In the last year of my time as a member of the working population before I took retirement I was in a very tedious position in my employment and I used to take advantage of all the time on my hands to read books, I would in general read a book a day.
Lately however I have been doing a lot less reading and most of the reading I have been doing has been in the form of photography magazines after being inspired into photography by a member of this site whose reviews are enough to inspire anyone.
A few weeks ago however, my son thrust a book into my hands and told me to have a read, saying that he had just finished it and really enjoyed it and thought it was something I would enjoy too, the book in question was "The Tenth Case" by Joseph teller and her is my thoughts on it.
THE STORY IN BRIEF:
Harrison J Walker known to most as Jaywalker is facing a suspension from his profession as a criminal defence lawyer in New York because he has seen to be continually bending the rules to suit his cases.
He has been granted the right to finish ten cases before his three years suspension kicks in and Jaywalker is determined to make sure his record for acquittals will remain superb; however his tenth case is to prove a lot trickier than he had expected.
Samara Tannenbaum has been accused of bumping off her filthy rich hubby and the evidence against her is staggering, she has taken out a huge life insurance policy on him just months earlier and the police have even found blood stained clothing in her apartment.
Although jaywalker is not one to give up he is starting to become very unsure of his ability to get this lady off until he starts to think that maybe just maybe this crime is all a little too perfect and the evidence just a little too overpowering and perhaps, just perhaps Samara has been set up.
I certainly found this a book that I struggled to put down, there was a plenty suspense throughout the novel and it was a nicely paced book that did not have the lulls that can often allow your mind to wander from the story.
It centre's around law and courtrooms so if this is not a thing you enjoy then you may well take less from the book than I did but for me it was a very enjoyable read.
The main character (Jaywalker) is a likeable enough character and I found myself urging him on to do well and really got drawn into what he was all about and how he went about his work, the other top characters were all portrayed very well throughout the book and it was almost as if you could see them, the picture painted of them was so good.
This book done very well in setting the scene and then having a great middle and an excellent ending and it is certainly a book I would recommend to others but I would say it is more for people that like courtroom dramas or have a real interest in law because the authors knowledge of law takes it a bit deep at times.
I am a great fan of courtroom dramas, which is one of the reasons why I enjoy John Grisham novels so much and I pretty much look on him as the master of this genre. Therefore, when I discover a book that claims that it's 'better than Grisham or your money back' I am bound to be interested. This was the claim made by the publishers of 'The Tenth Case' which meant that I found myself compelled to read it. I do think that Grisham at his best is pretty unbeatable although not all that he writes lives up to expectations. So could this book beat, or at least match, what Grisham does? Read on...
At the start of the book, we meet Jaywalker, a defence lawyer, whose methods are somewhat unorthodox to say the least. In fact, he is in so much trouble that he is about to be barred from practicing law for three years. He is, however, permitted to complete ten existing cases before he is required to stop. Nine of these are quite straightforward and soon dispensed with but the tenth case is different. Samara Tannenbaum is accused of murdering her wealthy husband. The evidence is stacked against her, she has no alibi and only a month before the murder, she took out a hefty life assurance policy in case of his sudden death. The case looks unwinnable but Jaywalker still has to give it his best shot.
The book follows Jaywalker as he prepares for the case and then the actual trial itself. It is fascinating to read how the case progresses and how the lawyer sets about trying to refute all the evidence that is stacked against his client. I really liked the way the author gave the reader lots of insights into the way Jaywalker was thinking, particularly as he attempts to turn the facts around to his advantage. I enjoyed the way that, during the trial, we discovered why he would ask certain questions of witnesses but leave others out. The reader knows that he is one of the most successful defence lawyers, and this access to his thoughts help you to understand why.
The way the trial unfolds is riveting and I wanted to read more and more. Much of the interrogation of the witnesses is presented as court transcripts which I thought worked very well. As well as increasing the pace, it gives an excellent feel to the way the examinations and cross-examinations are going and makes the reader feel that they could actually be there.
The main character, Jaywalker, is developed very well. Not only does the reader experience his excellent rhetoric and sharp mind in court, but they also get to know something of the man too. He comes across as very likeable and because of this, regardless of whether Samara, is innocent or guilty, you want him to win. You can't help but smile as he manages to counter some significant piece of evidence, but you also despair at other times when he seems to lose ground with the jury.
In essence, this is a gripping courtroom drama, and the reason it is so is because it is well paced, engrossing and you really don't know to the very end how it is going to turn out. And, as with the very best of this type of novel, expect the unexpected. There are many twists along the way to its absorbing conclusion and towards the end I could not put it down.
So to return to the question of whether this book is better than Grisham, here is my verdict. In my opinion, it is definitely better than some and I rate it so highly that I would have to say that The Tenth Case is as good as Grisham's best. It really is that good and I am very glad that I read it.
