10 Best Courtroom Drama Books

Courtroom Drama
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The recent surge of public interest in courtroom dramas has sent us on a mission to dust off the most shocking court cases in fiction. So if you are looking to immerse yourself in the world of legal jousting, then look no further. From legal thrillers to courtroom mysteries, you can fully expect a melange of secrets, intrigue and scandalous revelations that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page. 

Anatomy of A Murder by Robert Traver

IMage credit: St Martins Press

“A woman is raped at the gates of her neighborhood, but her cries for help register too late. By the time her husband, Lieutenant Frederic Manion of the US Army, realizes what has transpired, the rapist has fled for the safety of the local bar…a bar which he owns. Undeterred, the Lieutenant enters the bar, calmly empties his Luger pistol into the man’s chest, and leaves to deliver himself into the hands of the closest deputy-sheriff.

Paul Biegler is a former prosecuting attorney with congressional ambitions and a struggling practice. While Biegler is a potent lawyer, a more bombastic rival in town attracts most of the criminal defense work. A call from Manion seems like a dread godsend: while a victory could establish and spread his reputation, a defeat might make him a laughingstock.This seems like a simple case: a decorated war hero killed the man who raped his wife. But it isn’t enough that a jury might sympathize with Manion morally: how can he be defended legally?” – Stephen

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The Blotting Book by E. F. Benson

IMage Credit; The Floating Press

“Dreams, the long shadow of a crime disrupt the life of a young man, the heir of some fortune whom the forces of justice and society snatch up, toss around, and expose to truths he’s been shuddering from in his dreams. Part murder mystery, part psychological trauma; all mingled with a slice of genteel English life of the time come together in this story where the humble blotting book plays such an innocuous, yet significant role, becoming an instrument of both lies and truth. Some may find the pacing of this book slow, the events not visceral enough, but I was drawn into the picture painted in words and the style created of quiet, polite everyday life disturbed by crime, the emotions provoked by it, and the reaction of the general public to it.”-K.S. Trenten

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The Seeker by S. G. MacLean

IMage Credit; Quercus Publishing

London, 1654. Oliver Cromwell is at the height of his power and has declared himself Lord Protector. Yet he has many enemies, at home and abroad.

London is a teeming warren of spies and merchants, priests and soldiers, exiles and assassins. One of the web’s most fearsome spiders is Damian Seeker, agent of the Lord Protector. No one knows where Seeker comes from, who his family is, or even his real name. All that is known of him for certain is that he is utterly loyal to Cromwell, and that nothing can be long hidden from him.

In the city, coffee houses are springing up, fashionable places where men may meet to plot and gossip. Suddenly they are ringing with news of a murder. John Winter, hero of Cromwell’s all-powerful army, is dead, and the lawyer, Elias Ellingworth, found standing over the bleeding body, clutching a knife.

Yet despite the damning evidence, Seeker is not convinced of Ellingworth’s guilt. He will stop at nothing to bring the killer to justice: and Seeker knows better than any man where to search.

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Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

IMage Credit: Orion

Murder wasn’t the hard part. It was just the start of the game…

Joshua Kane has been preparing for this moment his whole life. He’s done it before. But this is the big one. This is the murder trial of the century. And Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house. But there’s someone on his tail. Someone who suspects that the killer isn’t the man on trial. Kane knows time is running out – he just needs to get to the conviction without being discovered.

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To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

IMage Credit: Warner Books

Published in 1960, this quintessentially American novel instantly shot to fame winning the Pulitzer Prize and inspiring a myriad of film and stage adaptations. Set in 1930s Alabama, Harper Lee’s iconic story explores the racial tensions in the midst of the court hearing. Insightful and compassionate, the novel portrays the moral values of Atticus Finch and his family that stretch far beyond the colour of the skin.The only defence attorney willing to represent a black man accused of raping a white woman, Atticus battles hostility and inequality during the trial. This poignant tale of innocence, cruelty and hatred delights the readers with the description of human courage in pursuing justice and overcoming the prejudice in 20th century America.

