Juror #3, By James Patterson and Nancy Allen

Eight stars

James Patterson collaborates with Nancy Allen to bring readers an exciting legal piece that will keep the questions coming until the final pages. Ruby Bozarth is a recent grad of Ole Miss Law School and has a desire to save the world. Hanging her shingle in a small town, she is used to defending misdemeanours and the like, most of which are simple cases. However, when a judge earmarks her to become the attorney of a local murder suspect, Ruby discovers that the law can be quite the beast. Darrien Summers is a waiter at the local country club and is summoned to a back room by text. When he arrives, he discovers the dead body of the woman he has secretly been seeing. What makes this scandalous in Mississippi is not that she is married, but that Summers is black and the victim is white. Cutting her teeth on all that is a murder defence, Ruby ends up working alongside the aunt of her former fiancé, a man she still cannot stomach having loved. While picking a jury, Ruby comes across a potential juror who seems to be acting very oddly. However, he makes it onto the panel and soon is captivated by the evidence in the Darrien Summers trial. Working her magic, Ruby inserts some doubt and hopes that she can win. However, something odd happens in the middle of the trial, involving that same Juror #3, which turns the case on its head. While Ruby tries to come to terms with the outcome, her aforementioned former flame finds himself in his own legal hot water and Ruby is thrust into her second major case in a year. Will she find a passion for the work of a criminal defence attorney or is this just one hell of a ride? Recommended for those who enjoy some of Patterson’s better collaborations and need a quick read to pass the time.

I quite enjoyed this one-off by Patterson and Allen, which worked well and seemed to get better with each passing chapter. Ruby Bozarth is that young lawyer who is as wet behind the ears as they come. However, her gumption and determination to do what is right seems to open a path towards a successful legal strategy. She trips and stumbles, but is always looking to better herself, rather than be the pompous woman that feels she can do no wrong. With a little backstory and much development throughout, the reader will likely grow to admire this Mississippi girl and all her quirks. The secondary characters work well, no matter their role in the piece, to pave the way towards an entertaining legal thriller that has a few twists few would expect. While not entirely traditional Patterson—super short chapters with a cliffhanger at each page turn—the story works well and the reader can remain engaged. Allen is to be applauded for keeping the story from turning into anything tepid, as I have found Patterson collaborations usually hinge on the second author to make or break the piece. What I did find interesting, though I debated keeping it out and allowing others to decide for themselves, is that this book almost acts as two BookShots in one—that clever Patterson project of short story writing—as the first case is completely divorced from the second, with that mystery juror firmly rooted in the early case. I waited and pondered why these two stories were pressed together, though I suppose others can chime in and offer their insights, after they have read the piece.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madam Allen, for an entertaining read. I hope you will work together again soon.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons