Mouse in the Box
by Lewis Allan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / Legal
Print Length: 388 pages
Reviewed by Tomi Alo
A compelling thriller about the cracks in the criminal justice system
Mouse In the Box follows Mason Mitchell, a criminal defense attorney, as he faces some challenging cases in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While he firmly believes in upholding the principles of justice, defending everyone, and considering them innocent until proven guilty, he recognizes how flawed and biased the justice system can be to the defendant. And how the background or past circumstances of the accused can prevent them from getting a fair trial.
After taking on one of the biggest cases in Milwaukee, Mason is thrown in the midst of dangerous criminals, racial tension, corrupt cops, and murders. Even though Mason knows his client is innocent, will he be able to convince the predisposed judge and jury to see the same without reasonable doubt? And how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice?
Mouse In the Box takes its reader on an immersive journey through the criminal justice system and expounds on the realities of injustice. Itinspires a number of thought-provoking discussions on the moral dilemmas often associated with it, such as why do criminal lawyers defend criminals even when they, sometimes, know they are guilty?
“A foundational principle of our system is that anyone accused of a crime has the right to a vigorous defense. No matter what a defendant is accused of, no matter how bad, it is my duty to defend them.”
While Mouse In the Box presents various scenarios where the expertise of a criminal defense lawyer is essential, the novel revolves mainly around two cases.
First is the case of Michael Key, a Black high school football coach accused of killing his wife, and the second case is of Lori Wells, a young woman accused of stabbing her husband.
Michael Key’s case does a great job of covering the racial biases and prejudices that can influence legal proceedings. I love how Mason takes up Michael’s case despite all the odds being stacked against him. His case and others, like Lori’s, is enough to reinforce the main reason criminal defense lawyers do what they do. No matter how systematic the legal process is, there are still people like Michael who are in danger of being treated unfairly by the same law that swears to protect them. And yes, there may be a few real guilty offenders that will slip through the cracks, but too often an innocent person is wrongfully sentenced.
“It’s far better for fifty guilty people to go free than for one innocent person to be robbed of their freedom.”
Another aspect I enjoyed about this book is the author’s writing style. It is easy to read and rich with a wide range of criminology terms that readers could learn from. With each word, the author paints a powerful portrayal of characters’ emotions, description, and story setting (mainly the courtroom). With Lewis Allan at the helm, it’s near impossible to put this novel down.
The only issue I have is with its sheer number of characters and cases. The novel introduces a bunch of them early on, following Mason’s day to day activities as a criminal defense attorney. Unfortunately, this can get somewhat overwhelming and can be difficult to keep up with all the names and minor cases.
Overall, Mouse In the Box is a well-crafted legal thriller that sheds light on complex societal issues and offers a deep understanding of how the justice system both works and doesn’t.
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