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.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The 2014 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction Shortlist

Yesterday the American Bar Association Journal and the University of Alabama Law School announced the shortlist for the 2014 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

The finalists are:

1.) Ronald H. Balson for Once We Were Brothers;

2.) John Grisham for Sycamore Row; and,

3.) Elizabeth Strout for The Burgess Boys.

For what seems like the first time this year I have read a book on the shortlist for a major crime fiction prize. I read Sycamore Road at the beginning of the year. I consider it excellent legal fiction.

I have not read any books by either Balson or Strout.

Information on the books can be found on the ABA Journal announcing the shortlist at http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/2014_harper_lee_voting. As with previous years readers of the Journal can help pick the winner by voting online at the Journal. The public, through the book attracting the most votes, effectively becomes a 6th selector whose vote is recognized as an equal vote to each of the selection committee members.

The members of the selection committee this year are sports columnist, ESPN panelist and University of Maryland professor, Kevin Blackistone; New York Times bestselling author, Fannie Flagg; partner at Kornstein, Veisz, Wexler & Pollard and former Harper Lee panelist, Dan Kornstein; journalist, lawyer and Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times, Adam Liptak; and journalist, author and former Harper Lee panelist, Marianne Szegedy-Maszak.

The previous winners are Grisham, Michael Connelly and Paul Goldstein.

Strout becomes the first woman author to be on a shortlist for the Prize.

I read all the books on last year’s shortlist and agree that Goldstein’s book, Havana Requiem, was the best of the trio. I hope to read Once We Were Brothers and The Burgess Boys before the winning book is announced.

The Prize will be presented on August 28 in Washington as a part of the Library of Congress National Book Festival.


  1. Interesting list. Thanks for sharing Bill. Have heard good things about Sycamore Row, though I'm not a rabid John Grisham fan (loved BLEACHERS, a non-legal thriller of his), even as an ex-lawyer myself. I can't wait for the next John Hart novel - he's my favourite lawyer-turned writer.

    1. Craig: Thanks for the comment. Grisham is not always predictable in quality but Sycamore Row back in his native Mississippi is an exceptional book. I have only read one of Hart's books. I am going to have to look for more of them.

  2. Concur on the Grisham, couldn't put it down, good in all ways. Educational even, but written to appeal to a mass audience.

    Keep meaning to read Strout's book but haven't had time, and never heard of Balson's.

    1. Kathy D.: I also found myself irresistibly drawn along once I started Sycamore Row.

  3. Bill - Thanks for this announcement. It'll be very interesting to see who wins this year.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I wonder if the trend will continue of a different author from the previous winners being this year's winner.

  4. Bill, I plan to read "Sycamore Row" in the very near future as part of my aim to read more contemporary fiction than I did in the past.

    1. Prashant: I think you will be glad you read Sycamore Row and I look forward to your review.

  5. Thanks for sharing this list. I want to read The Burgess Boys.