cover image The Local: A Legal Thriller

The Local: A Legal Thriller

Joey Hartstone. Doubleday, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-54781-9

James Euchre, the narrator of film and TV writer Hartstone’s impressive debut, has built a successful career as a patent lawyer in Marshall, Tex., which has become the country’s leading jurisdiction for intellectual property litigation under the leadership of federal judge Gerald Gardner. When Gardner, Euchre’s mentor, is fatally stabbed after a holiday party, the prime suspect is Amir Zawar, a wealthy tech entrepreneur whom Euchre was defending against a claim of copyright infringement before Gardner. After the judge denied Zawar’s motion to dismiss the case, the irate Zawar cursed him out and threatened his life. Despite Euchre’s lack of experience in criminal defense and close relationship with the murdered man, he’s brought onboard as local counsel in the hopes that he’ll be more relatable for the jury. Euchre and his colleagues pursue a two-track defense, poking holes in the prosecution’s case to establish reasonable doubt while also investigating independently to identify a credible alternate suspect. The surprising twists are rendered plausible by Hartstone’s mastery of conveying detailed trial strategies. Scott Turow readers should take a look. Agent: Rachael Dillon Fried, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (June)