Truth Be Veiled: A Justin Steele Murder Case

Coffeetown’s newest release, Truth Be Veiled (242 pp, $16.95/paper, $24.95/cloth, ISBN: 978-1-60381-080-7), by Joel Cohen and Carla T. Main, is a fascinating examination of legal ethics as well as a compelling page-turner about a complex murder case.


Available in Kindle.

A woman falls from her fifteenth-story window … was she pushed? Her husband, a high profile executive, stands accused of the murder. He is counting on renowned criminal lawyer Justin Steele to clear his name. But Justin suspects there is more to the story. What is the truth in this case, and how far does the law and personal conscience allow it to be concealed—or revealed—so Justin can win an acquittal? Truth Be Veiled is a riveting play-by-play of the process leading up to trial, told by a criminal lawyer and master storyteller.

“The original version of this novel was conceived to teach law students about ethics,” Cohen says.  “However, folks, including students, were so enthusiastic, I decided to enlist Carla’s help and turn it into a bona fide murder mystery.  It’s difficult for the layperson to imagine how easily the wheels of justice can get mired in technical issues and layers of truth and falsehood. Anyone who cares about justice and the law will hopefully be intrigued by an insider’s account.”

Truth Be Veiled was a pleasure to work on,” says Main. “Joel and I have known each other since I was a summer associate at Stroock, some 25 years ago. So when he explained this project to me, I was thrilled to be a part of its development. The challenge was to create a plot that turns on how the characters confront and deal with the law in all their varied roles as advocate, defendant and investigator.”

Joel Cohen, a former prosecutor, practices white-collar criminal defense at New York’s Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, LLP. He teaches legal ethics at Fordham Law School, lectures widely and authors columns on law and legal ethics for the New York Law Journal and

Carla T. Main is an award-winning legal journalist who writes about law and society. She is the author of Bulldozed (Encounter Books, 2007), an examination of the impact of eminent domain development on communities.

To obtain a discussion/teaching guide for this book, please contact

Truth Be Veiled is available in Kindle ($6.95) and print editions on,,, and  It can also be ordered through Bookstores will soon be able to order hardcover and paperback editions through the Baker and Taylor catalog. In the meantime, please contact

Praise for Truth Be Veiled

“Truth Be Veiled is a compelling journey of a criminal defense lawyer with a client accused of murder. Author Joel Cohen navigates this dangerous terrain of truth, morals and legal ethics brilliantly. We know, because he’s been there.”

—Nicholas Pileggi, author of many books and screenplays, including Goodfellas (Wiseguys) and Casino

Truth Be Veiled takes legal ethics out of the textbooks and into the real world, illustrating the subtle conflicts between morals and ethics in criminal defense work.  The reader is left to wonder, like the book’s hero, lawyer Justin Steele, whether the truth matters in our criminal justice system.”

—Barry Scheck, co-director of The Innocence Project at The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

“In the context of a highly readable legal thriller, Joel Cohen plumbs the depths of ethical issues that lie at the core of every criminal defense practice but are rarely discussed or debated.”

—Gerald L. Shargel, New York Criminal Defense Lawyer and Professor at Brooklyn Law School

“The fictional Justin Steele, created by criminal defense attorney and adjunct law professor Joel Cohen, uses the Socratic Method to deftly guide his young associate through the perilous intersections of law, morality and ethics. This fascinating murder mystery will have readers guessing all the way to the end.

“While a great read for anyone, it is a ‘must read’ for those starting a career in criminal justice, either as prosecutor or defense attorney.”

—Charles J. Hynes is the District Attorney of Kings County, New York, and author of the novel, Triple Homicide (St. Martin’s Press, 2007)

Truth Be Veiled sheds light on what people in daily contact with our criminal justice system know: that it often fails in ways that cause individual suffering beyond belief, and sometimes even utterly wrongful convictions. Joel Cohen shines in the telling of the defense of George Robbins and his counselor, Justin Steele, and movingly portrays how a defendant feels when he is on trial for murder.”

—Martin H. Tankleff, now working as a paralegal in a New York law firm after serving more than 17 years in New York prisons after his wrongful conviction

Keep reading for an excerpt:

George heard a thud and a sickening cracking sound, as if someone far away had broken a very large egg. Adrianna lay in the alleyway below. All was quiet. She was dead.

George had stood by the window, transfixed. All around him the scene erupted into chaos. The police arrived, and an ambulance. Their neighbor, Ruth Munsell—the building busybody—had watched the tragedy unfold. Or at least she said so, since everyone knew that the view from her apartment into the Robbins’ was obstructed. Mrs. Munsell’s apartment was across the air shaft from theirs and one floor up. And thank Heaven for that, George had often thought, or she would have made watching Adrianna and him a full-time hobby.

Mrs. Munsell told the police: “George Robbins had his hands on his wife as she fell from the window.” … She told the detectives that she heard a man and a woman screaming from the direction of the Robbins’ apartment just before Adrianna fell. She wouldn’t budge from this statement.

The police found no outward sign that Adrianna was doing anything with the plant—no gardening tools, no dirt on her hands, nothing to back up George’s version of the events. They asked George if Adrianna suffered from vertigo. He answered them honestly: “No.” And then they asked him the oddest question. ‘How many flower pots did you keep on the ledge?’ Why would anyone care about such a thing at a time like that? he wondered.

No one else saw the fall or heard her crash to the ground.

Comments are closed.