About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

2013 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction Shortlist

Yesterday the University of Alabama and the American Bar Association Journal released the shortlist for 2013 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

The three finalists this year are:

1.) The Wrong Man by David Ellis;

2.) Havana Requiem by Paul Goldstein; and,

3.) Defending Jacob by William Landay.

I am not having a good year for reading on shortlists. I had not read any of the books on the shortlists for the Canadian Arthur Ellis Awards. For the Petrona Award I had read but one of the four books. Once again I have not read any of the books on the shortlist for the Harper Lee Prize. I regret to say I have not read books by any of the shortlist trio.

More information on the books can be found at http://www.law.ua.edu/programs/harper-lee-prize-for-legal-fiction/.

The Selection Committee for the 2013 prize includes:

1.) Michael Connelly, author of The Lincoln Lawyer and winner of the 2012 Harper Lee Prize;
2.) Katie Couric, former CBS News anchor, now host of the syndicated talk show “Katie;”
3.) Morris Dees, Founder and Chief Trial Attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center;
4.) Dr. Sharon Malone, Physician and sister of the late Vivian Malone Jones, one of the first African-American students at the University of Alabama; and,
5.) Richard North Patterson, best selling author of Fall from Grace.
The American Bar Association Journal at  
http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/help_pick_the_best_legal_novel_of_the_year_vote_for_one_of_three_harper_lee/ is inviting readers to help pick the winner by voting on which of the books they consider the best.

After the 2011 Prize was won by John Grisham and the 2012 Prize by Michael Connelly I am glad this year lesser known writers of legal fiction comprise the shortlist. I hoped the Prize would only be awarded to the most prominent writers of legal fiction. I know that I am going to look for the books. Because of last year’s shortlist I read Murder One by Robert Dugoni.

The 2013 winner will be announced on July 16.


  1. Very interesting choice of nominees, and I understand them.

    I read a book by David Ellis and I liked it. I think it began this series. Also, I've read two books by Paul Goldstein about this lawyer. And the third one I've been meaning to read as Maxine Clarke highly recommended it.

    So I will read these three books.

  2. Bill - Thanks for this. I know just what you mean about lesser-known authors having the chance to 'shine.' I'm glad too that the committee has taken that approach too. It'll be interesting to see who the winner is.

  3. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. I am impressed by all the legal fiction you have read.

  4. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I think this award could become an important award for authors writing legal fiction. I am sure it will be highlighted by this year's winner on present and future books.

  5. Legal mysteries in book and TV format were staples in my family's home. Perry Mason was my introduction in both formats. The family would raptly watch Raymond Burr as Perry Mason nail the culprit each week.

    And I was reading the books, too.

    Then came The Defenders, a terrific TV series on the side of defense lawyers; it dealt with very tough subjects. We all gathered around to watch that every week.

    Then I worked for the ACLU for years, which I'm sure whetted my appetite for legal thrillers.

    It's no accident that my sister also likes this genre.

    For years I'd look for these books; now I've broaded out and don't read as many but I go back to them now and them. But global crime fiction beckons.

  6. Kathy D.: Thanks for the further comment. I have noted previously your love of legal mysteries. I am old enough to remember watching Perry Mason and The Defenders. I am equally trying to reach out for legal mysteries from outside North America.

  7. Then there's John Grisham; I must have raced through all of his books and then I just stopped to read other books.

    And there's Steve Martini whose books I devoured.

    For years if I saw "lawyer" mentioned about a book, I'd grab it. Now legal thrillers are like comfort food or like Nero Wolfe, going back to them for a break in the fast pace of global mysteries.

    You must read Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller. It's quite a book and the author puts all elements together seamlessly.

  8. Kathy D.: Grisham is one of my favourite authors of legal mysteries.

    I have read Martini and enjoyed his books but have not read any in some time.

    I have added Norwegian by Night to the TBP (To Be Purchased) list.

  9. And add The Wrong Man to your TBR list, too. I'm reading it now due to the nomination for this prize and its mention here.

    It's a well-thought out plot, and Jason Kolrich, the protagonist, is witty as well as wise.

  10. Kathy D.: Thanks for the recommendation. Looking at the TBR it will be awhile before I can look for The Wrong Man.

  11. Oh my gosh, The Wrong Man just gets better and better. Try not to wait too long. The courtroom goings on and Jason Kolarich's strategy and wit are so good.

  12. Kathy D.: Okay! You convinced me. I am going into Saskatoon. I will be going to the bookstores to look for a copy.

  13. Now, thanks for these nominations, I'm reading Defending Jacob. Maxine Clarke had strongly recommended this book, which I put on my TBR list and left it there.

    Then a friend read it and kept telling me to read it. Now I am reading it. It is riveting and both a legal thriller and a book of psychological suspense.

    It's also full of legal issues in Massachusetts and U.S. law. The protagonist is a district attorney whose son is on trial for murder. So the book contains several layers at once. It's not for those who want quick, formulaic reads. It's an intense read.

    It's good but I need breaks.

    You would probably enjoy it.

  14. Kathy D.: Thanks for another comment. I am thinking about Defending Jacob. After your comments on The Wrong Man I went searching in Saskatoon bookstores yesterday and found it!

  15. Good you found it.

    Now I'm again with legal mysteries. Just finished the German legal thriller with relevance to WWII -- The Collini Case.

    It tells a story and explores and exploses the laws; I practically fell over seeing who is protected from prosecution and as of when.

    And I've taken a suggestion, I think from you, to read Dead Peasants, which is relaxing and fun.

  16. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment.

    I am now reading The Wrong Man.

    I am interested in The Collini Case but when with the TBR piles covering half my desk.

    I wish I could say I recommended Dead Peasants but I have not read the book.

  17. Anyway, Dead Peasants, featuring a Texas millionaire lawyer who retires and then sets up a pro bono practice helping poor people in Fort Worth, Texas, is fun and good.

    The Collini Case is an education in itself about post-WWII prosecutions (or not) of German war criminals. It's by Ferdinand von Schirach, a German defense attorney whose grandfather was a Nazi war criminal.

    It's well-done and a shocker. The book was a nominee for the CWA Dagger.

  18. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. The hero of Dead Peasants certainly sounds like Morris Dees.