cover image Presumed Guilty

Presumed Guilty

Alexandra Shapiro. New Degree, $18.99 trade paper (278p) ISBN 978-1-63730-640-6

Criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Shapiro makes her debut with a thought-provoking legal thriller. In 2012, Emma Simpson is juggling her responsibilities as a wife and mother with her high-pressure job on Wall Street as the manager of the New York office of a hedge fund. That work-life balance becomes more difficult after she is targeted by the ambitious and publicity-hungry U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Peter Weisman. Weisman’s investigative team believes, based on little evidence, that Simpson profited from insider trading to the tune of millions of dollars and orchestrated her staff’s destruction of relevant records after learning of a subpoena. The feds pursue a multiyear inquiry, ultimately charging her with obstruction of justice and witness tampering. Despite no proof that Simpson had the requisite corrupt intent to sustain the charges, the prosecutors push ahead, setting up a dramatic trial. Shapiro endows all her characters with depth in the service of an all too plausible plot, and her courtroom scenes perfectly capture the thrust-and-parry exchanges of opposing counsel. Scott Turow fans will hope for more from Shapiro. (Self-published)