Set in 1987 in San Francisco, The 7th Canon features lawyer Peter Donley, who undertakes his first criminal case when Father Thomas Martin is arrested for the murder of a teenager found dead at the boys' shelter Martin founded and operates. In the normal course of events, Donley's uncle Lou would be representing the Father, but he is in the hospital after suffering a severe stroke and heart attack. When Father Martin pleads not guilty to the murder, Donely finds himself believing in his client's innocence and sets out to prove someone else is guilty. He joins forces with former police detective Frank Ross, and the two of them go after the truth. Ruthless men with interests in the case intend to stop them.
Dugoni is a talented thriller writer. The novel moves quickly, with lots of physical action, suspense, and courtroom drama and legal maneuvering. The family backgrounds of both Ross and Donely contribute to the complexity of the novel and generate sympathy for the characters. It is especially interesting to read a book set in 1987 when cellphones, computers and the Internet make investigating more difficult and characters cannot call for help the moment they face danger. It's also fun when one of the minor characters predicts the importance of technology.