cover image The Verdict

The Verdict

Nick Stone. Pegasus Crime (Norton, dist.), $25.95 (512p) ISBN 978-1-60598-923-5

This propulsive legal thriller from Thriller Award–winner Stone (Mr. Clarinet) centers on the arrest and impending trial—seemingly a certain prosecutorial slam dunk—of multimillionaire hedge funder Vernon James, a poor West Indian immigrant’s son, for the murder of the young blond whose strangled body is found in his luxury suite at the London hotel where only hours earlier he accepted an award from the Hoffmann Trust, a liberal umbrella organization, as “Ethical Person of the Year.” James’s predicament should come as catnip to Terry Flynt—at 38 hanging on by his fingernails to a job as a lowly legal clerk—who blames James, his former childhood best friend, for getting him booted out of Cambridge and starting him on the downward spiral of booze and depression that nearly destroyed his life. But, as Flynt is stunned to discover when he’s tapped to work on the defense team, his feelings are significantly more complicated, especially once the evidence he starts to uncover suggests that James might be innocent. Though not all the plot strands tie up as tightly as one might wish, the Machiavellian plotting, Old Bailey fireworks, and almost Dickensian richness of character and setting make this a standout. Agent: Jane Gregory, Jane Gregory Literary Agency (U.K.). (Dec.)