- The Strange Schemes of Randolph Mason, by Melville Davisson Post, was originally published in 1896.
- This is a hard-to-classify series of stories: Randolph Mason is a lawyer who gets his clients off, not by revealing the truth, but by any means necessary.
- Where Judge Dee falls in the chronology is also hard to classify. To quote from the Trout Works site: "The real-life Judge Dee lived and solved crimes in T'ang China (7th century); this collection of mysteries [Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee] featuring him was written in the Ming Dynasty a thousand years later. Robert van Gulik, a Dutch diplomat, found a copy of the book in 1940 and translated it for his own amusement while interned by the Japanese during WWII. After the war, he wrote a whole series of sequels..."
- The Chinese Nail Murders
The Chinese Bell Murders, 1958
The Chinese Gold Murders
The Chinese Maze Murders
Dee Goong An (aka Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee)
The Emperor's Pearl
The Haunted Monastery
Judge Dee at Work
The Lacquer Screen
The Monkey and the Tiger
Murder in Canton
Necklace and Calabash
The Phantom of the Temple
Poets and Murder (aka The Fox-Magic Murders)
The Red Pavilion
The Willow Pattern
- Raymond William Postgate's 1940 novel, Verdict of Twelve
- was more a novel of social psychology than a mystery.
- An early version of a legal thriller was Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie.
- Rumpole of the Bailey
- was the first British entry to the legal mystery scene.
- Perry Mason, as listed above,
- was the first American entry to be unequivocally a legal mystery series.
- Michael Gilbert published Smallbone Deceased, another British entry, in 1950.
- Gilbert also wrote The Queen Against Karl Mullen, in 1991.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 1960
- Not usually thought of in the same context as "legal mystery/courtroom drama" -- yet it is indeed that, and more.
- Paul Levine published
- To Speak for the Dead in the same year, 1960
- Night Vision 1992
- False Dawn 1993
- Mortal Sin 1994
- Slashback 1995
- Fool Me Twice 1996
- Flesh and Bones 1997
- 9 Scorpions 1998
- Joe Hensley wrote
- The Song of Corpus Juris, 1974
- The Poison Summer, 1974
- Rivertown Risk, 1977
- A Killing in Gold
- Minor Murders
- Outcasts, 1981
- Final Doors, 1981
- Rubak's Cross, 1985
- Rubak's Fire, 1986
- Color Him Guilty
- Fort's Law
- Robak's Firm, 1987
- Robak's Run
- Grim City
- Robak's Witch, 1997
- Lose Coins, 1998 (with Guy M. Townsend
- Richard North Patterson received the Edgar Award for The Lasko Tangent in 1979, then reappeared with a bang in 1993 and has been going strong since.
- The Lasko Tangent (first printed in 1979)
- Degree of Guilt (first printed 1993)
- Private Screening, 1993
- Eyes of a Child, 1995
- The Outside Man, 1995
- The Final Judgement, 1995
- Silent Witness, 1997
- No Safe Place, 1998 (a political thriller, but with a walk-on part for the recurring charcters from former novels, Tony Lord and his wife)
- Dark Lady, 1999 (A novel about a stadium scandal! Must go on my TBR list!)
- Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Cauldwell, 1981
- is another British entry (these seem few, from the U.S. side of the water, but excellent). Amazon doesn't classify this as a legal mystery, but should.
- Anatomy of a Murder, 1983, by Robert Traver
- might be credited with setting the standard for the genre of courtroom drama.
- Robert Traver has another: People Versus Kirk
- Sara Woods published an extensive series about attorney Anthony Maitland:
- all currently out of print.
- Carolyn Wheat has a lawyer background.
- Her first legal mystery about Legal Aid attorney Cass Jameson was published in 1983. She is still publishing.
