Discover the Drama of the Courtroom in These 20 Fabulous Novels Celebrating National Crime Reading Month.

Here at LoveReading we are passionate about celebrating and sharing our love for books. The Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) obviously agree as they have declared June as National Crime Reading Month. I have sat on the CWA Gold Award judging panel for the last three years, and have been awed at the number of truly fabulous crime novels that I have read. Back in 2021, House of Correction by husband and wife team Nicci French won a Highly Commended in the Gold Award, and the courtroom scene ensured a tense and provocative overall read. So we decided to have a look at other novels that feature the courtroom, we know that some authors excel in this particular field, but have just chosen one of their novels to share here. You can feel almost guilty as you watch the judge and jury while the convicted stands accused and the legal teams commence battle. This particular setting creates an intensity that is hard to beat. So we advise you settle in, and ready yourself for some spectacular reads.

House of Correction

House of Correction

Author: Nicci French Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/05/2021

LONGLISTED FOR THE CWA GOLD DAGGER AWARD She's a murderer. Everyone knows she killed Stuart Rees - why else would his dead body be found in her shed? So now Tabitha is in prison, awaiting trial. Coming back to the remote coastal village where she grew up was a mistake. She didn't fit in then, and she doesn't fit in now. That day is such a blur, she can't remember clearly what happened. There is something she is missing, something important... She only knows one thing. She is not capable of murder. And the only one she can trust to help her out of this situation is herself. So she must fight. Against the odds. For her life. Beautifully written about prejudice, loneliness and fighting spirit, this new book by Nicci French is shocking, twisty and utterly compelling.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
You Don't Know Me

You Don't Know Me

Author: Imran Mahmood Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/05/2017

May 2017 eBook of the Month. At once a captivating courtroom drama, and a poignant personal story that explores social disadvantage and London gang culture from the unique perspective of an unforgettable narrator. An unnamed 21-year-old man is on trial for murder. He’s sacked his lawyer and is in the dock giving his own closing speech to the jury. “Bruv, I need to start telling it like it is,” he asserts, which is exactly what he does. The defendant’s speech is direct, gritty and heartfelt, and takes many “bus diversions” in order to give the jury the full contextual background he believes they need to come to the right verdict. His voice is charismatic and compelling, especially as he describes his tough childhood, and his love for girlfriend Kira, for whom he would do anything. “I don't remember choosing any of it,” the defendant remarks as he nears the end of his speech, and a lack of choice, and the spiraling, entrapping nature of the gangland world are at the heart of this incisively hard-hitting novel. We hear how kids as young as ten come to carry guns and drugs for gang leaders, how teenage girls are sold into a life of addiction and prostitution. And, through the narrator’s decision to tell it exactly as it is, we’re asked to consider the repercussions of a system in which the accused are often tried by juries who are nothing like themselves, and know nothing of their worlds. Indeed, the narrator concludes by asking the jury to “try and be me” when they deliver their verdict. This is crime fiction with conscience, and an utterly un-put-down-able debut that had me hooked from start to finish. ~ Joanne Owen

eBooks of the Month
Reputation

Reputation

Author: Sarah Vaughan Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

This powerful, provocative, intoxicating rush of a read hit me head on and ploughed through my thoughts. Mother, former teacher and now MP Emma Webster is used to the press and public judging her, when a man is found dead in her home it opens the floodgates. Trolling, bullying, the difficulties of being a woman and a powerful one at that, are examined while encased in a plot that accelerates into a thrilling story. Newspaper reports and social media comments lie in wait. The focus on different characters and their points of view ensures each nuanced layer splices to the next. Only Emma is written in the first person, I felt her emotional reaction and found myself positively aching for her. The characters are beautifully flawed, each giving you access yet creating a space to explore their personality and choices made. Sarah Vaughan allows you to see what’s coming, the what but not the how, letting you in while creating tension with the slicing edge of the story. Thoroughly provoking thoughts while being highly entertaining, Reputation is timely, convincing, and exhilarating read.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Summary Justice

Summary Justice

Author: John Fairfax Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/07/2017

