A tightly plotted, fast-paced legal thriller in which lies may serve justice better than the truth.
Defense attorney Aaron Littman should have known better. The chairman of a prominent New York law firm is a married man who once carried on a secret affair with a married federal judge. Unfortunately, someone knows. Rumor has it that Judge Faith Nichols may be in line for a Supreme Court nomination so long as the trial she's currently presiding over results in the conviction of the Russian “terrorist and murderer” Nicolai Garkov. The defendant has waived a jury trial, so his fate will be determined by Judge Nichols alone. Then Littman receives an offer of $100,000 to represent Garkov, who is widely considered to be guilty. Absolutely not, Littman replies, until Garkov blackmails him over the affair. And then the nasty surprises begin. Littman himself is falsely accused of murder. How can he defend himself without destroying his career and his marriage? You have to believe me is a refrain Littman frequently hears from his clients, and now he desperately wants the court and his wife to believe him. And then a trusted colleague reminds him that “[t]rials aren’t about the truth. They’re about winning.” That’s a good thing in this case, because the truth is damning, and lies may be the only way to an acquittal. The story moves along at a brisk clip, with a main character who's sympathetic despite his flaws. Maybe Littman will lose his wife and daughters. Maybe he'll spend the rest of his life in federal prison. Given the evidence that piles up against him, it’s hard to see how he escapes a guilty verdict. The ending is startling but feels contrived, the only blip in a well-crafted story.
A worthy courtroom yarn that fans of John Grisham and Scott Turow will enjoy.