Teresa Paget is a lawyer who has dedicated her professional life to assisting criminals who have been accused of capital crimes. This story involves Rennell Price, an arguably mentally retarded black youth on death row. An Asian girl was murdered in a horrific sex crime in the house where Rennell and his brother lived. A terrorized neighbor from across the street identifies both of the brothers as having accosted the girl and forcing her into the house where she was murdered. Teresa begins to try to understand the accused inmate and his circumstances in life. Because of gross misconduct on the part of the cocaine-addicted trial lawyer, a completely insufficient defense during the trial, and self-serving testimony of other potential perpetrators, Teresa risks serious breeches in her own family's fragile structure to correct this miscarriage of justice.
This book is an intriguing, seemingly truthful look at the capricious nature of the death penalty in the United States. Written from an obviously anti-death penalty point of view, Mr. Patterson nevertheless tries to fairly present both sides of the argument. His fictional characters adopt some of the attitudes and prejudices of current and former political leaders. Although the book might be considered a bit skewed, it certainly maintains a nail-biting urgency to the final page.
Reviewed by ks, 3/05. Other reviews by ks.