By a Jury of His Peers
Lori McLeod is a librarian with the Toronto Public Library.
Serge Tremblay is charged with the murder of Frank Lepine outside a
Montreal bar. Although found in possession of the gun that killed
Lepine, Tremblay enters a plea of not guilty. His young lawyer,
Marie-Lyse Lortie, is frustrated by her client’s refusal to discuss
anything about the night of the murder. Without Tremblay’s
cooperation, how can she possibly win her first murder trial?
While there are a few twists in this story, the plot is not driven by
the “whodunit” aspect of the crime. The author, an appeal court
judge, uses his extensive knowledge of courthouses, trials, and the
administration of Canadian law to good effect. Through the eyes of Mr.
Justice Samuel Berne, the trial judge in the Tremblay case, the reader
learns about the administration of justice. It is the insider’s view
of the dynamics of a trial—the selection of a jury, the questioning of
witnesses, closing arguments, the judge’s charge to the jury, and the
seemingly endless wait for a verdict—that makes Steinberg’s “novel
of crime and justice” interesting.