Grisham, John. Rogue Lawyer.

NY: Doubleday, 2015.

Grisham’s books have always been kind of hit-or-miss in my opinion, but this one isn’t bad. Sebastian Rudd is a well-known “street lawyer” in his part of the state, taking on those accused of horrific crimes the more white-shoe attorneys won’t touch. In fact, the story opens with the trial of a defendant so loathed in his small redneck town, Rudd has to have a police escort to get to the courthouse without being stoned by the mob. (His office was firebombed a couple of years before, so now he mostly works out of his chauffeured SUV.)


Published in: on 8 September 2016 at 4:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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Auchincloss, Louis. Diary of a Yuppie.

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986.

Robert Service is a thirty-two-year-old New York attorney, a specialist in corporate takeovers, who, after eight years as an associate in his large firm, has been promised a partnership at the beginning of the year — but does he really want it? Service analyzes absolutely everything around him and a close analysis of the leadership of his firm leads him to conclude that it’s a slowly sinking ship.


Published in: on 19 June 2016 at 1:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Connelly, Michael. The Crossing.

NY: Little, Brown, 2015.

Harry Bosch was a cop in the LAPD for more for thirty years and a homicide detective for two decades, practically a legend in the Department. He extended his stay as long as possible, but now he’s finally retired for good. His daughter is going off to college in the fall and Harry figures he’ll spend some time restoring an old Harley. But then Mickey Haller calls, his half-brother and a noted defense attorney.


Published in: on 26 May 2016 at 3:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Margolin, Phillip. After Dark.

NY: Bantam, 1996.

Margolin is one of those authors who seems always to have a couple of recent volumes on the bookstore rack, but who otherwise flies under the radar in terms of awards or featured reviews. He’s been a criminal defense attorney for several decades, so it’s no surprise that he specializes in legal thrillers, or that he sets most of them in his home territory of Oregon.


Published in: on 4 February 2016 at 5:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Grisham, John. The Runaway Jury.

NY: Doubleday, 1996.

I’ve been reading Grisham off and on for some time, but I haven’t been systematic about it and I don’t sit and wait for his latest. I just read the jacket copy and pick up whatever looks like an entertaining read at the moment. This one, which kept me focused all the way through, is perhaps the best of his I’ve come across.


Published in: on 30 January 2016 at 2:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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Roffe, David. Decoding Domesday.

Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 2007.

As both an historian and an archivist, I’ve long been fascinated by Domesday Book, the oldest surviving government-produced document in the English-speaking world, ordered by the Conqueror and completed about 1087 — a surprisingly short time. It was part-census, part-inquest, compiled to establish a base for taxation and to record the pre- and post-Conquest control of the land in detail.


Published in: on 6 January 2016 at 4:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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Block, Lawrence. Defender of the Innocent: The Casebook of Martin Ehrengraf.

Burton, MI: Subterranean Press, 2014.

Block has been writing — and publishing — fiction for an amazing number of decades, most of it crime-related, though he attempted many other forms when he was starting out. In the late 1970s, he began a series of short stories, all but one of which appeared in Ellery Queen, featuring a defense attorney who worked on contingency: If he didn’t get you off, you didn’t pay.


Published in: on 10 September 2015 at 7:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sawyer, Robert. Illegal Alien.

NY: Ace, 1997.

I’ve read most of Sawyer’s novels over the years and the one thing they all have in common is, they’re just so . . . Canadian. Sometimes almost to the point of cliché, in his portrayal of both nice Canadians and untrustworthy Americans.


Jones, Terry & Alan Ereira. Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives.

London: BBC Books, 2004.

Terry Jones, one of the leading lights of the Monty Python team, is actually a pretty smart person and he doesn’t just do oddball comedy. He has a longstanding interest in history (even did a university degree) and this volume accompanies the eight-episode television series of the same name that he wrote for the BBC.


De la Bédoyère, Guy. The Romans for Dummies.

NY: Wiley, 2006.

When this series (as well as “The Idiots Guide to” books) first got started, reviewers always made fun of the running title, and often of the mandatory bad jokes and puns scattered through the text. As time goes on, though, some of the individual volumes have turned out to be quite good. I have a strong background in Greek and Roman history, so I was interested in how well they would pull this one off, and I was very pleasantly surprised.