By the author of the non-fiction title Small Town D. A (Dutton, 1954), this transfers its technicalities to a fiction treatment of a murder and its trial, locating these doings on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where a long experienced prosecuting D.A. gets his first criminal defense experience. Paul Biegler, now in private law practice in Iron Cliff County, gives a first person report -- how he came to defend Lt. Manion after Manion had shot and killed Barney Quill who had raped and beaten Laura, Manion's wife; how the plea of insanity was arrived at and how Biegler planned his strategy against the current D.A. Lodwick; how he acquired the erratic Parnell McCarthy as a silent partner to check and double check legal issues; how pretrial details were taken care of. Then to the courtroom and the surprise assistant Lodwick produces -- tricky Claud Dancer of the State Attorney General's office; the surprise -- and unexpected pleasure -- of an unfamiliar judge who is not only learned but humane and touched with humor; the horn-locking of defense and prosecution; the touch and go as one, then the other, leads up to, pounds home, insinuates or makes clear, his points -- and on to the climax of the jury's decision. The fine -- and some not so fine -- points of legal procedures annotate this overlong brief, put it in the fancier's rather than the literary classification.