The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Procedure, Vol I: Parts 1-3 is a thoroughly engaging, often very funny, and extremely well-thought-through guide to the theory and realpolitik of what the cops and prosecutors can and can't do in the process of fighting crime.
It's part of a growing body of excellent, accessible legal materials — for example, the unmissable Law of Superheroes, which uses examples from science fiction movies and comics to explain complex legal questions — that are aimed at bringing the law to life, transcending mere legal technicalities and making real the human and philosophical basis for the US legal system.
Criminal Procedure is an especially good subject for this treatment, as it hinges so much on questions that are very much in the news today, with word of mass-scale warrantless wiretapping, roadside immigration checkpoints, stop-and-frisk, and other critical incursions on the Fourth Amendment. In illustrating the procedural basis for "normal" police searching, Burney highlights just how extraordinary our present-day justice system has become, with two de facto systems: what the law-books say, and what the highly politicized surveillance, xenophobia, and racist measures enact.
The book is shot through with excellent video-game and nerd humor, and ends with a multi-page flowchart for search and seizure based on video-game maps that is nothing short of magnificent. Every law student — and everyone who cares about surveillance, searches, seizure and privacy — should read this book.
There are some exciting sequels in the works, too: CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; TORTS (Someone stop me from calling it "Torts Illustrated"); PROPERTY; CONTRACTS; and ADVANCED CRIMINAL PROCEDURE.