Jury of One

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Published by: Berkley
Release Date: March 1, 2005
Pages: 432
ISBN13: 978-0425201459



Shelly Trotter, the daughter of the state’s governor and a children’s-rights advocate, is thrust into a world in which she’s completely unschooled-the criminal court. The defendant is a seventeen-year-old former client who is accused of killing a cop. Shelly soon learns that this boy was caught in the middle of an undercover operation to trap corrupt officers. But what was his role in the sting? The target or the bait? And what does the prosecution really have against him?

Then comes the shocker: The kid says he is the son she gave up in a private adoption kept hush-hush by her father, who had political ambitions beyond their small town. As the evidence mounts, Shelly finds that nothing—not legal ethics, not her father’s reelection campaign—will stop her from keeping her son off death row—for with this client, she is truly a jury of one.



“Chicago lawyer and political insider David Ellis certainly knows how to plot up a storm. As he did in Line of Vision (which won him an Edgar for best first mystery) and Life Sentence, he powers his latest legal thriller with a narrative engine that smashes through the barriers of coincidence and credulity, leaving readers breathless at the author’s audacity.

Not only is Shelly Trotter—a 35-year-old lawyer working for a non-profit firm as an advocate for children in trouble—the daughter of the current, conservative governor of the novel’s unspecified state, but she also turns out to be the birth mother of a 17-year-old boy charged with killing a police officer. That Ellis can make both of these rather large pieces of emotional baggage work inside an already complicated story is a tribute to his cleverness and compassion.

Trotter’s only chance of saving the boy she put up for adoption as a baby after she was raped at 17 is to take on his defense herself—to prove he was part of a federal sting operation against drug-dealing cops. But there are several problems: Trotter has never worked an adult criminal trial, and her father, who used up lots of political points covering up the rape and adoption, is afraid that escaping ghosts might haunt his political present.

As expected from past Ellis performances, there is a beautifully sustained trial sequence, with several surprises. But what really makes his third book so impressive are the human challenges he sets up and conquers.”
—Chicago Tribune

“Edgar Award winner Ellis keeps the suspense bubbling at its highest peak. This first-class legal thriller is strongly recommended where good writing, excellent character development, and exceptional trial strategies are appreciated.”
—Library Journal, starred review

“Ellis shows that among would-be Grishams and Turows, he’s a breakaway talent.”
—Hollywood Reporter

“A trial that’s packed with surprise and significance, as Ellis tightens, then ties up, a solid case. Unlike the mob of hacks who want to be the next Grisham, Ellis is never glib, hackneyed, or tiresome. In style, plot, and character, he engages and entertains.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“A steady stream of twists and complications. A stunning Perry Mason-style courtroom shocker will knock readers right out of their seats. After they pick themselves up off the floor, the ensuing fast and furious revelations will have them flying through the final pages.”
—Publishers Weekly

“The twists in this incredible superb legal thriller are amazing, yet each one feels right though the megatons are at hydrogen-bomb level revelations. That along with a solid cast makes for a terrific terse tale that will make David Ellis a household name. Even the street punks come across as real making a Jury of One the must sub-genre read of the year so far.”