I've always been a fan of John Grisham's legal thrillers, but I was a bit disappointed in the last one that I read, Gray Mountain, which I thought was a bit preachy with characters that weren't all that interesting. This book is, to my mind at least, a lot more fun, and I devoured it in a couple of sessions.
The protagonist is a lawyer named Sebastian Rudd who works out of a bulletproof van after his last "real" office was firebombed. He has one employee, a bodyguard and general assistant, who drives him from appointment to appointment and who attempts to protect him from the large numbers of people on both sides of the law who would like to do him harm. He has an ex-wife to whom he was briefly married before she left him for her gay lover. But the two did manage to conceive a son that Rudd gets to see for a few hours a month, and one of his principal legal challenges is to fend off his vindictive ex-wife who would prefer that Rudd not get to see their son at all. He is also invested in a young cage fighter who appears to have a very bright future.
The cops and prosecutors hate Rudd because he usually defends the scum of the earth. For example, as the book opens, he's defending a tattooed kid with multiple piercings and a very low IQ, who's been accused of the brutal murder of two little girls. There's precious little evidence to actually link the kid to the crime, but the cops and the prosecutors are determined to railroad him to a death sentence and they've convinced practically everyone in town that the kid is guilty.
In another case, Rudd is defending a brutal killer who has already been convicted and is on death row, and in consequence he's not a very popular guy with the general public either. Truth to tell, the argument that in America everyone deserves a fair trial and legal representation is generally lost on a large segment of the public who assume that the police would never arrest the wrong person and that the accused parties should just be strung from the nearest tree ASAP, constitutional niceties be damned.
Unlike a lot of legal thrillers that focus on a single case throughout, this book follows Rudd from one case to another and the cases bleed into each other as they would in the real world. I found Rudd to be a fascinating character, flaws and all, and I loved watching him work in and out of court. The cases themselves were very interesting and I really hope that Grisham has another Sebastian Rudd novel in his future.