John Lescroart Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

John Lescroart has said that he wanted to create a detective looking for a sense of direction. In other words, the detective’s involvement in crime solving is inseparable from his maturation as a man. Dismas Hardy was the result: a man who has had several careers and is troubled about how to maintain a well-rounded family life. Hardy needs help and finds it in the form of Abe Glitsky, a homicide detective whose major failing is that he is all too sure about himself and his cases. In other words the two men need each other—Hardy supplying the doubt, Glitsky the confidence. Unlike in earlier two-man detective teams (Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin), there is no master/mentor relationship. Hardy solves crimes by asking endless questions while keeping his theories of what happened open to constant revision, whereas Glitsky tends to press his perception of what happened and who did it until all the facts fit or he has to start again with a different set of premises.

Thus this unusual duo upsets the conventional format of the crime story, allowing Lescroart to combine the police procedural (Glitsky) with the legal thriller (Hardy). The friendship of Hardy and Glitsky—in spite of the conflicting roles of defense attorney and homicide detective—injects a level of intensity and complexity that is unusual in crime fiction.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Anderson, Patrick. The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks, and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction. New York: Random House, 2007. Includes a short but informative section on Lescroart, comparing him to other writers of legal thrillers such as Scott Turow and John Grisham. Anderson concludes that Lescroart’s novels are just as entertaining as Grisham’s but more realistic, and that his strengths are characterization and his ability to “set legal battles in a believable world.” Several novels are discussed, especially The Motive. Anderson also supplies some important biographical details.

Lescroart, John. John Lescroart: Website of the Author. The author’s official Web site includes a biography emphasizing how Lescroart became a novelist, news about forthcoming novels, interviews, summaries of his books, compilations of his music, and a list of forthcoming appearances at bookstores and other book signings.

Pickard, Nancy, and Lynn Lott. Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path: The Journey from Frustration to Fulfillment. New York: Ballantine Books, 2003. Lescroart is interviewed about how he is able to continue writing novels. He describes his working methods, including writing several opening scenes, discarding them and beginning again, and searching for a way to write a better book than the last one.

White, Terry, ed. Justice Denoted: The Legal Thriller in American, British, and Continental Courtroom Literature. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2003. Detailed discussion of Lescroart’s novels. He is quoted as saying his work is closer to police procedurals than legal thrillers, and he names the writers who have influenced him (Hemingway and Lawrence Durrell, for example) and writers he admires, such as Elmore Leonard and John D. Macdonald.