Unmissable 99p deals on bestselling crime fictionExplore deals

Unmissable 99p deals on bestselling crime fiction Explore deals

15 must-read legal thriller books

Truth and lies play out in courtrooms where the stakes are high, the twists and turns are unpredictable, the characters are at their most vulnerable and so much depends on the verdict. So what better treat than to sit down with a legal drama and get lost in the pursuit of truth and justice?

From the innocent to the guilty, the rightly to the wrongly accused, here’s our pick of the most thrilling in the genre…

The best courtroom drama books:

No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister

No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister

Martha and Becky are sisters who love and trust each other… At least they thought they did. But when the unthinkable happens and Martha’s child dies in the care of Becky, the siblings are thrust into a court case to uncover the truth of what really happened to the baby. Exploring themes of parenthood, families, care and culpability, this story is as tense and suspenseful as it is moving. A truly original thriller.

The Suspect by Rob Rinder

The Suspect by Rob Rinder

The Suspect is the latest legal thriller from the brilliant mind of barrister and broadcaster Rob Rinder. When a beloved TV presenter dies live on air, all evidence points to celebrity chef Sebastian Brooks. But junior barrister Adam Greene is about to discover he’s not the only suspect… Rinder’s first novel, The Trial, was one of the most popular crime books of 2023, and his new book is equally gripping and fast-paced.

You Don't Know Me by Imran Mahmood

You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood

Barrister and author Imran Mahmood’s debut novel puts the reader in the jury box at a trial where a young, black man from South London is accused of murder. But at the denouement of the trial, having sacked his QC, the accused embarks on a radical closing speech which calls into question four weeks of evidence. Adapted by the BBC, chosen for the Radio 2 book club and as one of the Telegraph’s Best Crime Novels of the Year, this is one of the most original thrillers of recent times and deserves to be devoured.

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his wife in the celebrity murder trial of the century and con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn is defending. But as the trial begins a series of sinister events leaves Eddie doubting they’ve got the right man. What if the killer isn’t on trial? What if the killer is on the jury? Fans of John Grisham and Lee Child will devour this page turner – watch out for the clever hook and the ingenious climax.

Prima Facie by Suzie Miller

Prima Facie by Suzie Miller

The award-winning play starring Jodie Comer has now been transformed into a novel by its playwright Suzie Miller. Prima Facie follows Tessa, a criminal defence barrister who loves her job and is known for getting her clients acquitted. But when an encounter with a colleague finds her on the other side of the courtroom, Tessa begins to realise the system doesn’t truly protect victims, and questions everything she once believed in. This is a thought-provoking read that will stay with you.

The Collini Case by Ferdinand von Schirach

The Collini Case by Ferdinand von Schirach

A murder. A murderer. But no motive. When Fabrizio Collini brutally murders a prominent manufacturer in a Berlin hotel and refuses to give his motive it’s left to his lawyer, Casper Leinen, to uncover the terrible truth. But how easy is it to deal with the past? Picked by the Sunday Times as one of the 50 best crime and thriller books, this is a fascinating and insightful thriller full of political and historical explosiveness.

Sycamore Row by John Grisham

Sycamore Row by John Grisham

Seth Hubbard is a wealthy white man who, just before his death, rewrites his will to leave 90% of his estate to his Black housemaid. His disinherited relatives contest the will and Jake Brigance – the attorney for the estate – is brought in to search for answers to the questions left by Hubbard’s death. This is one of John Grisham’s most gripping books, exploring complex themes while keeping you guessing.

The No. 1 Lawyer by James Patterson

The No.1 Lawyer by James Patterson

Criminal defence lawyer Stafford Lee Penney is one of the best in the business. But his reputation is destroyed when his wife is found dead – and he is the prime suspect. Now, defending himself at trial, Penney has a big task on his hands: to prove his innocence, find the killer and get justice for his wife. The No. 1 Lawyer is packed with the action and plot twists you’d expect from James Patterson. We also recommend his new legal thriller Lion & Lamb, which is out now.

