A fast-moving British legal thriller filled with tension and surprises.
Businessman Vernon James receives an Ethical Person of the Year award, then takes a beautiful woman to his hotel room. Instead of having sex with him, though, the woman beats him up. Badly. Later, legal clerk Terry Flynt hears that his firm is representing James, who has just been arrested for murder. James certainly looks guilty; maids find the naked corpse of a different woman on his hotel bed, and incriminating bodily fluids trace back to him. The accused admits he loves sadistic sex, choking compliant women until they signal they’ve had enough. The defense team’s Christine Devereaux tells him “The evidence says you’re guilty. You don’t have an alibi,” but the firm is determined to win his acquittal. Flynt secretly despises his former best friend James for personal reasons but must now help prepare the client’s defense. Flynt is unsure about his future in the field of law, so he goes all out to prove himself. The more information he digs up, the worse the case looks. James’ father had been found murdered years before, and now Flynt wonders if James committed that unsolved crime while Flynt himself provided an alibi for him, “perverting the course of justice.” So no one feels sorry at all for the defendant; despite his “ethics” award, he is an all-around bad person who is on trial for one specific act. But Flynt’s aggressive research might end his own nascent career or even get him killed. No reader (one hopes) will root for the defendant. But they’ll fret over Flynt, the underdog clerk who has so much to prove.
The suspense never lets up in this terrific courtroom drama. Fans of John Grisham will love it. It’s definitely movie material.