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7 Must-Read Legal Thrillers to Captivate You With Courtroom Drama

As readers you are not to be swayed by sympathy. 

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  • Photo Credit: Tingey Injury Law Firm / Unsplash

While I can't speak for everyone, I know that many legal thriller book enthusiasts enjoy legal thrillers because they're unyieldingly curious people.

It's more than just wanting to know whodunnit; it's a need to understand the minds of criminals and to make sense of the incomprehensible things humans can be capable of doing. 

For some, it's also the comfort that comes from recognizing everyday law professionals as heroes. Yes, things can go badly in the world, but they can't be that bad if a regular, everyday person can put the criminals behind bars, right? 

Wrong. Well, sometimes wrong. Because even though America believes in "Equal Justice Under the Law," justice is a fickle moral concept that looks different to everybody.

Justice to the readers of legal thriller books may look like putting the bad guy in jail to rot, but to the bad guy in question, justice probably looked like murdering the person their spouse cheated on them with. Or robbing the bank to get back at the government who chose not to help them when they were poor. 

Now, this isn't a justification for immoral behavior; murder and robbery are wrong. But playing devil's advocate is the reason why authors of legal thrillers keep writing them, and why enjoyers of legal thriller books keep reading them.

The best courtroom drama books are believable, well-constructed, and expertly written; allow me to introduce you to seven great legal thrillers for those with an insatiable curiosity about crime and the courtroom. 

Rogue Justice: A Thriller (Avery Keene Book 2)

Rogue Justice: A Thriller (Avery Keene Book 2)

By Stacey Abrams

A clever and witty suspense novel from Stacey Abrams, Rogue Justice combines inspiration from current events and Abrams' unique industry expertise to produce a convoluted yet incredibly entertaining novel.

Supreme Court clerk Avery Keene returns in this story, this time approached at a legal conference by Preston Davies, a young fellow law clerk from Idaho. Convinced that his boss, Judge Francesca Whitner, was being blackmailed in the days before she died, he gives Avery a file and a burner phone, and asks for her help. 

Avery is on the case, but Preston warned her that there are highly dangerous people involved in this scheme. And it only gets worse, as another unexpected murder leads Avery to a list of United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judges—the folks who wiretap Americans and spy on terrorist corporations.

The deeper she gets into the case, the more frightening the reality seems to become, but Avery must work quickly before more lives are squandered. 

Against the Law

Against the Law

By Jay Brandon

Known for being one of the best authors of legal thrillers out there, Jay Brandon creates a relatable, atmospheric courtroom melodrama in Against the Law.

Edward hall is a lawyer-turned-ex-convict who thought his days in court were behind him…until his sister is arrested for murder, and she's insistent that Edward is the only one who can save her. 

Dr. Amy Hall is being accused of shooting her ex-husband that she supposedly reconciled with. Complicated enough already, the media won't leave this case alone, as a doctor murdering another doctor in cold blood is unheard of.  

Edward promises to do whatever he can to help save his sister from a terrible fate, but being back in the courtroom with the same judge who put him away all those years ago is not boding well for them. Can he forego the personal grudges and his spare his sister from a fatal sentencing? 

Bad Trust

Bad Trust

By Michael A. Kahn

Fast-paced and family-oriented, (sort of), Bad Trust is a St. Louis-based courtroom drama surrounding a fatal trust fund dispute. 

Rachel Gold is hired to bring suit on behalf of the sisters of Isaiah, CEO of the family firm he stole from his father. But when Isaiah is found murdered in his office, Rachel's case gets more complicated; she must now defend one sister against fratricide charges. 

The problem with this is that it sucks Rachel into a detective's nightmare of the extremely complex dynamic of this family. And as her team works to collect crucial evidence, she finds herself struggling with her own family issues at home, with her young son Sam and her boyfriend Abe. 

Silence in Court

Silence in Court

By Patricia Wentworth

A heartbreaking London courtroom drama that alternates between a murder trial and the events leading up to it, Silence in Court keeps you guessing until the very end. 

Carey Silence, a penniless orphan, arrived at the doorstep of her wealthy cousin, Honoria Maquisten, with the hopes that the place would be her saving grace. Though Honoria was a little domineering, and mystery and scandal ran rampant throughout the house, Carey had hope for a while. 

Her handsome, self-appointed protector Jefferson Stewart contributed to that hope too. Honoria even showed Carey a dazzling diamond and ruby necklace that she promised would be Carey's one day, and set it in stone by announcing that she's going to draw up a new will! 

But before she even gets to it, a fatal dose of sleeping pills claims her life, and naturally, Carey is the one arrested for her murder. 

Triple Homicide

Triple Homicide

By Charles J. Hynes

The realness depicted in this story full of hot-button topics like the corruption within the police force is put on display by Charles J. Hynes, a legal thriller author who was once a Brooklyn district attorney.

The temptation to give into financial bribery in 1990's New York is an equally common moral struggle for young and accomplished NYPD officers like Sargeant Steven Holt, and for the older members of the force like Steven's uncle Robert. 

But when an increasingly violent case puts both their careers and the reputation of the entire department on the line, Sergeant Holt ends up standing trial for a triple homicide that he didn't commit. The more he gets to know about his past, the more he realizes that nothing was ever as it seemed; perhaps challenging the fabled “blue wall” was the right move after all. 

Question of Consent

Question of Consent

By Seymour Wishman

In an unlikely yet entirely possible plot, Question of Consent is exactly what the title suggests it is. Rape victim Lisa Altman had to simply grin and bear it as she watched defense attorney Michael Roehmer seamlessly and mercilessly set flames to her testimony, convincing the New York jury to let her rapist walk free. 

She knows that Roehmer cares nothing about right and wrong, he only plays to win. She thinks it's sickening. But when her rapist has been brutally murdered and the evidence insists she did it, she has no one else to turn to but Roehmer. 

She needs the best legal help there is…her freedom and her life depend on it. 

Nibble & Kuhn

Nibble & Kuhn

By David Schmahmann

A great legal thriller book for those who need a romantic side plot, Nibble & Kuhn is full of the impossible: an impossibly salvageable law firm reputation, an impossible case, and an impossible relationship. 

Derek is up for partner at Nibble & Kuhn just as the firm goes for a laughable attempt at a rebrand for the digital era. At the same time, Derek is assigned to a high visibility lawsuit just weeks before trial.

And as the cherry on top, Derek manages to get Maria Parma, the new associate for whom Derek's fallen deeply in love with to the case. The problem? She's engaged…and not to Derek. 

Maria's mixed messages, his career anxieties, and the preparation for the trial on behalf of six young victims of an industrial polluter swirl around his tormented mind. As a result, Derek prompts a line of inquiry that not even the judge, jury, and other attorneys can control. 

Featured image: Tingey Injury Law Firm / Unsplash