrested for brutally beating a woman, Haller has his first high-paying client in years. It’s a franchise case and he’s sure it will be a slam dunk in the courtroom. For once, he may be defending a client who is actually innocent.

 

 

The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly

The Brass Verdict

 

Defense lawyer Mickey Haller has had some problems but now he’s put all that behind him and is ready to resume his career. Then another lawyer, Vincent, dies, and Haller gets an unexpected windfall: he inherits all Vincent’s clients – putting his stalled career back on track at a stroke. Not only that, but Vincent had taken on a high profile and potentially lucrative murder case. It’ll be a trial that promises big fees and an even bigger place in the media spotlight – and if Mickey can win against the odds, he’d really be back in the big leagues. The only problem is the detective handling the case – a certain Harry Bosch – is convinced the killer must be one of Vincent’s clients.

 

 

The Reversal by Michael Connelly

The Reversal

 

Longtime defense attorney Mickey Haller is recruited to change stripes and prosecute the high-profile retrial of a brutal child murder. After 24 years in prison, convicted killer Jason Jessup has been exonerated by new DNA evidence. Haller is convinced Jessup is guilty, and he takes the case on the condition that he gets to choose his investigator,:LAPD Detective Harry Bosch. Together, Bosch and Haller set off on a case fraught with political and personal danger. Opposing them is Jessup, now out on bail, a defense attorney who excels at manipulating the media, and a runaway eyewitness reluctant to testify after so many years. 

 

 

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly

The Fifteh Witness

 

Mickey Haller has fallen on tough times. He expands his business into foreclosure defense, only to see one of his clients accused of killing the banker she blames for trying to take away her home.  Mickey puts his team into high gear to exonerate Lisa Trammel, even though the evidence and his own suspicions tell him his client is guilty. Soon after he learns that the victim had black market dealings of his own, Haller is assaulted, too–and he’s certain he’s on the right trail. 

 

 

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

The Gods of Guilt

 

Mickey Haller gets the text, “Call me ASAP – 187,” and the California penal code for murder immediately gets his attention. Murder cases have the highest stakes and the biggest paydays, and they always mean Haller has to be at the top of his game.  When Mickey learns that the victim was his own former client, a prostitute he thought he had rescued and put on the straight and narrow path, he knows he’s on the hook for this one. Far from saving her, Mickey may have been the one who put her in danger. 

 

 

The Runaway Jury by John Grisham

The Runaway Jury

 

Every jury has a leader and the verdict belongs to him. In Biloxi, Mississippi, a landmark trial with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake begins routinely, then swerves mysteriously off course. The jury is behaving strangely, and at least one juror is convinced he’s being watched. Soon they have to be sequestered. Then a tip from an anonymous young woman suggests she is able to predict the juror’s increasingly odd behaviour. Is the jury somehow being manipulated, or even controlled? And, more importantly, why?

 

 

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob

 

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But Andy is blindsided by what happens next: his fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.  Every instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him.  But as damning facts surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own–between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive. 

 

 

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

Plain Truth

 

Jodi Picoult presents a fascinating portrait of Amish life rarely witnessed by those outside the faith – and discovers a place where circumstances are not always what they seem, where love meets falsehood, and where relationships grow strong enough to transcend death.When Ellie Hathaway decides to defend an unmarried Amish woman against the charge of the murder of her own child, the urban-savvy defense attorney finds herself caught in a clash of cultures with a people whose channels of justice are markedly different from her own.

 

 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird

 

Lawyer Atticus Finch defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel—a black man charged with the rape of a white woman. Through the eyes of Atticus’s children, Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930’s.

 

 

The Pelican Brief by John Grisham

The Pelican Brief

 

In suburban Georgetown, a killer’s Reeboks whisper on the floor of a posh home. In a seedy D.C. porno house, a patron is swiftly garroted to death. The next day America learns that two of its Supreme Court justices have been assassinated. And in New Orleans, a young law student prepares a legal brief.  To Darby Shaw it was no more than a legal shot in the dark, a brilliant guess. To the Washington establishment it’s political dynamite. Suddenly Darby is witness to a murder-a murder intended for her. 

 

 

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen Minutes

 

Set in a small town in the wake of a horrific school shooting, Nineteen Minutes features the return of two beloved Picoult characters – Jordan McAfee, the lawyer from The Pact and Salem Falls, who once again finds himself representing a boy who desperately needs someone on his side; and Patrick Ducharme, the intrepid detective introduced in Perfect Match, whose best witness is the daughter of the superior court judge assigned to the case. As the story unfolds, layer after layer is peeled back to ask some hard-hitting questions about the nature of justice, the balance of power and what it means to be different.

 

 

The Hanging Judge by Michael Ponsor

The Hanging Judge

 

When a drive-by shooting in Holyoke, Massachusetts, claims the lives of a Puerto Rican drug dealer and a nurse at a neighborhood clinic, the police arrest a black drug dealer. With no death penalty in Massachusetts, the US attorney shifts the double homicide out of state jurisdiction into federal court so that he can pursue the death penalty. And so, the Honorable David S. Norcross, who has been on the federal bench only two years, now presides over the first death penalty case in the state in fifty years. 

 

 

The Trial by Franz Kafka

The Trial

 

The Trial is one of Franz Kafka’s best-known works.

 

On his thirtieth birthday, the chief financial officer of a bank, Josef K., is unexpectedly arrested by two unidentified agents from an unspecified agency for an unspecified crime. Kafka never finished the novel and wrote in his will that it was to be destroyed, but after his death,  Max Brod went against Kafka’s wishes and edited the manuscript and had it published in 1925.

 

 

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

Midwives

 

On an icy winter night in an isolated house in rural Vermont, a seasoned midwife named Sibyl Danforth takes desperate measures to save a baby’s life. She performs an emergency cesarean section on a mother she believes has died of a stroke.

But what if Sibyl’s patient wasn’t dead—and Sibyl inadvertently killed her? As Sibyl faces the antagonism of the law, the hostility of traditional doctors, and the accusations of her own conscience, Midwives engages, moves, and transfixes us as only the very best novels ever do.