The Tenth Case
Review: Police procedurals abound — good, bad and indifferent. Now, Joseph Teller's stellar, The Tenth Case, sets the standard for defense attorney procedurals. Drawing on Teller's thirty-five year career as a criminal defense attorney, the novel is the first in his projected series starring Harrison J. Walker, a hard-headed, soft-hearted criminal lawyer known in the courts and on the streets as "Jaywalker." With his commitment to getting his clients a "not guilty" verdict, and a success rate of over ninety percent, he's the kind of guy you want defending you, guilty or not.
Although he's eminently successful in getting his clients acquitted, Jaywalker's got a major problem. His reputation as "a renegade among renegades" has finally caught up with him, especially for an alleged sexual indiscretion, and he is being suspended from practicing law for the next three years. In the meantime, however, he can complete ten of the seventeen cases he listed as primary concerns. The first nine he cleans up in record time but the tenth, a murder case, becomes his make or break, both professionally and personally, and is the substance for the novel.
What distinguishes Teller's novel is its focus on telling the story based on the procedures and protocols a defense attorney invokes to defend his client, in this case a stunningly beautiful, petite, twenty-six-year old former client of his, Samara Moss aka Samantha Musgrove, now accused of murdering her seventy-year-old ailing husband, allegedly for the proceeds of a multimillion dollar insurance policy. In defending her, Jaywalker, who is "closing in on fifty" has to overcome two obstacles. One is his attraction to her. The other is an apparently iron-clad case against her. And while he reluctantly resists the sexual temptations she tosses his way with his promises to wait until "after", he meticulously builds a case for her defense, taking the readers through the details of the procedures for dealing with the police and prosecutors, selecting a jury of sympathetic citizens, citing relevant statutes, preparing his potty-mouthed client for her trial, and strategizing on how best to cast suspicion on others and raise reasonable doubt in the jurors' minds about the bloody murder weapon wrapped in Moss's blood-soaked blouse and hidden in her bathroom, to which only she had access.
Besides being a cracker-jack of a page-turning mystery with a surprising twist of an ending, Teller's story provides an insightful background setting for a courtroom drama involving a master manipulator, a straight-up, competent prosecutor and a street-wise former prostitute adept at getting her way with older men. With The Tenth Case, "Jaywalker," suspended from the bar or not, definitely gets the green light for more of the same in Teller's projected series.
Special thanks to M. Wayne Cunningham (firstname.lastname@example.org) for contributing his review of The Tenth Case.
Acknowledgment: Planned Television Arts provided a copy of The Tenth Case for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — M. Wayne Cunningham — All Rights Reserved
Reprinted with Permission
Location(s) referenced in The Tenth Case:
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The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller — A Jaywalker Mystery
Publisher: Mira Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: October 2008
List Price: $7.99