The #1 Lawyer
May 13, 2024
Book Review

The #1 Lawyer

reviewed by Lou Jacobs


“Gobblicious” is the perfect word to describe this compelling novel. This book masterfully blends a riveting courtroom legal battle with an irresistible mystery-thriller.

James Patterson teams up for his second collaboration with the accomplished Nancy Allen. She brings not only her own thrilling novels to the table but also her legal expertise as a former assistant attorney general and prosecutor, adding authenticity to this whirlwind tale. Patterson’s own talents for characterization and plotting shine throughout this suspenseful story.

Stafford Lee Penney, a local Biloxi hero, relishes engaging with his constituents. Revered as a criminal defense attorney who has never lost a case, he staunchly believes in the Fifth Amendment’s right to due process for everyone, regardless of personal feelings about the client. He finds himself embroiled in a highly explosive and controversial case, defending Dr. Daniel Caro, who is accused of murdering his lover, Aurora Gates. Despite the circumstantial evidence, the prosecuting district attorney, Henry Gordon-Jones—whose niece is the victim—presents damning evidence, including photos and expert testimony suggesting that Aurora’s body shows signs of strangulation and a gunshot wound, alongside other brutal injuries. Penney’s cross-examination highlights his client’s humanity and service to the community, even suggesting the possibility of another suspect. After a tumultuous trial, the verdict of “Not Guilty” leads to courtroom chaos, including an assault on Penney by the victim’s father, Benjamin Gates.

The plot thickens when Penney receives a phone call about the murder of his estranged wife, Carrie, found in their bed next to a man whose face has been gruesomely disfigured. Next to the bed, the authorities discover Benjamin Gates, dead from an apparent suicide. Overwhelmed with grief, Penney’s life spirals into alcoholism. The situation worsens when Dr. Caro’s wife is also found murdered, making Penney a prime suspect. He decides to defend himself, supported by his long-time friends Mason Burnett, a successful trial lawyer, and Jenny Glaser, a private investigator.

The authors excel at storytelling, weaving multiple plot lines, twists, and unexpected events into a suspenseful tale full of menace and intrigue. This unpredictable narrative culminates in an explosive finale, deftly addressing themes of racism, corruption, and the complex ramifications of both friendship and love. Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for supplying an uncorrected proof in exchange for an honest review.

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