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A Lincoln Navigator carries three well-dressed people through the barren New Jersey salt flats. The trip is uncomfortable but necessary. Their target has no phone, certainly no email, and never answers his mail. But August Jorgenson is no country bumpkin. Before retiring, he was one of the most famous judges in the country, and only opinions like his fierce opposition to the death penalty kept him from a seat on the Supreme Court.
Now his visitors, from a reality show called Trial TV, have come to enlist his aid. They are excited about an idea they have that promises to strike a serious blow against the death penalty (and boost their ratings past those of Court TV).
The judge agrees to help. But as he digs into the facts of the case he becomes their enemy - an enemy who must be removed as a serious threat to their plans.
When his first novel, Felony Murder, was published, Publishers Weekly called Klempner "a writer to watch." Now, Klempner is better than ever - that rare novelist with both an insider's knowledge of the world he writes about, and a talent for intelligent, compelling storytelling.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Richard Delman on 12-11-17
A great book. Great in many ways. I loved it.
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
By ScottG on 04-16-18
Dissertation on Autism with political bias
I read books to get away from the sometimes petty often vicious real world and political differences. It truly grates on my last nerve to hear people belittle and demonize others of differing opinions. That goes double if they do it in a spineless and covert way, unwilling to stand up and admit they are bent and have no intent of being fair. Agree with me, you’re the hero, disagree or even fail to agree, and you are the demon. This book sounded like a promise of an interesting legal battle. And to be fair, there may be one, in the ½ I didn’t read (listen to).
You do not have to be liberal or conservative to think that executing a person of some diminished capacity is wrong (or that it is just wrong, period). You do not need to be conservative or liberal to believe that there are varying degrees of diminished capacity and no clear line as to where the death penalty is immoral. This author would have everyone believe that Liberals are ALL against the death penalty and ALL are compassionate and care about those with impairments and disabilities. On the other hand, Conservatives are blood thirsty devils (Justices Rhenquist, Scalia, and Thomas for this story) devoid of compassion and rational thought anxious to see someone, anyone, convicted and hanged. It is a perpetual theme but cowardly. It is written in a sly way through slanted barbs rather than direct statements. At one point there is a mention of the Country having “…just suffered through an ‘actor becoming president’…” and how that had affected death penalty cases and the nation in terrible ways. Of course, that actor is President Reagan. It takes swipes at conservative Justices and individuals while lauding liberals or at least implying all attempts toward good and compassion are the work of Liberals.
To make the book less exciting, endless paragraphs are dedicated to descriptions and detailed essay style monologues about Autism that would make medical texts proud. I love learning, and I truly love when an author explains and educates a reader to provide background and insight into a main plot or idea in a book. It is always necessary to have a little of it as no one can appreciate or understand the story without it. And as serious and important as understanding Autism and other afflictions that adversely impact people’s lives is, I did NOT purchase this book to be lectured or learn about Autism. I also did not buy it because I was hoping to discover Mr. Klempner’s political opinions and biases. I wanted a good story about legal wrangling and “who done it” intrigue. Instead I got the author lecturing me and hiding behind the guise of a novel. If you are looking form more information on Autism and how a liberal sees the legal system, this is likely a good book for you. If you do not like thinly veiled insults of differing opinions, maybe not so much.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful