The 7th Canon – Robert Dugoni



In San Francisco’s seamy Tenderloin district, a teenage street hustler has been murdered in a shelter for boys. And the dedicated priest who runs the struggling home stands accused. But despite damning evidence that he’s a killer—and worse—Father Thomas Martin stands by his innocence. And attorney Peter Donley stands with him.

For three years Donley has cut his legal teeth in his uncle’s tiny, no-frills firm, where people come before profits. Just as Donley is poised to move on to a lucrative dream job, the shocking case lands in his lap, and he must put his future on hold while putting his courtroom skills to the test. But a ruthless DA seeking headlines and a brutal homicide cop bent on vengeance have their own agendas. Now, as he unearths the dirty secrets surrounding the case, Donley must risk his neck to save his client’s life…and expose the face of true evil.


I’ve been a fan of Robert Dugoni since I read the first Tracy Crosswhite novel (well actually I read the second one first but have since read the other two) I love his style of writing, his characters and the good storytelling.

The 7th Cannon is a little bit different. It is set in 1980s San Francisco.

Peter Donley is a young lawyer who has been working for his uncle’s firm for three years. The office is situated in the Tenderloin district of the city not far from the Court. It’s a very run down area and his uncle often doesn’t charge his poorer clients. Peter, who has a wife and child, is on the brink of leaving to start a more lucrative job. However his uncle is also the lawyer for the Archdiocese so when a teenage male prostitute is found dead in a Shelter for boys, Father Thomas Martin who runs the shelter, is charged with murder and the Archbishop brings the case to Peter’s Uncle Lou.

Peter is very much thrown in at the deep end when his uncle suffers a heart attack and is hospitalised. In these circumstances (defending someone accused of murder) it would probably be expected that Peter would pass the case on to a more experienced lawyer. However after a court appearance, he is officially becomes the priest’s lawyer. Of course the priest says he didn’t commit the crime despite the evidence obtained at the crime scene.

There seems to be something not quite right with the case from the start It’s as if someone is trying to rush the case through the Court before the defence can make their own enquiries. Is someone from high up pulling strings? Has evidence been planted or tampered with? Any potential witnesses (the boys within the shelter that night) had slipped back out onto the streets before they could be questioned by the Police. It is clear from the start that the detective who arrested Father Martin is violent and threatening but he is an interesting character with a back story.

The fact that the book is set in 1980s San Francisco in the seedy, run down Tenderloin District adds to the atmosphere.

I like the Peter character. He’s had a difficult upbringing and he’s had to look out for himself and grab his chances. His past still affects him. He has issues. He’s quite stubborn and tenacious. He doesn’t always make the right decisions but he’s a good character. There is a bit of depth to him and we do get to know a bit about his past.

This is a juicy crime/legal thriller which opens with quite a humorous court scene involving a parrot which gives us a glimpse of Peter Donley’s character and style then switches to the Boys Shelter where Father Thomas Martin is getting ready to lock up for the night. From then on it’s a rollercoaster of a tale that kept me entertained (and engrossed) right to the end….. and yes, it was one of those books that kept me reading until the early hours of the morning. Excellent storytelling!

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy.


The 7th Canon was published on 27 September 2016.  For reasons I won’t bore you with, I missed the fact I hadn’t published this post.  The good news is, if you are already a fan of Robert’s  the fourth book in the Tracey Crosswhite series, The Trapped Girl  is due out on 24 January 2017 – so not too long to wait!



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