I love courtroom dramas but haven’t found a lot of them lately. I was thrilled to find this one on NetGalley:
A Matter of Life and Death–a innocent man is framed but expertly. Robin’s problem is how to prove it
by Philip Margolin
In A Matter of Life and Death (Minotaur Books 2021), fourth in the Robin Lockwood series, Robin Lockwood, former MMA fighter of repute, now puts her skills to defending clients. In this case, it’s Joe Lattimore, a homeless, unemployed, down-on-his-luck fighter who is so desperate for money to support his wife and infant child that he falls for a scheme he knows he shouldn’t. The result is he’s framed for the murder of the wife of a prominent but sketchy judge. The real killer beat her to death exactly as a fighter of Joe’s skills would and then planted evidence against him that is hard to dispute. The optics of Joe’s guilt are overwhelming but Robin is suspicious enough to take the case. It’s too easy, too pat, too airtight, as though someone has planned it.
Besides being a well-drawn courtroom drama tale written by a master of this genre,, what really sets it apart is the procedural elements included. Here are some examples:
“In addition to an unlimited number of challenges for cause, each side in an Oregon death penalty trial was allowed fifteen peremptory challenges. These challenges could be made for any reason and were used when an attorney could not show cause but did not want a juror sitting on his client’s case.”
“A defendant had no obligation to prove he was innocent. That meant that the defense was never required to put on evidence. If the state’s case was shaky but Joe made a bad impression when he testified, he could erase any reasonable doubts harbored by a juror.”
“In 1972, in Furman v. Georgia, the United States Supreme Court struck down all of the existing death penalty schemes in the United States. In the course of writing the opinion, the court established the principle that “death is different.”
It is a joy to read a story that held my attention from start to finish. If you’re hungry for this genre of story, you won’t regret the time you spend reading this book.
If you like playing while reading, the publisher has this fun game for you:
BTW–You can create this puzzle with your book at Jigsaw Planet (though it requires a login).
More Courtroom Dramas
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021.