- George V. Higgins has three novels about Jerry Kennedy, the "best sleazy lawyer in Boston" and one off-series legal thriller:
- The Judgement of Deke Hunter
- Kennedy for the Defense
- Penance for Jerry Kennedy
- Defending Billy Ryan: A Jerry Kennedy Novel
- Next to publish legal mysteries was E.X. Giroux
- with his series character attorney Robert Forsythe.
- Michael Nava has published a number of novels examining gay rights in America. Some do so in a legal mystery setting.
- The Little Death, 1986
- The Hidden Law, 1992
- How Town, 1994 Reprint
- The Death of Friends, 1996
- The Burning Plain, 1998
- William G. Tapply has published sixteen mystery novels
- featuring Brady Coyne, a Boston attorney serving a wealthy clientele.
- Robert K. Tannenbaum's Assistant District Attorney Butch Karp
- deals with the meaner streets of Manhattan in a series that starts with No Lesser Plea, 1987.
- The best-seller book, blockbuster movie succes of Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow, in 1987 really triggered the flood of courtroom drama/legal thriller. Scott Turow is also an attorney, whose first book, One L, was an account of his first year at Harvard law school. After Presumed Innocent he continued his strong legal thrillers with:
- The Burden of Proof
- Pleading Guilty
- The Laws of Our Fathers
- Personal Injuries
- and edited the Mystery Writer of America anthology of legal system stories, Guilty As Charged
- Lia Matera began her legal novels, most appropriately, with Where Lawyers Fear to Tread (1987) when Willa Jansson's last year of law school is nearly cut short by multiple murders of law review editors.
- Both of her lawyer characters, Willa Jansson and Lauri DiPalma, continue to practice.
- The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey
- is nothing like a "legal thriller" or "courtroom drama" -- the main mystery is whether there is a mystery.
- Ralph M. McInerny, who also wrote the Father Dowling series
- had a series of cute punning titles about lawyer Andrew Bloom. The first was in 1987. The latest is Heirs and Parents, 2000.
- J.P. Hailey wrote
- The Baxter Trust, The Underground Man, The Naked Typist, The Wrong Gun and The Anonymous Client.
- John Grisham
- has been one of the most prolific authors in the lawyer-thriller genre, beginning with The Firm. The Street Lawyer is reviewed above; more reviews at Amazon.
- Ronald Levitsky featured a civil rights lawyer, Nate Rosen, in four novels:
- The Truth That Kills, The Love That Kills, The Spirit That Kills and Stone Boy.
- Frederick D. Huebner has a series with lawyer Matt Riordan
(this is also a Pacific Northwest location series)
- I have read and enjoyed Picture Postcard (1990), but all the books sem to be out of print, and hard to find.
- Someone I want to find: Charles Sevilla, author of Disorder in the Court: Great Fractured Moments in Courtroom History (1999) wrote two earlier fictional accounts of courtroom absurdity that are now out of print:
- Wilkes, 1990
- Wilkes on Trial, 1993
- Wilkes : His Life and Crimes, 1994 (?)
- Cry of Shadows (1990) by Ed Gorman; main character - lawyer Jack Dwyer
- is another book I've had recommended, but never found.
- John Lescroart entered the legal mystery field in 1991 (after a couple of earlier (and out of print) mystery novels including Son of Holmes). Most of his legal thrillers feature Dismas Hardy, a dart-playing, saloon-keeping lawyer.
- The Vig, originally printed in 1991, was reprinted in 1998
- Hard Evidence, 1992
- The 13th Juror, 1994
- A Certain Justice, 1995
- Guilt, 1998
- The Mercy Rule, 1999
- Nothing But the Truth, 2000
- Julie Smith has several characters; Rebecca Schwartz is a lawyer:
- Dead in the Water, 1991
- Death Turns a Trick, 1992
- Tourist Trap, 1992
- Other People's Skeletons, 1994
- The Sourdough Wars, 1994
- William Barnhardt began the career of attorney Ben Kincaid in 1992.
