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Book Review: The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller

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The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller is a gripping courtroom drama for readers who love mysteries and legal thrillers. Teller’s debut novel centers around attorney Harrison J. Walker, known as “Jaywalker.” Although a bit of a cliché, the Jaywalker nickname is appropriate, as Jaywalker is known for playing fast and loose with the rules as well as the ladies. His propensity for recklessness gets him into trouble, earning him a three year suspension. He earns something of a reprieve, when he is permitted to complete ten of his pending cases before beginning his suspension.

Jaywalker’s tenth case is the murder trial of Samara Moss, a beautiful, apparently gold-digging young woman who is accused of murdering her wealthy husband. Accustomed to winning, Walker finds it increasingly difficult to defend his client, or to even believe in her innocence. He must not only find a way to defend her, but to resist the sexual tension between the two of them.

Despite the stereotypical reckless hero with the irreverent nickname, Jaywalker is an engaging character. He has his talents and his flaws, and also some personal demons that add depth to his character. Overall, he is a well-crafted character whose personality keeps the plot moving through the potentially slow portions of the book. Teller’s background as an attorney is evident, as much of the book takes place in the courtroom, and he walks the reader through numerous details of the trial, and through Jaywalker’s thoughts as he builds and tries his case. A couple of nice twists keep the story interesting.

The downsides of this book would be the occasional slowdowns when Teller almost lectures the reader on courtroom procedure. The character of Jaywalker, and the story itself are interesting enough to give the reader reason to keep reading, but this component could have been handled with a lighter touch. Teller’s writing style is easy to read, though not as accomplished as that of a more experienced novelist.

While this is not the type of thriller I typically review, the highly accessible writing style, engaging main character, and healthy dose of suspense make for an entertaining read, and it is a solid entry into the courtroom thriller genre. Fans of John Grisham will love The Tenth Case.

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  • Laur

    In contrast to one comment above, one of the best things about The Tenth Case IS the legal stuff.

    What I didn’t like were the several gratuitous political digs. Most readers, I suspect, aren’t appreciative of political propaganda. Nor in need.

    Given the critical look at the judicial system in the book, I am surprised that Teller didn’t take issue with the notion that a defense attorney’s job is to get his client off, rather than to make sure his client gets a vigorous, fair trial. I suppose that’s, “tellingly,” the Democrat view?