Fans of Patterson's serial-killer hunting detective, Alex Cross, expecting another cat-and-mouse thriller based on this book's title, will find Cross's appearance limited to a two-page preface in which the fictional character explains why he's written a book called Trial. Abraham Cross, a relative who lived in Eudora, Miss., at the beginning of the 20th century, helps liberal lawyer Ben Corbett to expose the truth about a wave of lynchings near that town, an assignment undertaken at the request of Corbett's friend, President Theodore Roosevelt. When Corbett arrives in Eudora, where he was born and raised, he receives a frosty reception from many unhappy with his record of representing African-Americans accused of murder, including a cold shoulder from his father, a judge. Soon, Corbett finds evidence that racism is alive and well, and that brutal murders of blacks, often for the most trivial of reasons, are endemic. Some may be disappointed that Abraham plays a relatively minor role, given the jacket line that ""the Cross family had more than one hero.""