Your Word or Mine by Lia Middleton

Your Word or Mine by Lia Middleton

When rising legal star Ava Knight hears hotel magnate Michael Osborne was stabbed in cold blood by a troubled fifteen-year-old girl, she doesn’t buy the narrative. Because eighteen years ago, Michael brutally assaulted her – but was then acquitted by a jury. Back then, it was Michael’s word against Ava’s. Now another girl’s future hangs in the balance, how far will Ava go to be believed? Delving into themes of justice, memory, and truth, this twisty legal thriller will leave you breathless.

Until Proven Innocent by Nicola Williams

Until Proven Innocent by Nicola Williams

Lee Mitchell is a young barrister from a working-class Caribbean background: in the cut-throat environment of the courtroom, everything is stacked against her. Against her will, Lee is strong-armed into defending the indefensible, and finds herself at the centre of the turmoil as lies, anger, and mistrust spiral out of control.

Exploring the complex relationship between race, class and authority, Until Proven Innocent is a propulsive and authentic read penned by a Crown Court Judge.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

A couple’s world comes crashing down around them when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. With his wife convinced of his innocence and the barrister for the prosecution convinced of his guilt, this is a complex and timely story about marriage, masculinity, power and privilege. A tour de force in the genre that’s well worth a read.

The Crossing by Michael Connelly

The Crossing by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch left the LAPD in less than ideal circumstances. Now maverick defence lawyer Mickey Haller has asked him to cross over ‘to the dark side’ and help on a case for the defence. This is Bosch as we’ve never seen him before, in danger of betraying the principles he’s built his whole career on. With horrifying villains, dark murders and a court scene pivoting on captivating minutiae, you’ll find it hard to find a police procedural more engrossing.

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

Yvonne Carmichael has a seemingly perfect life. That is until she meets a stranger in the Houses of Parliament and begins an affair that will tear her perfect life apart. Adapted by the BBC, this psychological thriller is an insightful examination of the choices we make and the values we live by. It’s a compelling, cautionary tale exploring truth and judgement and the ability each of us have to deceive ourselves with our own version of the truth.

The Blotting Book by E F Benson

The Blotting Book by E F Benson

Morris Assheton, a young man in love, finds himself in deep water after his threats to a man smearing his good name are called into question when the slanderer is murdered. Morris is arrested and his innocence is tried in a courtroom battle. Written in 1908, this is one of the earliest examples of the genre that will transport you to a genteel era in language, tone and atmosphere. A vintage murder mystery well worth getting whisked away with.

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

The nine million-copy bestseller tells the story of Rožat ‘Rusty’ Sabich, a prosecuting lawyer, charged with the brutal murder of his co-worker, Carolyn Polhemus, and his long and bitter court battle. Is he really innocent until proven guilty? One of the greatest genre novels of the 1980s, made even more popular by the film starring Harrison Ford. Clever, unpredictable and a real page turner.

Have we missed any of the best courtroom dramas? Let us know in the comments below!

8 Comments

    am looking for a book which I read so e 40 years back.
    The book is based on a courtroom drama where a doctor is charged with murders and in the end is found not guilty. However the author completes the book saying that the doctor was found guilty on a later trial that has not been included in the book.
    It was based on a true incident.

    Racquel, are you thinking of Rumpole of the Bailey by John Mortimer? Hilarious! (American trial lawyer here.)

    I used to love the short stories about an English Barrister whom nobody liked and his tales of the High Court. He did not get along at all with his wife. Does anybody know which stories I am talking about?

    I highly recommend all three books by John Fairfax with an unusual protagonist, criminal barrister and convicted murderer William Benson. Gripping stories!

    Certainly got plenty of potential reads in that list. Thank you.

    Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. Unusual and gripping tale including racism in a remote US island in WW2

    Read and loved both Thirteen and Anatomy of A Scandal. Thanks for the other recommendations!

    The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connolly a highly entertaining read and a made into a great film starring Matthew Mcconaughey

Join the discussion

Please note: Moderation is enabled and may delay your comment being posted. There is no need to resubmit your comment. By posting a comment you are agreeing to the website Terms of Use.