I’ve found myself reading a lot of courtroom dramas/crimes thrillers lately and the more I read the more I think they might be my new favourite genre. They’re certainly filling the Good Wife-shaped void in my life.
The latest title is Summary Justice* by John Fairfax, a fascinating exploration of human rights, rehabilitation and what happens to someone after they have served their time.
William Benson is currently defending a woman in a murder trial. What sets him apart from other people in a similar situation is that he has been convicted of a murder himself. Tess de Vere is determined to support him, having been part of the legal team which couldn’t prove his innocence 14 years ago. Not only does she want to help in his first big legal case, she’s also set on proving his innocence after all this time.
I’ve always found myself rooting for supporting characters and really warmed to Benson’s clerk, another convicted criminal, and the Tuesday Night Club, a group of men who have been in prison and meet regularly to talk about coping with life on the outside. I’ve never really considered what happens to someone who has been convicted, served their time and then has to come to terms with ‘normal’ life again. Except it will likely never be normal for them again, as is the case with Benson’s repeat offender cellmate, Needles, one of the highlights of the story.
The trick to writing a great courtroom drama is to keep teasing information but always hold something back. It keeps you hooked and the anticipation is tense but if the ending lets you down then everything that came before it means nothing. Fortunately Fairfax keeps you lingering until the very end – and it works, even when everything isn’t wrapped up with a pretty little bow. Although some might find it frustrating, I actually quite like it when everything isn’t completely resolved. I’d definitely be interested in reading any future titles featuring William and Tess.
Summary Justice is released on 2 March. If you’re looking for a tense courtroom drama, go order a copy.
* I received a review copy of this title but all opinions are my own