Some Of The Best Legal Thriller Writers 

John Grisham

John Grisham was born in 1955 at Jonesboro in the State of Arkansas.

His father ran a cotton farm and worked in the construction industry. John became an avid reader during his childhood and often dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. After a series of uninspiring jobs he studied law and entered politics.

In his spare time he began writing legal thrillers.John spent four years perfecting A Time to Kill which was finally published in 1989. The intricate but realistic plots of his books have inspired many successful Hollywood films. The Firm became famous as a Tom Cruise film in 1993 and took Grisham’s career to another level. 

The Runaway Jury (1996) charts the struggle to prove the tobacco industry’s role in smoking related deaths. The film version starred Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman. Other books include The Pelican Brief, Skipping Christmas, The Rainmaker and A Painted House which was partly based on his own childhood ambitions. 

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Michael Connelly

Born in 1956 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Michael Connelly turned to writing thrillers after failing to achieve good grades at Florida University.

He analysed Raymond Chandler novels to help him structure his books. Although The Black Echo, his debut novel of 1992 won awards, success was assured when President Bill Clinton was seen with Connelly’s third novel, The Concrete Blonde (1994). The Black Box uses the Los Angeles riots of 1992 as a backdrop for the plot’s fictionalised unsolved murder. 

The 1992 novel, Blood Work, features the character Terrell McCabe who has undergone a heart transplant. His efforts to find the murderer of his heart’s donor inspired a film in 2012 with Clint Eastwood in the title role.

The Lincoln Lawyer also became a film in 2011. Connelly’s catalogue of more than thirty thrillers include The Scarecrow, Chasing the Dime and City of Bones. Many feature regular characters such as Harry Bosch, Mickey Haller and Henry Pierce.

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Robert Dugoni

Robert Dugoni’s home town is Seattle in Washington.

He attended Stanford University Law School and became a highly successful lawyer in San Francisco. In 1998 at the age of thirty-nine, he impulsively decided to fulfil his childhood dreams of becoming a writer.

He returned to Seattle and rented a tiny office which served as his workplace. By 2004 he had published his first legal thriller, The Cyanide Candy. It would be another three years before Damage Control appeared.

Dugoni takes great care to create storylines with intricate plots and interesting characters. Titles include Wrongful Death, Close to Home (2012), Murder One (2011), A Steep Price and Her Final Breath (2015). He regularly holds seminars in America lecturing on how to write successful crime thrillers.

Click here to read our exclusive with Robert Dugoni.

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Steve Cavanagh

He grew up in the Lisburn area of Belfast and has read crime thrillers since his early teens. Steve’s successful legal career concentrated on civil rights cases and inspired his legal thrillers which are set in America. 

His first novel entitled was entitled The Defence, featuring Eddie Flynn. Cavanagh is known for creating intelligent plots with surprising twists and turns. His thrillers typically contain fast-paced action that builds a high level of suspense. The Plea also features Eddie Flynn who uses the skills he learned on the wrong side of the law to cleverly trick courtroom witnesses.

The award-winning The Liar (2018) is based on an anguished father’s struggles to find his missing daughter. Thirteen explores the impact of having a serial killer as a member of the jury. Twisted  was another bestseller.

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Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline’s home is in Philadelphia.

After taking a law degree she had various legal roles including litigation and acting as clerk of the court. Lisa began writing thrillers in the early 1990s and has since produced more than thirty successful novels.

She has also been President of America’s Crime Writers’ Association. Her books are filled with strong female characters such as Mary di Nunzio and Bennie Rosato who run their own law practice. They feature in many of her earliest publications including Everywhere That Mary Went (1993), Final Appeal, Don’t Go and Dead Ringer. Lisa’s plots have frequent unexpected turns that provide the reader with action-packed suspense. They also present various moral dilemmas.

For example, Save Me, published in 2011, centres around the consequences of a school worker’s choice of who to rescue when there is an explosion in the building. Does she save her own child or the girl who is victimising her?

