Robert Dugoni’s latest legal thriller is set in 1987 and features a thrilling courtroom battle between a relatively new trial lawyer, who has a whopping three years of legal experience, and an experienced San Fransisco prosecution team who’s out for blood.
Peter Donley’s job is to defend his clients. But this time, he’s really got his work cut out for him when Father Thomas Martin is accused of stabbing a homeless teenager named Andrew Bennet at a shelter he runs to help young men off the street. District Attorney Gil Ramsey and his chief prosecutor, Linda St. Claire, have everything working their way, including the evidence.
But the evidence the prosecution is playing with is a loaded deck. Detective Dixon Connor has made sure of that, and the shady cop has done everything possible to make sure Father Martin goes down for the crime in an effort to conceal dark and dirty secrets, some of which could implicate him. That includes sticking Martin with the murder weapon and releasing photos that suggest he’s a pedophile.
Donley struggles with flying solo, having become used to having his uncle Lou, a far more seasoned attorney, by his side. Lou, though, is still recovering from serious health issues, which means it’s time for Donley to spread his wings and fly on his own. And what better way to learn and gain experience than baptism by fire?
While Donley’s chief concern is representing his client well, he understands early on that the odds are fully against him. In an effort to mount a defense, Donley hires an ex-cop turned private investigator named Frank Ross. Their strategy is to find the real killer, thus proving that Father Martin is innocent, and in the process, Ross discovers a string of startling corruption.
Robert Dugoni delivers plenty of mystery and courtroom antics into his latest high-stakes legal thriller. The courtroom scenes are top-notch, but even better are the pages dedicated to the investigation. With a Matlock-like formula, The 7th Canon is well-executed and does a fine job transporting the reader back to the 1980s.
But, like the long-running legal drama television show starring Andy Griffith in the title role, the outcome is easily predictable, which takes away from the overall complexity of the case and story. Even casual readers of this genre will see the verdict coming a mile in advance, and, in the end, nothing about this plot feels new or original.
If you’re looking for twists and turns or a big reveal, you won’t find them here. But if a new legal thriller with an interesting cast of characters sounds like your preferred cup of tea, The 7th Canon will provide a few hours of dramatic legal tension.
Author: Robert Dugoni
Pages: 334 (Paperback)
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: September 27, 2016 (Order now!)