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The Legal Thriller

Another subgenre of  mystery fiction is the legal thriller. This type of story focuses on the investigation of a crime, the courtroom proceedings, and the guilt or innocence of the defendant. In general, the authors are legal professionals who have based their stories on their own experiences.


Some contemporary examples of such authors are Scott Turrow and John Grisham, but the best-selling example from the 20th century was Erle Stanley Gardner. A self-taught attorney, he wrote more than eighty novels featuring the unbeatable defense attorney Perry Mason. While the reader always knows that Mason’s client is innocent, the climax occurs in the courtroom when Mason  reveals the real culprit.


Gardner also wrote a companion series in which the protagonist, the resolute district attorney Doug Selby, battles in court against a devious defense attorney whose clients are invariably “guilty as hell.”


Miriam bat Isaac is an amateur sleuth, but she does occasionally take on cases that have already been adjudicated. She tells of one such case in the short story  “The Confession. ” Here she has been asked to stop a scheduled execution on the grounds that the Indian textiles merchant is innocent. It will be up to her to determine whether the prisoner is indeed innocent, and if so, who the culprit really is.  “The Confession” will appear in the next issue of Gargoyle Magazine.


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