If you’re a fan of the courtroom drama of legal thrillers, you’ll love The Defendants by lawyer turned thriller writer John Ellsworth.
Thaddeus Murfee, a rookie lawyer with 18 months of trial experience, runs a one-man firm in the little Illinois town of Orbit. When a local woman, Ermeline Ransom, claims that she has been molested by a local businessman, Victor Harrow, she asks Thad to represent her in a civil suit. But, when Harrow turns up dead, and Ermeline’s fingerprints are on the weapon, Thad finds himself having to defend her against a possible death penalty.
Despite a few typos here and there, this is legal drama at its best. Ellsworth pens the courtroom scenes with a degree of authenticity and veracity that just feels real. Moreover, he totally nails the small town scene, and the often quirky characters that inhabit small-town middle America. In addition, he shows the seamy side of big city politics and corruption.
The surprise ending will leave you gasping – no joke. I give it four stars.