Fox Is Framed (Mysterious, Apr.)
Smith’s Leo Maxwell series combines elements of the hardboiled PI novel with the legal thriller, alternating between the street and the courtroom; the first book, Bear Is Broken, won a Shamus Award. The relationship between Leo, his brain-damaged older brother, and their ex-con father is the heart of the series.
Priors Bear Is Broken (2013) and Lion Plays Rough (2014)
Evidence Smith’s third mystery squarely confronts Leo’s mother’s death, which was in the background in the earlier books. Although his father has been behind bars for more than 20 years for that murder, evidence of prosecutorial misconduct leads to his release and the reopening of that case.
Testimony “Too many writers make the mistake of treating courtroom scenes as mere exposition,” Smith says. “For the novel to work as a novel, these scenes have to dramatize the key conflicts of the story. The opening statement does not merely provide the reader with a summary of the facts—rather, it serves to dramatize the fears and passions of the lawyer who delivers it. Similarly, cross-examination needs to be not merely about what is said, but about the conflict between the lawyer’s desire to depict events one way and the witness’s desire to tell a different story, as well as the internal conflicts at stake for each.”
(For more from Smith, see “Why I Write,” page 40.)