Defending Britta Stein ~ by Ronald H. Balson

Chicago-based attorney Catherine Lockhart is contacted by her former boss about a case in which he has already compromised himself by discussing it with Emma Fish­er, his young employee.  Emma is involved because of her 92-year old grandmother, Britta Stein. It seems that Stein was caught on video tape spray-painting defamatory graffiti on an exterior wall of a local restaurant owned by one Ola Henryks’, a client of Lockhart’s former boss.   Britta scrawled that Henryks, a highly regarded Chicagoan,  was a Nazi collaborator, an informant, a traitor, a liar, etc.   

Defending Britta Stein
By Ronald B. Balson 2021/ (346 pages)
Read by Gabra Zackman 11h 45m
Rating:8 -B+ / historical legal thriller

So Britta is arrested for her deeds which were captured on video.  SHeldon Sparks, Henryks’ lawyer loves television cameras so he’s out blabbing and filing defamation suits. It seems that Hendryks, a 92-year old Danish immigrant,  has more than the cost of cleaning off the paint in mind. Restitution would include restoring his good name as a WWII hero, not a Nazi traitor.   At her old boss’ request, but against her own better judgment, Catherine calls Stein’s granddaughter, Emma. 

Emma starts working as Catherine’s research assistant while Liam, her law partner and husband, stands by until he flies to Berlin for some discovery.  

Britta’s health is not strong, but she is determined to get her whole story told in full. She’s methodical and thorough and that slows everything down.  Meanwhile, Ola Henryks and his attorney are equally determined to either discount Britta’s story or keep it from being told. 

The plot, the subject matter,  and the characters are all very intense and the narrator matches the tone.  It’ll keep you reading!  I’m sure the history is accurate I didn’t know much about Denmark during WWII.  

It’s hard to categorize the novels of Ronald Balson. This series of 6 books so far is about a pair of lawyers in present day Chicago who work on cases which are based in historical 20th century struggles.  The Holocaust figures prominently,  but there’s one about Ireland’s “Troubles” and one involving Palestinian terrorists.  Sometimes these are considered historical fiction, sometimes legal thrillers filed under crime.  At Audible they’re usually called  World Literature but once as Women’s fiction.  I think I’d probably use historical fiction because the lawyers dig into the history of the crime and take it to court in the 21st century. 

Roland B Balson is a Chicago based attorney and professor as well as the  author of several award-winning books including the Liam Taggart and Catherine Lockhart series.  

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