courtroom drama

John Lescroart writes compelling courtroom dramas set in San Francisco, most of them centered on the brilliant defense lawyer Dismas (“Diz”) Hardy. Now, in his latest work, The Fall, Lescroart begins moving into the future with Hardy’s daughter, Rebecca (“The Beck”), who has passed the bar and joined his firm as an associate. The author’s familiar stable of supporting characters dominates this engaging courtroom drama, principally Diz’s former partner, Wes Farrell, now District Attorney; Abe Glitzky, the African-Jewish-American former head of SFPD homicide and now an investigator for the DA; and Wyatt Hunt, the former cop who serves as a private investigator for Diz’s firm.

The Fall: Rebecca Hardy’s First Case (Dismas Hardy #16) by John Lescroart ★★★★☆

Despite their continuing friendship, Diz and Wes find themselves in combat over the investigation and trial around the tragic and grisly murder of a young African-American woman. The title, The Fall, refers to the woman’s death by being pushed or thrown off a bridge into moving traffic far below. Because the victim is African-American, and members of the black community are in an uproar over the failure of the police and the DA to convict murderers of black people, Wes is under tremendous pressure from an aggressive, self-seeking politician, the police department, and the news media to arrest and convict the murderer before all the facts in the case are known. Meanwhile Diz and The Beck scramble to uncover evidence that will point away from their client, Greg Treadway, who is targeted as the suspect because of a great deal of circumstantial evidence. Despite her complete lack of trial experience and almost crippling self-doubt, The Beck is pressed into service as Treadway’s attorney.

As a Bay Area resident, it’s a pleasure to read a novel set among familiar sites, with some of the region’s best-known restaurants and landmarks frequently cropping up on its pages. The pleasure is compounded by the fascinating characters, the intricate plotting, the suspense, and the surprising conclusion. If you’re a fan of detective fiction or courtroom dramas, you’ll love The Fall.

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