A former journalist and attorney, Steve Martini has combined both halves of his résumé into a successful franchise of legal thrillers, most of which star the attorney Paul Madriani. According to Vincent Bugliosi, “We unquestionably have a new literary lion in the fictional crime genre."
Writer-turned-lawyer-turned-writer, Steve Martini has established himself as a bankable literary star in the legal thriller genre. His titles, many starring that embattled esquire Paul Madriani, have taut, two-word titles: The List, The Judge, The Jury, The Attorney. And he gets raves for his taut plots as well. A Detroit Free Press reporter once confessed that when she accidentally left her plane ticket and Martini novel in an airport restroom, she frantically dropped out of line at the gate and ran back to the ladies room -- for the book.
Martini began his writing career as a reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal, a legal newspaper, where he covered the California statehouse in the early 1970s. He specifically went to work for a legal publication because he planned to practice law. And, after receiving his law degree from the University of the Pacific in northern California, he set aside his reporter's notebook for private practice.
On the side, he continued to write, and he published his first novel, The Simeon Chamber in 1988, in which an attorney and his client are endangered by their possession of what may be the diaries of Sir Francis Drake and are in a chase that takes them to San Simeon, the castle-style estate in California built by William Randolph Hearst.
In 1992, Martini published his second book, Compelling Evidence, a taut thriller that introduced his popular recurring character, attorney Paul Madriani. In the novel, Madriani defends his former mistress on charges that she murdered her husband, the man who just happened to be the senior partner at Madriani's law firm. A national bestseller, the novel won the author a critical and popular following. Since then, with few exceptions, Madriani has been the centerpiece of Martini's fiction, squaring off against slick politicians, politically ambitious prosecutors, and a compelling cast of flawed clients with agendas all their own.
Although Martini is now a full-time writer, his long tenure in the legal trenches has obviously left its mark. Nowhere do his legal thrillers ring more true than in the courtroom scenes, which have won the praise of the master himself, fellow attorney-turned-bestselling novelist John Grisham. In assessing his colleague's skills, Grisham has said: "Steve Martini is a master of the genre...He writes with the agile, episodic style of a lawyer quick on his feet and one step ahead of his many enemies."
Good To Know
Martini covered the Charles Manson murder case in the 1960s as a reporter for The Los Angeles Daily Journal, a legal newspaper.