10 Legal Thrillers on Alafair Burke’s Bookshelf
Editor’s Note: Alafair Burke is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven novels, including THE EX, LONG GONE, and the Ellie Hatcher series. She is also the co-author of the Under Suspicion series with Mary Higgins Clark. Their latest collaboration is THE SLEEPING BEAUTY KILLER. A former prosecutor, Alafair is now a Professor of Law at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University.
I like books about lawyers. Where real trials are long and often dry, novels can skip all the boring stuff and show only the juicy parts. Even when lawyers aren’t in court, their work is rich with story potential: gathering evidence, winning over reluctant witnesses, delving into all sorts of long-buried secrets. Here are a few of my favorite legal thrillers.
I love books that bend genre. DEFENDING JACOB’s legal heft and realism reflect William Landay’s expertise as a former prosecutor, but the novel tells a lawyer’s story from an intensely personal perspective. It’s as much about family, loyalty, and community as it is about the American legal system. It’s also a darn good thriller.
While too many courtroom thrillers substitute legal jargon and evidentiary spats for character and plot development, Scott Turow showed us that the twists and turns of a criminal trial could make for gritty drama. PRESUMED INNOCENT is also a remarkable use of the unreliable narrator. If you’ve never read this classic, pick it up.
3The Bone Vault
Linda Fairstein’s Alexandra Cooper showed readers that prosecutors aren’t always the stuffed-shirt hindrances so frequently depicted in fiction. This entry in a consistently strong series takes readers behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History.
5The Lincoln Lawyer
Criminal defense lawyer Mickey Haller is neither saint nor scoundrel. He’s also like no other lawyer depicted in crime fiction, working every angle from the back of his car. Michael Connelly shows us the daily work of a trial lawyer, all the way down to his choice of office supplies.