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Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare

IMage Credit: Untitled Design

Set in the dead of winter, William Shakespeare’s tragic play focuses on middle-aged Leontes, who, being consumed with jealousy, wrongly accuses his wife of adultery, calling for an open trial of Hermione. The consequences of his actions are tragic, bringing loss, grief, family conflict and exile. The reconciliation between Hermione and Leontes is considered one of the most moving final scenes ever created by Shakespeare.

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The Verdict by Nick Stone

IMage Credit: Pegasus Books

“Terry and Vernon James have a history. Terry, a recovering alcoholic, was kicked out of Cambridge, an event which haunts him and for which he blames James. Many years later, after a long night in a hotel where James was collecting an ethics award, James is accused of murdering a woman in his hotel suite. There is a lot of action in the hours leading up to the murder and a lot of action after. Terry, an underachiever, is a recent hire as a clerk in a prestigious law firm. For no apparent reason, he is loathed by his co-workers but championed by his boss, Janet. In what he believes is a fluke, Terry is assigned to assist Janet as she tries to defend James…” – Drwo

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Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie

IMage Credit: St Martins Paperbacks

Revered for her timeless collection of detective stories, the Queen of Crime invites the readers to join the jury to crack a mind-boggling case in a courtroom drama The Witness for The Prosecution. For Leonard Vole- an heir to the great fortune, who is accused of murdering his benefactor- the trial is doomed from the start. Despite his plea of innocence, the overwhelming evidence against Leonard coupled with his struggling solicitor crush all his hopes for acquittal. The defence hits rock bottom, when his loving wife’s testimony threatens to put a noose around his neck. Balancing on a knife edge between life and death, the defendant will have no choice, but to pull a rabbit out of a hat…and fast. Enriched with sensational twists and exhilarating conclusions, this gripping tale of mystery ticks all the right boxes for Christie aficionados.

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John Jago’s Ghost by Wilkie Collins

Image Credit: Azonru

“Based on a real early 19th-century case, this novella is set in the US, and the solution to the mysterious disappearance of John Jago is fairly easily discerned from the title. The narrator-protagonist is a young lawyer, on a foreign trip to cure his nervous complaint and he encounters no supernatural occurrences or Gothic contrivances, other than a couple of moonlit gardens. Instead, there is a steady buildup of characterization for four or five main players, including the aforementioned John Jago, as well as one of Collins’ trademark Young Women Who Know Their Own Mind.

There’s a disappearance, the arrest of two overwhelmingly obvious suspects, several stages of trial, a couple of confessions with coercion in question, a verdict, a newspaper advertisement and a coincidental discovery, all overlaid with a romantic sub-plot, adding a new dimension to a story.” – Surrey Mum

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Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Image Credit: Bloomsbury Publishing

“Set in 1954, Snow Falling on Cedars is an atmospheric novel with a strong sense of place. It is set on San Piedro, a fictional island off the coast of the state of Washington. As the story opens, Kabuo Miyamoto is on trial for the murder of Carl Heine, a fellow fisherman. Miyamoto is alleged to have resorted to murder in order to settle a land dispute that dates back to WWII. The story gradually reveals the backstories of the characters, in non-linear segments, including many violent and traumatic episodes experienced during WWII, which have had a lasting psychological impact. 

It is an interesting blend of mystery, courtroom drama, history, and first love. Rather than focus on a blow-by-blow question and answer of witnesses during the trial, the author artfully employs narrative sequences and flashbacks to provide the essence of the testimony. It explores the difficulties several characters experience in moving on from the past to be able to live in the present.”-Joy

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Stella is a Marketing Consultant and has been writing content for Full Text Archive since 2015. When she is not writing, she is meticulously planning our social and e-mail campaigns. Stella holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Russian Literature, which has provided a broad foundation from which she continues to explore the written world.

She spends her free time reading, visiting old castles and discovering new coffee shops. She can be reached at stella

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