- Primary Justice, 1992
- Blind Justice, 1992
- Deadly Justice, 1993
- Perfect Justice, 1995
- Double Jeopardy, 1996
- Cruel Justice, 1997
- Naked Justice, 1997
- Extreme Justice, 1998
- Legal Briefs, 1998, Editor: anthology of stories by author-attorneys
- The Midnight Before Christmas, 1998
- Dark Justice, 1999
- Silent Justice, 2000
- Kate Wilhelm is an award-winning science fiction writer who crosses many genres, including mainstream fiction, psychological suspense and humor. Her lawyer character Barbara Holloway was introduced in a cross-genre legal suspense novel with sf complications, and has carried on.
- Death Qualified, 1992
- The Best Defense
- For the Defense
- Defense for the Devil
- No Defense
- and Judge Sarah Drexler in Justice for Some
- Bestselling crime author Ridley Pearson
- crossed into the legal genre with Probable Cause in 1992.
- Dana Stabenow's
character Kate Shugak is an anomaly, belonging more truly under the
category of Female P.I.
- I mention her here because she was an investigator for the Anchorage D.A.'s office before she burned out and moved to the Aleut peninsula. Her first adventure,Fire and Ice, was published in 1992.
- Gini Hartzmark introduced her attorney Katharine Millholland in 1992 with
- Principal Defense, followed by
- Bitter Business, 1995
- Fatal Reaction, 1998
- Rough Trade, 1999
- Dead Certain, 2000
- Lisa Scottoline is an experienced trial lawyer who has written seven legal thrillers, beginning with Everywhere That Mary Went in 1993.
- The most recent is Moment of Truth.
- Steve Martini has been one of the strongest authors in the legal mystery field since the introduction of his attorney character Paul Madriani in 1993:
- Compelling Evidence (introduction of Paul Madriani)
- Prime Witness
- Undue Influence (possibly the best)
- The Simeon Chamber (off-series)
- The Judge (a wish-fulfillment dream for all those following the series)
- The List (off-series)
- Critical Mass (off-series)
- The Attorney (back to Paul Madriani!)
- Bestselling junk-food-fiction provider Michael Crichton provided a legal-thriller-turned-movie
- with Disclosure in 1994.
- Nancy Taylor Rosenburg, a former police officer, began her legal action thrillers in 1993
Mitigating Circumstances (Assistant District Attorney Lily Forrester)
- Interest of Justice, 1994 (Judge Lara Sanderstone)
- First Offense, 1995 (Probation officer Ann Carlisle)
- Trial by Fire, 1996 (D.A. Stella Cataloni)
- Abuse of Power (this tale of abuse of police power never gets to the courtroom)
- Barbara Parker was a prosecutor for the Dade County State Attorney's office. She has written a series starring Miami attorney Gail Connor, and other out-of-series legal thrillers.
- Suspicion of Innocence, 1994 (Gail Connor)
- Suspicion of Guilt, 1996 (Gail Connor)
- Blood Relations, 1997 (Sam Hagen)
- Criminal Justice, 1998 (Dan Galindo)
- Suspicion of Deceit, 1999 (Gail Connor)
- Suspicion of Betrayal, 2000 (Gail Connor)
- The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey) was published in English in 1994.
- William Diehl has two Martin Vail novels:
- Show of Evil, 1995
- Primal Fear, 1996
- Dexter Dias
- False Witness, 1995
- Error of Judgement, 1996
- Sarah Gregory:
- In Self Defense, 1995 (Betsy Hayes)
- Public Trust, 1997 (Sharon Hays)
- The Best Defense, 1999 (Sharon Hays)
- Capitol Scandal, 1999 (Sharon Hays)
- Catherine Arnold:
- Due Process, 1996 (Karen Perry-Mondori)
- Imperfect Justice, 1997 (Karen Perry-Mondori)
- Wrongful Death, 1999 (Karen Perry-Mondori)
- Class Action, 1996 (Karen Perry-Mondori)
- David Baldacci, a lawyer-turned-novelist:
- Absolute Power, 1996
- Total Control, 1997 Reprint
- The Simple Truth, 1999
- Murder of a Dead Man by Katherine John, 1997 Reprint
- The Last Client of Luis Montez by Manuel Ramos, 1996
- Jean Hanff Korelitz
- A Jury of Her Peers, 1997
- Sabbathday River, 1999
- Marianne Wesson
- Render Up the Body, 1997
- A Suggestion of Death
- Conflict of Interest by Terry Lewis, 1997
- The Defense by Dudley W. Buffa, 1997
- The Long Rain by Peter Gadol, 1997
- Ann Perry has many books on our historical
- One is also a legal mystery: The Silent Cry, 1997
- Rosemary Aubert's books featuring Judge Ellis Portal
- Free Reign (1997)
- and its sequel The Feast of St Stephen (1999), relate to both lawyers and homelessness.