The last time Tess de Vere saw William Benson she was a law student on work experience. He was a twenty-one year old, led from the dock of the Old Bailey to begin a life sentence for murder. He'd said he was innocent. She'd believed him. Sixteen years later Tess overhears a couple of hacks mocking a newcomer to the London Bar, a no-hoper with a murder conviction, running his own show from an old fishmonger's in Spitalfields. That night she walks back into Benson's life. The price of his rehabilitation - and access to the Bar - is an admission of guilt to the killing of Paul Harbeton, whose family have vowed revenge. He's an outcast. The government wants to shut him down and no solicitor will instruct him. But he's subsidised by a mystery benefactor and a desperate woman has turned to him for help: Sarah Collingstone, mother of a child with special needs, accused of slaying her wealthy lover. It's a hopeless case and the murder trial, Benson's first, starts in four days. The evidence is overwhelming but like Benson long ago, she swears she's innocent. Tess joins the defence team, determined to help Benson survive. But as Benson follows the twists and turns in the courtroom, Tess embarks upon a secret investigation of her own, determined to uncover the truth behind the death of Paul Harbeton on a lonely night in Soho. True to life, fast-paced and absolutely compelling, Summary Justice introduces a new series of courtroom dramas featuring two maverick lawyers driven to fight injustice at any cost.

Apple Tree Yard

Apple Tree Yard

Author: Louise Doughty Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/01/2017

A gripping psychological thriller. Yvonne Carmichael is a woman who prides herself on her ability to control her life and achieve what she wants. The tale builds alarmingly, beginning with an impulsive affair which sets in train a series of events that spiral beyond her control and look set to destroy everything. A terrifically well-written highly believable read, not at all what I was expecting. This novel has been adapted for a BBC television series starring Emma Watson and Ben Chaplin. Click below to view the trailer. Shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger - Thriller of the Year 2014.

eBooks of the Month
The Night Swim

The Night Swim

Author: Megan Goldin Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/01/2021

A powerful, provocative and thought-provoking mystery. Rachel’s next true-crime podcast season focuses on a live rape trial in a North Carolina coastal town, while en route she receives an anonymous plea to help solve an old case. At times a difficult and uncomfortable read due to the content, it deals with the subject of consent with consideration. Megan Goldin writes with sharp clarity, she covers the difficulties faced when bringing rape cases to court, in particular for the victim. She used to work as a journalist and has covered war zones, the credibility of her writing shines through here. The two time frames sit 25 years apart but cling to each other. There are enough hints and suggestions to have some idea of where the story is going, yet there is so much more to discover. I really am hoping there is more to come, could this be the start to a new series? Fiercely intense and incredibly readable, The Night Swim is a biting compelling read.

eBooks of the Month
The Pelican Brief

The Pelican Brief

Author: John Grisham Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/10/2010

Two Supreme Court Justices are dead, their murders unsolved. But one woman might have found the answer – if she can live to tell it. Darby Shaw is a brilliant New Orleans legal student with a sharp political mind. For her own amusement, she draws up a legal brief showing how the judges might have been murdered for political reasons, and shows it to her professor. He shows it to his friend, an FBI lawyer. Then the professor dies in a car bombing. And Darby realises that her brief, which pointed to a vast presidential conspiracy, might be right. Someone is intent on silencing Darby for good - somebody who will stop at nothing to preserve the secrets of the Pelican Brief...

Pleasantville

Pleasantville

Author: Attica Locke Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/04/2015

Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2016. 1996 election night in Pleasantville, a suburb of Houston built in 1949 as a community for “Negro families of means and class”, home now to many who have been involved in marches for greater equality.  The former police chief hopes to be the first black mayor but the District Attorney runs against him. Then a teenage girl disappears, the third, each found dead six days later.  This one is no exception.  A fellow is arrested and we follow his black lawyer, Jay’s involvement plus a host of strong characters.  Very atmospheric with a real feel for the area and its people, this is both a political thriller and a murder mystery full of twists and turns set against the mayoral election campaign and compensation that is expected from an oil company for pollution, something that features in Jay’s first appearance in Black Water Rising. Shortlisted for the Goldsboro Gold Dagger Award 2015.

eBooks of the Month
To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/06/2015

You may have read this but it certainly deserves another read.  It’s the sort of book that becomes more profound with each reading.  It is quite simply brilliant, a tale of prejudices and injustice in small town America which should be part of everyone’s collection. ~ Sarah Broadhurst Comparison: J D Salinger (Catcher in the Rye), William Golding (Lord of the Flies), Joseph Heller (Catch 22).

eBooks of the Month
This Mortal Boy

This Mortal Boy

Author: Fiona Kidman Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/07/2019

