cover image A Jury of Her Peers

A Jury of Her Peers

Jean Hanff Korelitz. Crown Publishing Group (NY), $24 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-517-70061-7

This fast-moving legal thriller, an accomplished first novel, follows New York City Legal Aid lawyer Sybylla Muldoon as she prepares to defend a once-gentle homeless man named Trent who has been arrested for the brutal stabbing of an Upper East Side schoolgirl. Initially, Trent manifests classic signs of schizophrenia, but he soon becomes coherent and, while intimating a tale of abduction, refuses to speak more fully until his trial. As Koreliltz traces Sybylla's approach to this high-profile case, she reveals the day-to-day workings of modern justice as played out in New York City's crowded courtrooms at 100 Centre Street. Utterly commited to her clients, Sybylla, a postfeminist Nancy Drew, exhibits a thinking woman's appeal that is heightened by both her difficult relationship with her father, a noted right-leaning jurist who may soon become a Supreme Court nominee, and a developing romantic interest. Although the plot, featuring murder, conspiracy, politics and the perversion of justice, moves into Robin Cook territory for a time, Korelitz's convincing characterization, vigorous prose and rapid-fire pacing deliver thoughtful entertainment along with the promised thrills. (Apr.)