Stories of suspense, usually crime dramas, with an emphasis on lawyers and legal machinations.
A Thriller set in the legal world, with tension driven up both by action in the courtroom and outside of it. While there is some overlap with Law Procedurals, Legal Thrillers tend to differ both in style - they are Thrillers, after all - and content. The opposing lawyers in a traditional Law Procedural are seldom worse than Villainy Free Villains - after all, everyone, no matter how heinous, is entitled to a fair representation in court. But in a legal thriller, they're more likely to be criminal lawyers, with Jury and Witness Tampering, bribery, evidence falsification and sometimes even murder of the opposing side being common. Corrupt Corporate Executives, Politicians and Bureaucrats are common antagonists. Frequently the main plot will involve a civil lawsuit against an Evil Corporation, which spirals into criminal behavior as the corporation tries to stymie the suit through extra-judicial means. Often some sort of organized crime will be involved as well, typically supplying the Evil Corporation with muscle. The genre has older precedents, but became prominent in the 1980s with Scott Turow's novels, and reached its apogee in the 1990s with John Grisham, the best-known writer in the genre. The Other Wiki has a good list of notable legal thrillers not yet listed on this wiki. When the antagonist is a government official, the genre can overlap with the Political Thriller. Legal Thriller should be indexed under Thriller, The Courtroom Index, and Crime and Punishment Tropes. Sibling trope to Law Procedural and Courtroom Drama. (Is this a Sister Trope of Law Procedural, or a Sub-Trope?) (2016 update: How Did We Miss This One? I'm resurrecting and substantially rewriting this. Still needs work.) Needs More Examples!
- A Few Good Men is a Legal Thriller done military-style.
- Michael Clayton
- Rules of Engagement is another military-style Legal Thriller.
- Witness for the Prosecution
- John Grisham specializes in these.
- The Lincoln Lawyer series by Michael Connelly.
- Murder in the First
- Primal Fear
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney in its more dramatic courtroom scenes.
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