Albert Black, known as Paddy, and later as the “jukebox killer”, was the penultimate person to be hanged in New Zealand at the age of twenty-five. Paddy came to New Zealand from Ireland, a sparky young man seeking a new life in a new land. Then, after killing another young man during a fight, a weighted court case sees him sentenced to death for murder. The events that led to the fatal stabbing are told from the engrossing and varied viewpoints of multiple witnesses, both on the stand and in real time. The lives of the jurors are explored too, their backgrounds, what makes them tick, how they’re biased against, or in favour of, the accused regardless of evidence or fact, from the “He’s an Irishman. Taking our girls,” comment of Wayne the gas fitter, to the sympathetic butcher who points out that “if someone’s not like you, you don’t want to know”. The ethics of the death penalty are explored too. As one juror remarks, “I cannot believe we’ve earned the right to decide who should live and who should die”, as is political history, the social history of Irish migrants forging new lives as ten-quid Poms, and the personal plight of Paddy’s mother back home who starts a petition and writes to the New Zealand High Commissioner and the Queen. As the case progresses (with prejudice against outsiders deftly explored and powerfully prescient), the novel lays bare how some individuals stand firm in their convictions  while others crumble, and how anyone’s convictions might crumble when circumstances collude and collide. A love story unfolds too, which takes an unexpected and deeply poignant turn.   Author Fiona Kidman is a highly-regarded recipient of many literary awards and honours in her native New Zealand and this affecting novel more than showcases her exquisite talent.

A Time To Kill

A Time To Kill

Author: John Grisham Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/09/2013

THE MULTI-MILLION COPY BESTSELLER John Grisham's first and most shocking novel, adapted as a film starring Samuel L. Jackson and Matthew McConaughey When Carl Lee Hailey guns down the violent racists who raped his ten-year-old daughter, the people of the small town of Clanton, Mississippi see it as justice done, and call for his acquittal. But when extremists outside Clanton - including the KKK - hear that a black man has killed two white men, they invade the town, determined to destroy anything and anyone that opposes their sense of justice. A national media circus descends on Clanton. As tensions mount, Hailey hires the inexperienced Jake Brigance to defend him. It's the kind of case that could make a young lawyer's career. But it's also the kind of case that could get a young lawyer killed.

Small Great Things

Small Great Things

Author: Jodi Picoult Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/04/2017

Just incredible… this punchy, beautiful, readable story vibrates with a powerful energy. After Turk Bauer accuses nurse Ruth Jefferson of murdering his new born son, Kennedy McQuarrie defends Ruth in court. Each of the three main characters, in their own distinct and unique voice, tell us their story, we live side by side with them, and also delve into their past. This is a book that made me think, but also deep down in the centre of my innermost core it made me feel. Within a few pages I was crying, then in the next chapter I was burning with disbelief, a short while later still, I was reflecting, contemplating, questioning. This isn't about good and evil, it isn't as simple, or even as complicated as that, this is a book that shines a light on racism, on prejudice, and then invites you to examine your own thoughts and feelings. I was desperate to know the ending, and yet didn't want it to finish, and when I turned the last page I sat back and just felt myself float free. At the centre of ‘Small Great Things’ is an open, welcoming, loving heart that beats with a vibrant intensity, and it is quite simply, a must read. ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer

Author: Michael Connelly Format: Paperback (a Format) Release Date: 06/11/2014

Winner of the Best Novel at the Macavity Awards 2006 and the Shamus Awards 2006. He’s a well-known, bestselling American author of fast-paced crime but this one is a little out of the norm. It’s a fascinating insight into the workings of the American legal system, there are many such but this is very good. The devious, almost illegal, way the system can be manipulated is highly informative and enthralling. This title is also available as an Audiobook, in CD format.

eBooks of the Month
Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing

Author: Delia Owens Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/12/2019

Crossing genres in style, this just has to be one of my favourite novels of the year. Set in the marshlands of North Carolina, the majority of this story takes place in the 1950’s and 60’s. The prologue begins in 1969 with the body of Chase Andrews being found in the marsh. The first paragraph of the prologue introduces surprising beauty, the marsh simply sings, it settled into my mind and became a part of me. The central character is Kya, we meet her as a child, and the truth of her life is immediately apparent. As the novel moves backwards and forwards in time, Kya emerges as the Marsh Girl, and suspicion begins to hound her after the body is found. Author Delia Owens is a wildlife scientist who has worked in Africa and written non-fiction, this is her debut novel. Descriptions entered my mind in wafting movement, I fell in love with the marsh and the girl who lived there. Where the Crawdads Sing is truly touching, almost hauntingly beautiful, and opens a doorway to a different world. It has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book and a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.

