“My life as a probate lawyer wasn’t supposed to include car chases or running down dark alleys after midnight or murder.”

This is not the opening line for Una Tiers’ “Judge vs. Nuts” but it just as well could have been.  Fiona Gavelle, fresh out of law school and fresh out of husbands, works from a rented space in a law office in Chicago, where she dreams of fame and fortune.  Or at least a case she can call her own.

Referred to her by a judge acquaintance, the family of Judge Laslo King wants his estate and will taken care of immediately.  Fiona can do that; she’s a probate lawyer, and that is what they do.  But problems surface when questions do not have answers.

Enter Detective David Giovanni, who reveals to Fiona that Judge King was murdered.  Suddenly she is solving a murder case, using her knowledge of the courts and court procedure to help David bring a killer to justice.  The inheritors, the judges, attorneys, and one Claude Eng continue to get in the way, but in the end, the murderer is found out—and it’s no one anyone might have suspected.

Ms. Tiers’ book is a very enjoyable read.  I might add, very informative as well.  There is a lot of background played out in the courts and the law offices; it’s obvious Ms. Tiers did some real research for her story.  But it isn’t dry information; it’s often very funny.  The author shows real respect for her readers and her characters, and I for one appreciate that a lot.

There are times when the storyline somewhat meanders, but so does a garden path, and I’ve yet to dislike one of those.   Her protagonist, Fiona, talks about “red herrings”, false information designed to lead her on the wrong path.  I do believe Una Tiers used the entire book as a “red herring”.  The very title, “Judge vs. Nuts”; I assumed it was a story about the crazies that the legal system has to deal with.  And, in a way, it was.  But it was the last quarter of the book that told the real tale.  The storyline, like all good mysteries, throws a lot of false turns into the reader’s way, but this makes the book all that more fun. 

Never dry, constantly moving, filled with great, well-thought-out characters, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries, and who wouldn’t mind learning a bit about the judicial process as well. 

Oh—the prologue, I need to mention that.  Read it, remember it, and refer back to it on occasion.  You’ll see what I mean.




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