- Dealing with other social issues: The Best Defense by Ellis Cose, 1998
- Penny Mickelbury's series character Carole Ann Gibson is a lawyer:
- One Must Wait, 1998
- Where to Choose, 1999
- The Step Between, 2000
- Barry Siegel:
- Perfect Witness, 1998
- Actual Innocence, 1999
- In the Cold Light of Day by Ann Williams, 1998.
- The Expert by Lee Gruenfeld, 1998
- Chain of Custody by Harry Levy, 1998
- Perjury by Stan Latreille, 1998
- The Stalking of Sheilah Quinn by Jeremiah F. Healy, 1998
- Terri Blackstock takes the moral stand of many legal mysteries one step farther; her books are billed as "Christian Mystery".
- Justifiable Means, 1998
- Shadow of Doubt, 1998
- Shadow of Doubt, 1998
- Ulterior Motives, 1998
- The Caverel Claim by Peter Rawlinson, 1998
- John A. Miller seems to intend a series: hios fist book is billed as " A Claude McCutcheon Novel"
- Causes of Action, 1999
- The Farewell Principle by Steven J. Weiss, 1999
- Jeffrey Ashford
- A Web of Circumstances, 1999
- Mean Time, edited by Jerry Sykes, 1999, is an anthology.
- Guilty Addictions by Garrett Wilson, 1999, is billed as "A Political Mystery"
- The Holding Company by David Crump, 2000
- Fault Lines by Natasha Cooper, 2000
Mystery-B member Gretchen Springer says:
One of my favorite mystery series is about English Barrister Anthony Maitland by Sara Woods. There are 48 books in this series. If you haven't tried them, please do.
I have been told that Carolyn Wheat's female lawyer Cass Jameson series is good also.
Gretchen also contributed the following list:
Matthew Bernhardt's Ben Kincaid: first novel in series
PRIMARY JUSTICE (1991); there are 7 more.
E. X. Giroux has an English barrister as the main character, Robert Forsythe. First novel:
A DEATH FOR ADONIS (1984); there are 9 more.
J. P Hailey's Steve Winslow:
BAXTER TRUST (1988) and 4 more.
Paul Levine's Luke Lassiter series:
TO SPEAK FOR THE DEAD (1990), 6 more.
Ed McBain's Matthew Hope:
GOLDILOCKS (1978), 11 more.
Ralph McInerny's Andrew Broom mysteries:
CAUSE AND EFFECT (1987), 2 more.
D.R. Meredith's Lloyd Brarson:
MURDER BY IMPULSE (1988), 4 more.
Margaret Millar's Tom Aragon:
ASK FOR ME TOMORROW (1976), 2 more.
Michael Nava's Henry Rios:
THE LITTLE DEATH (1986), 5 more.
Perri O'Shaughnessy's The Nina Reilly(?) Cases:
MOTION TO SUPPRESS (1995), 3 more.
Barbara Parker's Gail Conner:
SUSPICION OF INNOCENCE (1994), 1 more.
Carroll Lachnit's Hannah Barlow, ex-cop/law student/lawyer:
MURDER IN BRIEF (1995), A BLESSED DEATH (1996).