The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller opens with an attorney, Harrison J. Walker AKA “Jaywalker” standing in front of a disciplinary committee. Jaywalker is suspended from the practice of law for three years due to his use of “creative” tactics and for the fact that he received an oral “token of gratitude” in the courthouse stairwell from a grateful client, while in full view of a security camera. He is told to pick ten of his unfinished cases to complete and hand the rest off.
Jaywalker’s tenth case will be his most challenging ever. Samara Moss, Jaywalker’s client, is a young, beautiful woman, who married an elderly billionaire when she was an eighteen-year-old waitress and sometime hooker. Samara’s husband is murdered and the police find a weapon matching her husband’s stab wounds, along with a bloody towel and bloody shirt stashed in Samara’s bathroom. Add this to the huge life insurance policy that Samara appears to have taken out on him just weeks before the murder, and the case becomes the one in ten case that can never be won no matter how good the defense.
This is a very good legal thriller. The book gives a compelling insight into the workings of the legal system, especially from the perspective of the defense. The character of Jaywalker was going through a sort of midlife crisis throughout the book, yet the author managed to let us see that internal conflict without making the character a boring man. Just enough of Jaywalker’s past is revealed to assist the reader in understanding the man, but not so much that we start skimming pages out of frustration. The end of the book was excellent! While I sometimes find enigmatic endings irritating, because the character of Samara was pretty much a cipher herself, it really worked here.
The Tenth Case is a great book for anyone who enjoys Scott Turow or the early Grisham novels. I look forward to reading many more novels by this excellent author.