My new book has a few courtroom scenes in it, so besides reading about practicing law and how a courtroom works, and paying close attention to Law and Order, I have decided to read some legal thrillers to see the language other writers have used to bring such scenes to life. I want to see examples of scenes that have been pulled off successfully and dramatically so that in my YA book the audience will be excited when a courtroom scene comes and not want to skip through it.
So, naturally, I first went to John Grisham. My local library only had a couple of his books in, but The Client looked appealing (and I haven’t seen the movie)–it was about a kid, so it seemed even more up my research alley.
Jacket blurb: “This is the story of eleven-year-old Mark Sway, who, as the novel opens, witnesses the bizarre suicide of a New Orleans attorney. Just before he dies, the lawyer tells Mark a deadly secret concerning the recent murder of a Louisiana Senator, whose accused killer, Mafia thug Barry Muldanno, is about to go to trial. The police, the federal prosecutor, and the FBI pressure Mark to tell them the attorney’s last words, but he knows that with the mob watching his every move, revealing his secret will almost surely get him killed.”
Overall, I was unimpressed. I was expecting some pretty big things, at least plot-wise, since this was John Grisham. I thought best-sellers, especially “thrillers,” were supposed to be all about plot–really great stories that allow readers to overlook any other weaknesses that beginning writers like myself can’t afford to have in our own work.
Steph Bowe, on her blog “Hey! Teenager of the Year,” coincidentally just did a book review of Grisham’s new YA book, Theodore Boone, Young Lawyer, and I think her review of that book pretty much matches my review for this book. Read it here.
In The Client, I felt like Mark also acted like a “miniature adult” instead of an 11 year-old boy, and that by the end I felt like not a whole lot had happened. Plus, there were hardly any courtroom scenes, and the few there were didn’t help me out much for my own book.
So I’m still in the hunt for some good legal thrillers, or other good legal/courtroom novels. Any suggestions?