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As I’ve become more immersed in true crime, there’s a particular niche that one author has generally held reign over- and that’s legal thrillers- and John Grisham. Now if you’re like me, it may have taken you a while to deign to read a John Grisham- nothing personal, John, but my PARENTS read every one of your books. As a teen, that meant I couldn’t like them. But you know, maybe that’s for the best.
Side note, my beautiful and smart sister IS a lawyer- and that just makes these even more interesting to me.
Some of the parts of a legal thriller that I may have found boring when reading in high school are now the most interesting bits- specifically due process and what happens when the justice system fails us. Sadly, there is very much a racial bias within our Justice system. It’s awful and sad, but our system gets it wrong frequently.
That being said, there are a lot of books in this genre that are fun and exciting- but my first recommendation is going to be nonfiction. You’ve probably heard of it, especially with the movie that just came out. I’ll leave links below if you want to donate to the organization the book is about… I truly believe it is doing excellent work.
Five Chilling Legal Books
A Story of Justice and Redemption
This is a semi-biographic look at Bryan Stevenson’s career of working toward racial justice in our legal system- specifically with death row inmates. This concentrates on his representation of Walter McMillian and Anthony Ray Hinton, men who were falsely accused, convicted, and put on death row for a crime they did not commit.
If you don’t want to read this book (though I highly recommend it,) you should check out the film starring Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Brie Larson.
Check out a recent interview with Bryan Stevenson:
Okay John, you got me. I couldn’t not include one of his books on a list like this. I picked this one in particular (though he has written many and all the ones that I have read are consuming), because I think it’s an important read for everyone.
I won’t go over the plot too much here since chances are you’ve seen the movie with Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sandra Bullock. I’ll just say, it asks a question that a lot of us struggle with- is there a point where someone is so evil, where killing can be justified? This is a tough, tough read. Have something light-hearted near you for when you finish.
Ten years after pushing a jury to acquit a potential murder suspect, Maya becomes an accused murder suspect herself as secrets emerge from the case she was a juror on. This is a very twisty book, and will keep you guessing.
If you like your legal thrills with more chills, this is the one I’d recommend. Attorney Lizzie gets a call from her old school friend Zach- turns out he’s been arrested for the murder of his wife Amanda, and he wants Lizzie to represent him. As Lizzie investigates more about Zach and Amanda’s picture-perfect marriage, she becomes less and less sure that she knows what to believe. All I can say is, you think you know what’s going on, and you keep being wrong! This will keep you guessing.
I just noticed that two of my recs are movies that star Matthew McConaughey- but this movie has Marisa Tomei, and I just love her. I digress. Anyway, this is about a lawyer (Mickey) who practices law in his, you guessed it, Lincoln sedan. When he takes on a high-profile murder case, he begins questioning some of his earlier ‘wins’ and convictions- spurred on by the investigation he’s doing for his new client.