This is the third book in Bailey’s series featuring Tom McMurtrie and Rick Drake. Since Bailey’s character development is as strong as his scenic descriptions, by this time I was as familiar with McMurtrie’s aches and pains as I am with my own. While there are definitely references throughout the book of the previous two plot-lines, The Last Trial can easily stand on its own.
Jack Willistone, recently released from prison, is found dead on the banks of the Black Warrior River. When every bit of evidence points to Wilma Newton, a local woman whose life was ruined because of Willistone, district attorney Powell Conrad loses no time in bringing her in for questioning. He tries to contact his mentor, McMurtrie for advise, only to find McMurtrie has decided to represent Wilma in what seems like an open and shut case.
Taking on the case was not an easy call for McMurtrie, but he thinks he owes her something because of a previous case, and he also believes she is innocent. Since his partner, Drake, is tied up with personal business, he turns to his friend Bocephus Haynes for help. Bo is an attorney who has been temporarily suspended (another story from a previous novel) and agrees to act as McMurtrie’s investigator. Bailey does a good job high-lighting the troubles facing a black man in the Deep South in his descriptions of Bo’s experiences in this book as well as the previous two books.
As the story progresses McMurtrie finds other possible suspects as he interviews a monster he helped to incarcerate as well as witnesses who suddenly disappear. I was lucky to happen upon Bailey’s first book several years ago, and he quickly became one of my go to authors. This book certainly keeps him on that list.
Publisher - Thomas & Mercer
Date of Publication - May 6, 2018