Legal Thriller: The Second Chair, by John Lescroart

The Second Chair (Dismas Hardy)
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Attorney Diz Hardy’s inexperienced partner, Amy Wu, tackles her first murder case, even though she believes her client, high school student Andrew Barlett, to be guilty as charged. Someone has shot Andrew’s girlfriend, Amy, and the drama teacher, Mr. Mooney, during play rehearsals at his home. The police believe they have Andrew dead to rights, especially because he’s been toting a gun to school and is known to be jealous of their relationship. He’s also been caught out in some pretty blatant lies. When Wu’s strategy, to plead guilty to keep Andrew within the juvenile tier of justice, backfires badly, Diz steps in as second chair. While Andrew is in custody, someone else begins shooting victims with legal connections all around the city.

As a courtroom drama, this novel is slow-moving, falling somewhat flat, and he personalities of Hardy and Glitsky are rather blunted this time around. On the other hand, Lescroart does a great job at presenting a thought-provoking array of ethical issues as they pertain to the responsibilities of the defense attorney. Amy commits some serious errors, which cause Diz to second guess some of the professional choices he has made in the emotional wake of the murder of one of his closest friends (see The First Law. Ms Wu is definitely in need of a refresher course in ethics, as she blithely skirts perilously close to the ethical boundaries. There are also some interesting glimpses into the workings of the juvenile courts, and the factors that are considered in determining whether a teen defendant should or should not be tried as an adult.

Wonder if Lescroart is doing an Evanovich with his titles, inserting “first”, “second”, etc into the series.


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