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I enjoyed this book more than I have enjoyed many others in a long time. The blurbs about it are true. It deserves a much, much wider audience. Mr. Klempner and Mr. de Vries make a wonderful team. The plot of the book is complicated but you follow it easily because it is so entertaining. Briefly, the book concerns itself with the death penalty and the condition known as autism. A young black man named Boyd Davies has been convicted of a murder of a child, and sentenced to death in the state of Virginia. The protagonist of the book, a seriously enjoyable hero, is an 82 year old former judge named August Jorgenson. He is recruited by a group of people who work for a TV program, so that he will give the argument before the Supreme Court which would be the last step for Mr. Davies before the lethal injection. Judge Jorgenson proves to be a fiercely independent, stubborn, principled man who eventually discovers that the TV people have cooked up a scheme so repulsive and Machiavellian that he refuses to participate in it. His life becomes endangered, as the TV people are ruthless in their pursuit of Nielsen ratings, willing to actually sacrifice Mr. Davies' life in order to accomplish their goal. The book will educate you about what autism is and is not. The issue of whether or not Boyd can understand the relationship between the crime and the likely punishment is one that you can really get your mind around. Boyd turns out to have an idiot-savant skill: he draws so brilliantly that his drawings are often mistaken for photographs. He does not speak, at all. We meet quite a cast of characters around Virginia and South Carolina as Judge Jorgensen streaks around the area trying desperately, against a harsh deadline, to find some evidence that might, on a very long shot, prove that Boyd is actually innocent of the crime. The book is written with great feeling for not only the legal issues involved but also for the characters that the author has created and placed in search of a resolution to these tough questions. The narrator, Mr. de Vries, is just excellent. He, too has great feelings for the story and for the people, and the entire book is full of his abilities to articulate the voices of these people and the ambience of the barrier island on which August lives, in a very old, rusty lighthouse. His only roommate is Jake, his dog. August has no modern conveniences of any kind: no landline or cell phone, no TV or radio, no computer, no access to the internet, etc. He lives a full life despite the absence of all of these things that we have become so utterly dependent upon. August may be 82, but I truly hope that there is a sequel to this book. An 88 year old hero!
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
This is a wonderful legal suspense mystery. I've never heard of Joseph T. Klempner before but am so very glad I did!
Start with a retired reclusive judge (August Jorgenson) living off of the Barrier Islands in South Carolina. He is anti capital punishment, add a woman who is a television personality for a reality trial tv show. Jorgenson is convinced to come out of retirement to represent before the Supreme Court a nonverbal autistic African American man who is sentenced to death. He's convinced that both he and the reps from the tv show are on the same side. Jorgenson decides to do some investigating on his own. He learns the truth of what happened the day an 11 year old girl lost her life. When he tries to tell Jessica Woodruff (trial tv anchor) he finds out that she already knows. Jorgenson comes to the horrible realization that they each have a drastically different means to the end and because of this his own life may be on the line if he's not willing to cooperate.
I would really like to say more but this book is much too good to give away any more. This author's style reminds me very much of earlier John Grisham books.
David de Vries does an excellent job narrating.
This book has my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
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17 of 21 people found this review helpful