Star Books
Presumed Innocent

Presumed Innocent

Author: Scott Turow Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/04/2010

Rusty Sabich is a prosecuting lawyer in Chicago who enters a nightmare world when Carolyn, a beautiful attorney with whom he has been having an affair, is found raped and strangled. He stands accused of the crime. This 'insider' book by a Chicago lawyer was one of the great novels of the 1980s, selling more than nine million copies, and was made into a famous film starring Harrison Ford. It's a supremely suspenseful and compelling courtroom drama about ambition, weakness, hypocrisy and American justice.

The Long Drop

The Long Drop

Author: Denise Mina Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/02/2018

Glasgow, 1957. It is a December night and William Watt is desperate. His family has been murdered and he needs to find out who killed them. He arrives at a bar to meet Peter Manuel, who claims he can get hold of the gun that was used. But Watt soon realises that this infamous criminal will not give up information easily. Inspired by true events, The Long Drop follows Watt and Manuel along back streets and into smoky pubs, and on to the courtroom where the murder trial takes place. Can Manuel really be trusted to tell the truth? And how far will Watt go to get what he wants?

Thirteen

Thirteen

Author: Steve Cavanagh Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/06/2018

'To your knowledge, is there anything that would preclude you from serving on this jury?' Murder wasn't the hard part. It was just the start of the game. Joshua Kane has been preparing for this moment his whole life. He's done it before. But this is the big one. This is the murder trial of the century. And Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house. But there's someone on his tail. Someone who suspects that the killer isn't the man on trial. Kane knows time is running out - he just needs to get to the conviction without being discovered.

No Further Questions

No Further Questions

Author: Gillian McAllister Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/10/2018

The police say she's guilty. She insists she's innocent. She's your sister. You love her. You trust her. But they say she killed the person you care about most.

Strong Poison

Strong Poison

Author: Dorothy L. Sayers Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/08/2016

Can Lord Peter Wimsey prove that Harriet Vane is not guilty of murder - or find the real poisoner in time to save her from the gallows? Impossible, it seems. The Crown's case is watertight. The police are adamant that the right person is on trial. The judge's summing-up is also clear. Harriet Vane is guilty of the killing her lover. And Harriet Vane shall hang. But the jury disagrees.

The Khan

The Khan

Author: Saima Mir Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/04/2021

Be twice as good as men and four times as good as white men. Jia Khan has always lived like this. Successful London lawyer Jia Khan is a long way from the grubby Northern streets she knew as a child, where her father, Akbar Khan, led the Pakistani community and ran the local organised crime syndicate. Often his Jirga rule - the old way - was violent and bloody, but it was always justice of a kind. Now, with her father murdered, Jia must return to take his place. The police have always relied on the Khan to maintain the fragile order of the streets. But a bloody power struggle has broken out among warring communities and nobody is safe. Justice needs to be restored, and Jia is about to discover that justice always comes at a cost.

The Choice

The Choice

Author: SJ Ford Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Hero or villain? Right or wrong? You decide, in this fast-paced thriller fraught with conundrums and contradictions, forged by the love we have for our children. The curiosity, the confusion, the suspicion, the creeping fear, the panic, the anger, the hopelessness, the protective fire of a mother. Which side will you be on? She did it, you see. She killed him.  She pointed her car at him and slammed down the accelerator. Jane Bell, mother of two, frustrated and terrified about being ignored by the police, takes matters into her own hands when she uncovers plans for her neighbour to bomb the local primary school. The school and nursery which her children attend.  What would you do? What do you think? Your conscience screams alongside Jane’s as the story unfolds, as we find out more chapter by chapter from each standpoint, from each perspective, from each of the bystanders. The husband Neil. The Detective Inspector Bill Simmons, the senior officer at the scene. Aneesa Khan, the journalist following the story for the Birmingham Gazette. Simon Rafferty, the barrister who decides to grab Jane’s case and attempt to change the course of legal history. As a mother myself this sucker punched me, and tears were streaming.  It’s thought-provoking, captivating. And not always in a comfortable way. What if this were my children’s school? But thou shalt not kill. It’s black and white isn’t it? Or is it… With twists and turns along the way, you follow the story of Jane and her incredible journey through the media firestorm and the trial. Would you take one life to save hundreds? Let’s talk about it after you’ve read this book.

Debut Books of the Month

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