The paperback, with 400 pages, is available from Amazon for only £3.86.
This review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk.
Harrison J Walker (known as Jaywalker) is about to be suspended for 3 years from his profession as a Criminal Defence Lawyer in New York City for continually bending the rules in his favour. The Court has granted him a chance to finish just ten cases before his suspension and Jaywalker is determined that his excellent tack record for acquittals will remain.
However, his last case may prove more tricky than the usual cases he takes on. Samara Tannenbaum is accused of murdering her incredibly rich elderly husband. The evidence against her is staggering; a beautiful ex prostitute who was heard having a screaming match with her husband at the time of his murder, clothes smothered in blood stains found at her apartment and most damning of all, a life insurance policy for millions taken out months before his death signed by her that would ensure his estate would return to her if he should die within six months.
Jaywalker believes he has hit rock bottom but his overwhelming desire for Samara keeps him plodding on with her case even if he does believe she is guilty. After a while, her constant denials finally get to him and he starts to wonder if this crime is just too perfect - was Samara framed?
This story is certainly full of suspense, especially towards the latter part of the book as this is mainly cantered around the court room. This section is extremely pacey, helped along by the fact that most of the chapters involve word by word accounts and conversations between the prosecutor and witness or the defence and the witness. Due to the nature of the scene, these conversations were often short and to the point which I made very quick work of quickly flicking through each page!
However, I found myself quickly flicking through pages for another reason that wasn't as positive and in fact I found that I couldn't involve myself in the story as much as I would have liked to and that was because I felt there were fundamental flaws with the way in which the book was written. Quite often I felt that I was experiencing some kind of déjà vu when reading some sentences only to realise that I had read the exact same ( or at least fairly similar!) sentence a couple of pages before.
For instance, I read a section where Samara's appalling childhood was explained only for exactly the same thing to be repeated literally pages later in what seemed word for word in a conversation between Samara and Jaywalker. To add insult to injury, it was once again repeated (although differently I'll admit!) in the courtroom. It wasn't that it was repeated as often this happens with stories if the perspective is changing but it was more the similar language that was used that really put me off.
I thought that this really had an excellent story, and I did find it interesting that the main character, Jaywalker, was a lawyer rather than a detective or someone central to the crime as with most books of the same ilk. Quite often, the author added some thoughtful and interesting points about the courtroom and its rules, I particularly liked the gentle sparring that occurred between him and the prosecutor as well as descriptions of tactics used in courtrooms to win over juries.
Nevertheless, these interesting tit-bits provided only a small section of the book and for a lot of the rest, I was doing some serious skim reading. I've sat here for a while now trying to put into words why I skim read so much, but I cannot put it very eloquently as it comes down to this: it just wasn't very interesting. Before even looking up the author Joseph Teller, it is more than obvious that he has some kind of interest in the law and it wasn't a surprise to find out that Teller was a criminal defence attorney. (or perhaps he still is!) the problem is that he is so involved in his career and seems so passionate about that side of the law that he seems to sometimes forget that the average reader isn't at all interested in every small miniscule detail of everything involved with a case. It simply didn't make for interesting reading at all.
Added to this, I got half way through the book before it became blindingly obvious "whodunit". After that, although it was slightly amusing reading and waiting for the characters work it out, the final bit of enjoyment had gone for me. Despite getting the feeling that the author was trying to create a main protagonist whom (he thought!) was based on him, Jaywalker is actually an interesting character; a handsome older man; smart, cheeky and successful so it wasn't too troublesome reading until the end. What didn't ring true however was that he didn't figure out what had happened right to the very last minute. Throughout the book a big deal is made of how he is one of the best attorneys in New York, how he is incredibly smart and intelligent so the fact that he didn't figure the murder out sooner is just incredible.
Another point that proved to be a bit of a let down was the central character of Jaywalker himself. The back cover blurb states that Jaywalker is a bit of a maverick and this case is his last ditch before he is suspended. Upon reading the first couple of pages, I was indeed intrigued by him and hoped he would live up to my expectations of being an interesting and quirky main character; he'd "bent" the rules to get his own way on decisions on his cases and had received sexual favours in stairwells that had been caught on tape. However, this was the last I saw of the interesting and cheeky "maverick" Jaywalker, as the rest of the time he seemed fairly ordinary and uninteresting. SUCH a let down!
Overall, this was a bit of a let down. It was a bit of a double edged sword; on the one hand it was interesting because of the authors incredible knowledge of the legal world but that was also its downfall. He had great characters and a good plot but his writing style could do with a bit of honing and his facts and descriptions major culling in places! It had promise but it just didn't deliver.