The cover blurb states, 'universally regarded as one of the classic courtroom novels', leading me to expect something good. And my expectations were definitely met - and more besides.
The main thrust of the story is that a soldier has shot a barman, after the barman had raped his wife. The soldier needs a defence lawyer, and so he calls on Paul Biegler, who needs to use his wits to defend what would seem to be a clear case of 'guilty'. The story follows Paul as he builds his case for the defence and later, follows the trial in court. There is a great deal of clever repartee and verbal sparring, which, I thoroughly enjoyed.
The backdrop is small town America in the 1950s - the book was published in 1958. This makes it a period piece, the story informed by the times in which it was written. I loved this, it was like stepping back in time, into a much slower more courteous world - and the language of the novel reflects this.
For me, this was a gem of a novel - I do hope that it stays in print.