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The #1 Lawyer


The #1 Lawyer

The writing machine that is James Patterson continues to roll forward with bestseller after bestseller. Add to that number his latest release, a stand-alone thriller that he wrote with Nancy Allen.

The action in THE #1 LAWYER begins immediately and never lets up. Stafford Lee Penney, Mississippi’s #1 Lawyer, is defending Daniel Caro, a well-respected OB/GYN who has been accused of having an affair with one of his patients, a young Black woman named Aurora Gates. When Caro tried to break things off with the now-pregnant Aurora, she was found floating in the nearby river, shot and brutalized, with both her and the fetus deceased.

"Just when you think you have this one figured out, there is another trick up Patterson and Allen’s sleeves to keep your head spinning right up until the end."

Making things worse for Penney is that District Attorney Henry Gordon-James is Aurora’s uncle and is obviously gunning for Caro’s scalp, despite Penney’s undefeated record in the courtroom. Good defense attorneys typically do not care if their clients are guilty or not; they are there to seek justice through the legal system and put the burden of proof squarely on the prosecution. That is definitely the case here, especially since Penney is feeling the pressure of defending a man whose father, Hiram Caro, was part of the Dixie Mafia and a local casino owner.

The DA is seeking a double-murder conviction. Penney’s two closest friends --- fellow attorney Mason Burnett and his personal private detective, Jenny Glaser --- are there for him throughout the proceedings. He also must deal with his crumbling marriage to Carrie Ann, from whom he is now separated. Add to that some visitations from Hiram’s heavies with threats that Penney step up his game to assure a win, and our hero is one extremely stressed-out individual.

The case is wild and intense with surprises around every corner that I will not give away here. When Jenny reports that there was a similar situation with the same M.O. involving another female patient of Caro’s, the elements of morals and ethics begin to prey upon the defense team. The verdict comes back as not guilty on all counts, and the doctor is a free man. However, readers will note that this occurs not even at the midway point of the novel, and more excitement is sure to follow.

Excitement is an understatement. Not long after the verdict has gone public, another tragedy rocks the area in the form of a three-victim body count. Aurora’s father breaks into Penney’s home and shoots Carrie Ann and the local high school football coach with whom she had been sleeping before turning the gun on himself. Penney is deeply affected by this, and his world goes off the tracks as he dives to the bottom of every liquor bottle he can find, resulting in Mason and Jenny getting him placed in expensive rehab.

When Penney comes out, he is clean but is no longer able to function as a full-time attorney. He ends up becoming a lifeguard for half the week and working the other half as a part-time (usually ineffective) defense attorney. Just when things couldn’t get much worse for him, his intern, Rue, is accused of killing Caro’s wife. Now, everything is reopened in both cases, and Penney suddenly finds himself fighting for his own life as suspicion in the triple homicide and this latest murder all seems to be implicating him as the central figure. Can the #1 Lawyer in Mississippi get his act together and defend himself in court against a DA looking to crucify him?

Patterson knows how to entertain readers, whether he is writing solo or with one of his many co-authors, and THE #1 LAWYER is no exception. Just when you think you have this one figured out, there is another trick up Patterson and Allen’s sleeves to keep your head spinning right up until the end.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on March 22, 2024

The #1 Lawyer
by James Patterson and Nancy Allen

  • Publication Date: March 18, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316499676
  • ISBN-13: 9780316499675