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Gillian McAllister

Gillian was born in 1985 in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham. Since completing her law degree at the University of Birmingham she has worked as a solicitor as well as writing legal thrillers. 

Gillian’s first novel was Everything but the Truth. It was quickly followed by Anything You do Say in 2017. The plot investigates the dilemma of Jo who is accidentally responsible for causing her pursuer to fall from a flight of stone steps. Should she run for help but face arrest or hide the truth and leave him?

The intense, brooding atmosphere and the clever, escalating suspense are typical features of Gillian’s work so far. Her 2018 publication of No Further Questions is known in America as The Good Sister.

Click here to read our exclusive interview with Gillian.

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Mark Gimenez

Mark Gimenez spent his childhood in Texas at La Marque in Gavaston County.

He first studied political science before attending the prestigious Notre Dame Law School. After graduating in 1980 he spent more than a decade gaining experience as a lawyer in Dallas.

After establishing his own law practice at Fort Worth, Mark began to use his extensive insight of the American law system in legal thrillers. His first publication in 2005 was the Colour of Law. The plot highlights the dilemma faced by lawyer Scott Fenney, one of Mark’s most popular characters.

Should Scott mount a successful defence of a man he believes to be innocent of the murder of a powerful politician’s son or bow to pressure to convict him in order to save his own lucrative job?

The sharp dialogue and scenes of action-packed drama set the tone for further thrillers including Accused, The Absence of Guilt, The Common Lawyer, End of Days and The Governor’s Wife.

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Victor Methos

In his early teens Victor Methos witnessed the traumatic events surrounding his innocent friend’s confession to a crime following more than eight hours of relentless interrogation.

The experience made him determined to become a lawyer to help the disadvantaged in their struggle against the inequalities of the legal system. As a successful lawyer in Salt Lake City, Utah, he relaxes by writing legal thrillers. One of his regular characters is the lawyer Brigham Theodore.

In The Neon Lawyer, Brigham is involved in a vigilante case where a man was compelled to kill his daughter’s murderer. Victor’s series of Jon Stanton thrillers include Peak Road, Walk in Darkness, Purgatory and Arsonist. Run Away with its Honolulu setting sees Stanton searching for the mother and child victims of a kidnapping.

Many of Victor’s  novels are relatively short but are full of gripping tension and fast action mingled with a menacing atmosphere and suspense.

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Neil White

Neil White was born in 1965 in West Yorkshire. Growing up in Wakefield he developed an affinity for historical books and Agatha Christie novels. Eager to leave school, he pursued a series of jobs with little or no prospects.

By his mid-twenties he regretted his actions and became a lawyer. He began writing legal thrillers as a hobby in 1994 but failed to get any of his stories published. His breakthrough came in 2007 with his thriller, Fallen Idols. The plot involves an intriguing series of murders with professional footballers as the victims. It’s the first case for journalist Jack Garrett and his assistant Laura McGanity.

They return in Dead Silent, Last Rites and Lost Souls. Sam and Joe Parker are brothers who have several adventures in legal thrillers such as The Death Collector and Next to Die. Dan Grant is another example of Neil’s sharp-witted characters. He features in a series of thrillers including The Darkness Around Her and From the Shadows.

Click here to read our exclusive interview with Neil.

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Scott Turow

Born in 1949 in Chicago, Illinois, Scott Turow went to  Stanford University and the exclusive Harvard Law School.

He began his legal career as a law lecturer. After a few years he joined a legal practise where he was involved in several well-publicised corruption trials. 

Scott began writing in the 1980s and many of his legal thrillers are set in the fictional world of Kindle County. Some have been made into films. The 1990 film, Presumed Innocent, stars Harrison Ford as a lawyer who is accused of a colleague’s murder. Other Scott Turow thrillers that have received the Hollywood treatment include Reversible Errors, The Burden of Proof and Innocent.

One of Scott’s most recent legal thrillers is Testimony. It’s an intriguing tale with complex characters and elements of conspiracy regarding the disappearance of an entire refugee camp in the aftermath of the Bosnian War.

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