Friday, 15 November 2013

Perjury by Stan Latreille, 1998

Patti Abbot hosts Friday’s Forgotten Books at her blog Pattinase.

“Poised to join the ranks of Scott Turow and Richard North Patterson, trial judge Stan Latreille has firmly established himself as a master of courtroom suspense. Perjury is his stunning debut, a bold thriller about lies, sex, and the conflict between law and justice…”

My copy of the book.
It has been a while since I purchased any books from the secondhand bookstalls I frequent. I have promised myself that I won’t buy any more new or old novels, at least not until I read a quarter of the 200-odd physical books in my possession. There’s only so much paper you can have around the house. However, I occasionally buy ebooks from Amazon, my comfort levels with an e-reader having gone up considerably.

Sometimes I break my promise, as I did a couple of days ago when I’d no hesitation in picking up Perjury, a 375-page legal thriller by Stan Latreille. The cover and a new author were the motivating factors. Library Journal described it as “a striking debut…in the tradition of Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent.”

For over two decades Stan Latreille, 76, was a trial judge in Michigan presiding over murder and rape trials, complex civil cases, and family litigation. Prior to a career in law, he was a newspaper reporter and editor for ten years. The retired Livingston Circuit Court judge is working on his second novel, tentatively titled Absolution, and blogs at The Livingston Post. Latreille also offers his services as a visiting judge and a case mediator and arbitrator.

While I have not read Perjury yet, the synopsis on the back cover has prompted me to move it way up my list of books to read in the immediate future. It promises a sensitive and delicate story, for it says…

“Jack Brenner, a burned-out public defender from Chicago, has left lying clients and political maneuvering behind to take on the more lucrative, predictable routine of civil law in a small Michigan town. But when he is asked to defend a woman accused of perjury for falsely claiming that her husband abused their young daughter, Jack is swept back into the labyrinth of the criminal justice system—and into a dangerous attraction for his seductive client whose case he cannot win and must not lose…”

I also liked the opening lines which read: “Davey Alden turned out to be one of those wild flowers that miraculously spring up from the cracks in the concrete. In this case the concrete was the Laffler Country Jail, on the outskirts of Kirtley, Michigan.”

Frankly, I don’t recall the last time I read a legal thriller; perhaps, it was a novel or two by John Grisham and Erle Stanley Gardner a few years ago. I did a search of writers of legal thrillers on the internet and I wasn’t surprised when I failed to recognise most of the dozen-odd names. The ones I’d read, apart from Grisham and Gardner, included Scott Turow and John Mortimer. The ones whose names were merely familiar to me were Michael Connelly, Steve Martini, Brad Meltzer, and Richard North Patterson.

Legal thrillers, if plotted and written well, are exciting to read.


Note: You can see Stan Latreille's photograph at MLive.

12 comments:

  1. I really loved Scott Turow's first book but didn't get into his second. I read a couple of Grishams, but I think the lawyer books just aren't quite my cup of tea. This one sounds impressive though.

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    1. Charles, I like legal thrillers especially if there are courtroom battles, as in the Perry Mason novels, which really cannot be compared to Scott Turow or John Grisham. I think PERJURY is not going to disappoint. I liked the first couple of pages I read.

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  2. I'm a fan of legal thrillers. I grew up reading the Perry Mason series and watching the TV version. I'm not a big fan of John Grisham's legal thrillers, but I like the sound of Stan Latreille's PERJURY. I'll give it a try. Good review!

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    1. Thank you, George. Stan Latreille is a one-book author and there has been no further news on his second novel. I read a lot of Perry Masons in my youth, at times two paperbacks in one day. I read a couple of them a few years ago and enjoyed them as much. I liked Raymond Burr in the original television series though not so much in the latter TV movies where he sports a beard.

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  3. Prashant: I had not heard of Stan Latreille before reading your post. I will be interested in reading your review to see if the hype of the blurbs is justified.

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    1. Bill, thank you for writing. I'm always on the lookout for authors I've never heard of and so far I've been lucky with such books. I'm looking forward to reading PERJURY and reviewing it but it will be a while before I do so, other books being in queue.

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  4. Legal thrillers are not my first choice for fiction, but I enjoy finding lawyers with difficult and suspenseful cases in western and frontier fiction. Johnny Boggs does a nice job with fact-based historical material: LONELY TRUMPET and SPARK ON THE PRAIRIE. Another: Carol Buchanan's GOD'S THUNDERBOLT.

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    1. Ron, I don't think I've read about lawyers in any kind of westerns. Frankly, it didn't occur to me that there could be lawyers in frontier fiction too. I'll keep Johnny Boggs' and Carol Buchanan's books in mind. Thanks for this insight.

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  5. I definitely want to read more legal thrillers but don't have a lot. Except for Erle Stanley Gardner books.

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    1. Tracy, I love Gardner's novels, especially if Perry Mason and Hamilton Burger are sparring in the courtroom. This book looks interesting and I hope to read it shortly.

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  6. I can't say I have heard of this author before. I hope you enjoy the book when you get there.The opening is promising.

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    1. Col, I hadn't heard of Stan Latreille either but then he has written only one book so far and it has got fairly decent reviews. The opening is good, I agree; hopefully, it will sustain all the way through.

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