Photo by Diana Percy
With fall descending upon us, that means cozy sweaters, hot chocolate and of course a good book. There’s nothing better than snuggling up with the perfect page turner. For me, that means a legal thriller. I know, I know, I sound like an old dud. But come on, who doesn’t get a little excited when justice is served. We all love that moment when Elle Woods uncovers the real truth behind who murdered Brooke’s husband in Legally Blonde. And if you just can’t get enough courtroom drama, I’ve compiled a guide to some of my favorite legal thrillers: The Firm by John Grisham and 19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult. While both center around an impending court case, they all are full of different characters and subplots. One will leave you on the edge of your seat; the other will pull on your heartstrings until you cry.
For someone looking for a classic court case drama, look no further. John Grisham has written a seemingly never-ending list of legal thrillers, each one more famous than the last. But “The Firm” was what made him a household name. Two years after the book was written in 1988, it was made into a movie, so everyone can watch a young Tom Cruise as America’s favorite lawyer.
The main character is Mitchell McDeere, a newly graduated Harvard Law Student with the perfect resume we all wish we had. He’s got every major law firm looking to hire him. But instead of heading to New York or Chicago to become the next legal tycoon, he takes a job at a smaller 40-person firm in Memphis, Tennessee. The smaller Bendini Firm is irresistible, promising him benefits galore and a salary no 20-year-old will find anywhere else. But the wealth comes with strings attached. Mitch soon realizes that most of the firm’s clients are on the wrong side of the law, and before Mitch realizes what he’s gotten himself into, he’s already become apart of it.
The lofty 500 page book would keep me awake at night, as I lay in my bed turning page after page. I began to take it everywhere with me, eagerly wanting to know what would happen next as I sat in my car getting gas. “The Firm” is the quintessential book for anyone looking for a good legal thriller.
Courtroom drama doesn’t even begin to describe this book. Even if this genre isn’t your taste, I would still highly recommend it. It’ll make you cry almost as much as Jojo Moyes’ “Me Before You” did.
The story is dramatic from the beginning. Peter Houghton is a junior at Sterling High and he’s brought a gun into his school. In 19 minutes he kills ten people — nine students and one teacher — and injures many more. The book goes back and forth between two time periods: Peter’s childhood leading up to the shooting, and the shooting and impending trial that comes afterwards.
The thing that left me in awe of this book was that I actually found myself feeling sorry for Peter. This is partially thanks to his lawyer, Jordan McAfee, who perfectly fills the role of a criminal defense attorney. He exactly mirrored my childhood obsession with becoming a lawyer, from his ingenious ideas to his on the spot thinking.
“19 Minutes” has a little bit of everything: action and crime, romance, humor and heartache. It even sprinkles in the perfect plot twist at the end.