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These Legal Thrillers Set in New York City Will Keep You Up All Night

In the city that never sleeps, the crime doesn't rest either. 

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  • Photo Credit: Niklas Herrmann / Unsplash

New York City is a city of many faces. It’s the city that never sleeps. The land of opportunity and the heart of the financial world. But there’s always been a darker side to the city.

A side filled with crime and corruption stretching all across the five boroughs. And while there is no shortage of fascinating criminals, the legal professionals can be just as intriguing.  

Some fight for justice, while others use the law as a weapon in their search for power, fame, and fortune.

From dirty cops to federal prosecutors, defense attorneys, and corporate lawyers, here are nine legal thrillers set in New York City that explore the more sinister side of the law. 

Final Jeopardy

Final Jeopardy

By Linda Fairstein

Alexandra Cooper is Manhattan’s top sex crimes prosecutor. When she wakes up to headlines of her own murder, it’s a shock.

But the true victim was a Hollywood film star who had taken refuge at Alex’s home in Martha’s Vineyard. It’s impossible to tell if it’s a case of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time and mistaken for Alex, or if a stalker killed the star.

As the investigation moves through New York City, Alex realizes someone wants her dead. From lower Manhattan to the Upper East Side, Alex has to get into a killer’s head before they get to her first. 

Act of Revenge

Act of Revenge

By Robert K. Tanenbaum

New York City chief Assistant District Attorney Butch Karp is no stranger to crime.

But when he and his family find themselves in the middle of an escalating mafia turf war, the stakes have never been higher.

Because it isn’t Butch or his private security consultant wife who they gangs are targeting, but their twelve-year-old daughter.  

Triple Homicide

Triple Homicide

By Charles J. Hynes

In the early 1990s, money is easy is New York City. It’s a temptation not even decorated NYPD Sergeant Steven Holt can resist.

Unfortunately, things go from bad to worse when Steven and his uncle Robert, also an officer, get caught up in a violent scandal that puts not just their career but the entire department on the line.

But as Steven stands trial for a triple homicide, he’s about to come face to face with his past and learn that nothing was ever exactly what it seemed. 

The Good Lawyer

The Good Lawyer

By Thomas Benigno

Defense Attorney Nick Manino is determined to escape the scars of his past. Out to prove he’s better than the father who abandoned him, he refuses to get embroiled with the mobster family he grew up in. Diligently working, he amasses a stunning success rate. By twisting the law to his advantage, he has yet to have a single client convicted. 

But when an outraged rape victim commits suicide in front of him, he desperately scrambles to find absolution by defending a client he’s convinced is innocent.

Only the deeper he gets, the more he realizes his client might not only be guilty but is associated with a sociopath terrorizing New York City. To win, Nick might have to lose. And to get justice, he might have to embrace his family’s mafia past. 

Central Park West

Central Park West

By James Comey

Federal prosecutor Nora Carleton finally catches a break in a years-long case against a powerful mobster when an impeachable witness agrees to take the stand.

As the testimony ends, the defense hands the prosecution a note offering valuable information into the murder of a disgraced former New York governor. The governor’s wife stands accused of the crime, but this evidence could blow the case out of the water.

The information sends Nora into an investigation steeped in conspiracy and corruption. And the deeper she gets, the more danger she might be in. 

Clean Hands

Clean Hands

By Patrick Hoffman

Corporate lawyer Elizabeth Carlyle is working on one of her prestigious firm’s most high-stakes case. But when she gets a call that one of the junior associates lost his phone—and the secret documents stored on it, Elizabeth needs help.

She calls ex-CIA agent Valencia Walker to help solve the problem discreetly. It’s what Valencia does, and she’s good at her job. But when someone else finds the phone and blackmails the firm, things get complicated.

Even worse, documents are being leaked to the press, making the situation almost unsalvageable. With billions of dollars on the line, Elizabeth and Valencia have to find out who’s behind the attack.

And escape with their hands clean. 

The Devil's Advocate

The Devil's Advocate

By Andrew Neiderman

Joining the Manhattan criminal law firm is everything Kevin Taylor and his wife dreamed it would be.

It comes with a chauffeur, a luxury apartment, and the chance to make a name for himself. It also comes with a dark side. As he throws himself into his work, he starts to notice a pattern emerging.

His firm always wins—no matter the case, no matter the cost. But when he realizes the true nature of evil infecting the practice, there’s no turning back. 

A Good Marriage

A Good Marriage

By Kimberly McCreight

Lizzie Kitsakis is working late when an old friend calls her from Rikers needing her help.

Zach Grayson is desperate. His wife Amanda was found dead at the bottom of their Brooklyn Brownstone stairs. And he’s the primary suspect.

As Lizzie starts investigating their Park Slope life, she realizes that Zach and Amanda’s marriage wasn’t exactly what it seemed. But they aren’t the only ones.

Everyone in their circle seems to be protecting secrets of their own. It makes Lizzie wonder if a good marriage can even exist—including her own. 

The Boys' Club

The Boys' Club

By Erica Katz

Alex Vogel has worked hard her entire life. So when she gets offered a position at a prestigious Manhattan law firm, she jumps at the chance. She’s quickly wrapped up in the intoxicating company culture.

It exudes the two things she wants: money and power. But the harder she works, the more she’s expected to give. And when the dark reality of the firm comes to light, Alex starts to see that maybe the system of success is rigged.

Maybe women can’t win no matter how hard they try.

Unwilling to stand silently by, she has to make a choice. Stay quiet and hope for recognition, or speak up and expose the shocking truth. 

Featured image: Niklas Herrmann / Unsplash