Order in the court

Watching some of my college classmates take the bar exam and attain their law degrees has me hankering for a good courtroom drama. While we can’t all observe a thrilling legal case firsthand, we can certainly take a front row seat in an imaginative work of fiction. A peek into another walk of life also aligns with our summer reading theme, “Escape the Ordinary.” The list below features hard-hitting stories with riveting courtroom scenes sure to keep you engaged during the dog days of summer.

Defending Jacob by William Landay – 14-year-old Jacob, son of a respected district attorney, is charged with the shocking murder of a fellow student. His father attempts to exonerate him in the face of mounting evidence while struggling hold his family together.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan – A high court judge in London is faced with one of the most controversial cases of her career when a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses refuses a potentially lifesaving blood transfusion for their teenage son. At the same time, her husband moves out and she must contend with conflicts in both spheres.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver – In a series of deeply personal letters, the mother of a mass murderer confesses her darkest feelings and doubts, from her questionable parenting to her possible responsibility for the crime.

The Good Father by Noah Hawley – A father has trouble coping with his 20-year-old son’s confessed assassination of a presidential candidate. Spanning from the son’s birth to his imminent execution date, his father is agonized with guilt in his search for the truth.

Presumed Innocent and Innocent by Scott Turow – The first book in this duo was published in 1987, followed over 20 years later by its sequel. In both, Rusty Sabich (first a lawyer, later a judge) is convicted of murder, and, in an eerie role reversal, must become the defendant. Is he innocent, or guilty?

(Flickr photo by Brian Turner, available via a Creative Commons attribution license.)

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