John Gregory Dunne
John Gregory Dunne’s last novel—he died in December 2003—is a crackling political thriller cum murder mystery about events surrounding a celebrity trial in small Midwestern town. It’s populated by fascinating characters—a defense lawyer with a secret past, a self-doubting prosecutor married to a glamorous, right-wing congresswoman, a sociopathic 17-year-old supermodel and the narrator, a gay former state’s attorney turned defense counsel—mouthing some of the cleverest dialogue ever put in print. There’s a good yarn, too, and it propels the story forward in smart fashion, but not before Dunne pokes fun and not a few knives at self-serving politicians, the cult of celebrity, venal cops and a corrupt prison system. It’s a shame he’s no longer around to write more books as good as this one.