Special Circumstances – by Sheldon Siegel (2000)

Mike Daley has been a lot of things – a husband, a public defender, a priest briefly, and a lawyer with Simpson & Gates of San Francisco. Now he is divorced, although he remains on amiable terms with his wife Rosie, who is also an attorney. His legal work is sub-par, according to his boss, and the company has given him an ultimatum – either tender a resignation or be fired. So Mike gives his notice, stating that he has decided to set up his own private practice.

On the last day of his employment at Simpson & Gates, a senior partner as well as a younger female attorney die by gunshot at 1:30 in the morning. It appears that the senior partner had an argument with the woman, pulled out a gun and shot her, then turned the gun on himself. Everyone at the firm is shocked. The police question everyone who was in the building that evening. To Mike’s surprise, the police conclude that instead of the senior partner being the culprit, someone else came into the office and murdered both of the attorneys. Even more surprising, Mike’s friend Joel, another attorney at Simpson & Gates, is accused of the crime.

Since Mike is no longer employed by the firm, Joel begs Mike to be his attorney. Mike accepts the challenge, and his ex-wife Rosie teams up with him. The search for evidence to clear his client of murder is on.

This legal thriller was well-written, with many twists and turns throughout the book. At some points, I was convinced that Joel was indeed the killer, at other points I was sure he was innocent. The author did a great job of describing the hunt for the truth, and presenting the case at trial. It reminded me a lot of some of John Grisham’s trial early novels about lawyers and courtrooms.

Compared to many crime novels, this novel was not disturbingly graphic, which I appreciated. It was more about the process of investigating and the actual trial, not so much about shocking the reader with sordid details about the murder. There was some language throughout the book, which could be expected with the emotional distress of the accused person. All in all, this was a captivating whodunnit novel, and those enjoying trial stories will likely have a hard time putting down this book.

Author: alwaysreading1

I'm just a person with an intense love for reading!

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