“We turn now to the issue of what constitutes an appropriate punishment for your various infractions,” said the judge in the middle, the gray-haired one whose name Jaywalker always had trouble remembering. [First Sentence]
The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller
Mira, 2008 (ARE)
Crime Fiction; 388 pgs
From the Publisher:
Criminal defense attorney Harrison J. Walker, better known as Jaywalker, has just been suspended for using "creative" tactics and receiving "gratitude" in the courtroom stairwell from a client charged with prostitution. Convincing the judge that his other clients are counting on him, Jaywalker is allowed to complete ten cases. But it's the last case that truly tests his abilities—and his acquittal record. Samara Moss—young, petite and sexy as hell—stabbed her husband in the heart. Or so everyone believes. Having married the elderly billionaire when she was an eighteen-year-old former prostitute, Samara appears to be the clichéd gold digger. But Jaywalker knows all too well that appearances can be deceiving. Who else could have killed the billionaire? Has Samara been framed? Or is Jaywalker just driven by his need to win his clients' cases—and this particular client's undying gratitude?Joseph Teller's novel, The Tenth Case, was true to life, notably with regards to the little nuances of the preparation for and the actual trial process. In one respect, it was a refreshing change from many legal thrillers I have read in the past in that, despite Jaywalker's blurring of convention, the author did not turn the story into a run for your life, action packed thrill ride with gun or fist fights. Just the same, the novel was plenty suspenseful as Jaywalker struggles to defend a woman whose innocence even he questions as the trial unfolds. There were a couple of slow spots in which I worried that the author had gone into too much detail. However, I also realize that my familiarity with the court process might have contributed to that feeling. Even then, the book would pick up again right away and not once did I lose interest in the story line or the characters.
Defense attorney Jaywalker is a bit of a maverick, not afraid of making his own rules as he goes along. It has obviously landed him in trouble, resulting in his three year suspension from practicing law. He has a conscience and a sense of fair play, however, that balances out the "bad boy" image. He’s easy to like and no doubt a good person to have on your side in a pinch. Samara Moss straddles that line as well. I never completely warmed up to her character, but it was easy to see how the past impacted the decisions she would make throughout her life.
Jaywalker is one of those complex characters that has many layers, some of which were peeled back enough to tempt the reader to want to learn more about him. I look forward to reading more by Joseph Teller and seeing what trouble Jaywalker can get out of next time.
Thank you to TJ Dietderich of Planned Television Arts for the opportunity to read this book!
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