David Johnson asked this question the other day on the rec.arts mystery group: There are great heaping huge mounds of American lawyer books (which comprise the most common subgenre of mystery these days, I think). Are there any British lawyer books (not counting Witness for the Prosecution)?
Over the next few days, answers from the group included:
The Rumpole series by John Mortimer (not sure these charming tales count as “mystery fiction” though — they started out as a TV series, so long ago that I remember watching it).
Sarah Cauldwell’s Hilary Tamar series (gender of protagonist never revealed).
The Helen West and Sarah Fortune series by Frances Fyfield (which I recommend, the Helen Wests slightly more than the Sarah Fortunes, but only marginally. The two characters feature in each others’ series).
Natasha Cooper’s Trish Maguire books (I’ve read one, which I liked a lot).
Martin Edwards’s Harry Devlin novels. The older titles are not currently in print, but he’s just written a new book in the series after taking a break from it, Waterloo Sunset, which is very good indeed.
The remaining recommendations are from earlier times.
The Martin Hewitt short stories by Arthur Morrison, apparently published in the Strand magazine “as a sort of contrast to Sherlock Holmes”, writes Dave from Toronto, “(believe it or not there were people in Victorian times who did not like the eccentricities of Holmes). Hewitt was a lawyer with a keen analytical mind like Holmes but there the resemblance ended – Hewitt was short and stocky, very jovial and always co-operated with the police”. Dave points to a link at Project Gutenberg where the stories can be read free online.
Edmund Crispin wrote some delightful books featuring Oxford don Gervase Fen, but I don’t recall them as being mainly “legal”.
Cyril Hare certainly wrote legal mysteries in the 1940s and 50s.
Michael Gilbert wrote many crime and mystery books in a range of genres, some of which I’ve read many years ago, including Smallbone Deceased, nominated here.
Sara Woods wrote 53 books featuring Antony Maitland, barrister. The author’s real name was Lana Hutton Bowen-Judd, and she also wrote under other pseudonyms.