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Help with Legal Thriller Plot
Old 10-10-2018, 06:17 PM   #1
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Help with Legal Thriller Plot

I'm currently outlining a book that will come out next year. I got such good ideas on my threads concerning some subplots that I decided to get comments/suggestions on the main plot. Here it is:
Surfers see a man fall off a cliff into the Pacific Ocean. The ocean is stormy, and his body isn’t recovered. Suspicion falls on the man’s wife, Carly, who is deaf (caused by a disease in infancy). Carly turns to her twin brother, Garrett, who is an attorney (not deaf).

Security camera footage turns up which shows Carly having a discussion in sign language in a cafeteria. In it, Carly talks about how she’d like to kill her husband (he was apparently having an affair). The police arrest her. The trial process begins.

A crabber reports seeing the body out in the ocean. He noticed a prominent tattoo, but when he tried to bring the body on board using a boathook, the body sank.

A DNA analysis of the material on the boathook confirms that the body was that of the husband.

Parking lot security cam footage shows that Carly had also parked her car near the cliff (it’s close to their home).

Note that at points in the trial, Carly’s lipreading skills gives them an advantage.

Garrett suspects that the husband faked his death. The crabber seems to be lying. Garrett's investigator finds that he was in financial trouble and that he got a large sum of money just before the husband disappeared. The husband had had the tattoo recently. The DNA from the boathook isn’t degraded as would have been expected.

Garrett determines that the husband was having an affair. A search of the girlfriend’s house uncovers a heavy dummy (they planned to throw it off the cliff?).

It turns out that the husband had traveled to Havasu where he took lessons in cliff diving. Also, the husband was involved in some illegal activity.

Just when it seems clear (mid-trial) that the husband faked his death, his body washes up.

Garrett still sets out to suggest that the husband meant to fake his death, but died anyway (fell wrong or something). By bringing up this reasonable doubt, as well as the possibility that hubby’s criminal friends killed him, Carly is acquitted.

Carly later confesses to Garrett that her husband was indeed trying to fake his death when she saw him and went to him on the cliff. She was angry at him, and she pushed him while he was getting ready to jump. As a result, his fall was mistimed with regard to the ocean swell, and he died.
Thanks!
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:36 PM   #2
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Just delete the last paragraph! People here can have fun with the end of it.

No spoilers!! LOL!
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:42 PM   #3
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Agreed. Sequel the second paragraph into a second of the 3 part series.

This second book can focus on the up-and-coming atty and the old guard lead prosecutor and some high flying trial lawyers trying to debunk the latest "making a murderer" TV show plot as Carly finds herself the main suspect of the filming, trial and so forth.
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:07 PM   #4
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I like it. A lot. Don't mind that wife was acquitted as really got to dislike H during the course of the trial.
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:39 PM   #5
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Al, I want a link to your books please!
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Old 10-11-2018, 01:00 AM   #6
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Interesting!

You will have to explain why the prosecution went ahead with an indictment and trial without a body of the victim. Corpus delecti. The death of the murdered person is a key element of the crime. It is extremely rare to prosecute a homicide without it.

When the body turns up mid-trial, the court would have suspended the trial immediately. They would not have proceeded with the trial and risk an acquittal, which sets up double jeopardy.

This trial would have been months after the alleged crime, so the body's state of preservation or just its existence at all would indicate a much more recent death. Dead bodies in the ocean don't last that long.

I do not see what the heavy dummy adds to the conspiracy. They were going to toss it off, hoping someone would see the dummy falling but not see them lugging it out of a car and tossing it off?
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Old 10-11-2018, 06:22 PM   #7
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Okay, thanks!

You've given me some good points to work on, dt123.
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Old 10-11-2018, 06:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teacher Terry View Post
Al, I want a link to your books please!
Here you go: https://www.amazon.com/Al-Macy/e/B00HS3BO2U
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Don't skimp on the villainousness of your villains
Old 10-11-2018, 08:01 PM   #9
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Don't skimp on the villainousness of your villains

Don't have the widow confess voluntarily. Have Garrett deduce his sister's guilt and confront her with it after having gotten her off.

Something was strange about the surfers' evidence; the way the man fell was wrong for a jumper; he discovers the husband's life jacket was sabotaged to take on water or attract sharks via magnets. Whatever the clue is, it bothers Garrett throughout the story but he only realizes it the night before the closing arguments.

He goes through with his closing statement for the defense, even though he's convinced that the wife did the deed. When she's acquitted, he feels used, so he confronts her with the evidence. She admits both the murder and the conspiracy to embezzle the money, which she secretly stashed away before making sure the husband takes the fall.
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Old 10-12-2018, 07:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdlerth View Post
Don't have the widow confess voluntarily. Have Garrett deduce his sister's guilt and confront her with it after having gotten her off.

Something was strange about the surfers' evidence; the way the man fell was wrong for a jumper; he discovers the husband's life jacket was sabotaged to take on water or attract sharks via magnets. Whatever the clue is, it bothers Garrett throughout the story but he only realizes it the night before the closing arguments.

He goes through with his closing statement for the defense, even though he's convinced that the wife did the deed. When she's acquitted, he feels used, so he confronts her with the evidence. She admits both the murder and the conspiracy to embezzle the money, which she secretly stashed away before making sure the husband takes the fall.
First-rate ideas—I will be using some or all. I get the feeling you've read a lot of legal thrillers.
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Old 10-12-2018, 07:59 AM   #11
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Thought you might enjoy seeing the casting so far:

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Kindred spirit
Old 10-12-2018, 10:30 AM   #12
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Kindred spirit

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
I get the feeling you've read a lot of legal thrillers.
Only a hundred or so.

My dear wife, OTOH, has probably consumed a thousand. A much faster reader than I, she goes through about 50 books a year. I'm going to put her on to your link and get your works on the Kindle. I look forward to reading them all.

Good luck!
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I've got a great face for radio
Old 10-12-2018, 10:33 AM   #13
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I've got a great face for radio

Also, I notice that you've cast me as Angelo...

or, at least someone who looks exactly like what I would look like if I were good-looking!
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Old 10-12-2018, 11:17 AM   #14
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Al, they all sound good so just bought one of your kindle books so I can read it since we are on vacation.
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Old 11-28-2018, 05:45 PM   #15
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I finished the first draft today. It's fun to compare my initial idea with the final result. Much is the same, but my new ending is much better.

I took care of your suggestions and warnings, dt123.

I don't want to do a sequel because it was so much work to look up all the legal stuff and terminology.

For example, I almost made a mistake having an "Objection! Leading the witness" during a cross-examination. I later learned that leading is allowed during cross.

I'm sure I have a lot of other errors like that. A lot of editing yet to do.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 03-22-2019, 03:20 PM   #16
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I published this book, and it is now available on Amazon. Click here to see it.

It's interesting to see how many of the plot points above made it into the book, but don't worry about spoilers—the ending is different.

Thanks for the suggestions and comments! I've thanked some of you in the Acknowledgments section.
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