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Anatomy of a Murder

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  882 ratings  ·  114 reviews
First published by St. Martin's in 1958, Robert Traver's Anatomy of a Murder immediately became the number-one bestseller in America, and was subsequently turned into the successful and now classic Otto Preminger film.It isis not only the most popular courtroom drama in American fiction, but one of the most popular novels of our time.A gripping tale of deceit, murder, and ...more
Paperback, 437 pages
Published March 15th 1983 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1958)
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Fifties Fiction Favorites
33rd out of 85 books — 68 voters
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Best Books of 1958
8th out of 69 books — 31 voters

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Community Reviews

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I can't believe I've never seen this book's movie; I love James Stewart. But at least this way I had no idea what was going to happen next in the book; that was nice. And, funnily enough, I still had the odd little perk of being able to hear Jimmy's voice in my head for a lot of the lines. (Oh, and Lee Remick is perfect as Laura Manion.) I have a *cough* irresistible impulse to rent the movie. Soon. (Actually, the dvd might be in my mailbox now; I just can't get to it because of ALL THE SNOW.)

A woman is raped at the gates of her neighborhood, but her cries for help register too late. By the time her husband, one Lieutenant Frederic Manion of the US Army, realizes what has transpired, the rapist has fled for the safety of the local bar...a bar which he owns. Undeterred, the Lieutenant enters the bar, calmly empties his Luger pistol into the man's chest, and leaves to deliver himself into the hands of the closest deputy-sheriff. Paul Biegler is a former prosecuting attorney with congr ...more
I randomly picked this up off my grandparent's bookshelf of leather-bound Franklin books. I have to say that not only did I thoroughly enjoy the well written story, but I learned more about our legal system than in both my high school and college civics classes combined. This will absolutely be a re-read!
A classic

I had heard of this novel most of my life, and I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about back in its day. I was fascinated by the approach it took to a murder, knowing guilt at the outset, then truly hoping that innocence by means of insanity would be proven. We learn a lot about human nature, especially our own, by the time we reach the end. Equally fascinating is to compare that time, 50 years ago, to today. Maybe it's best I waited so long.
one of the first courtroom procedural dramas. read it because it was one of the top 10 best sellers of 1958. it was really long and sometimes a little long-winded, but it was ground-breaking for a few reasons: it was a courtroom procedural, it addressed rape in a straight-forward manner; and it used the insanity defense.

in an era when everyone has seen a billion tv shows or movies about the legal system, some of the explanation and background in this book may feel cumbersome, but when it was wr
Debbie Maskus
Of course, I have seen the movie version with Jimmy Stewart, and will now need to revisit the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed this book by Robert Traver. The story vibrates with life and images. Laura Manion throbs with sexuality and her husband, Frederic Manion, simmers with jealousy. Paul Biegler, alias Polly, relishes spending all waking hours fishing, until he decides to defend Frederic Manion on a charge of murder. The story centers on the trial preparation and the trial. One of my favorite quo ...more
This is a wonderful courtroom thriller that set the stage for an entire genre of books in the past fifty years since its first publication. Most of you will probably recognize this book from the famous 1959 movie of the same title, inspired by the book, directed by Otto Preminger, and starring Jimmy Stewart as defense attorney Paul Biegler and George C. Scott as the prosecuting attorney Claude Dancer. For the most part, the plot remains the same from the movie: a bartender allegedly rapes an arm ...more
Sandra Stiles
John D. voelker was a Michigan Supreme Court Justice. He wrote Anatomy of a Murder based on a 1952 murder case, under the pen name of Robert Traver.
In this novel Paul Biegler is a lawyer who was formerly the prosecuting attorney. He takes on the case of an army lieutenant name Frederic Manion. He has been charged with shooting a bartender who his wife said raped her. Manion returns to the park after the murder and gives his gun to the park attendant and waits for the police.
The problem is, how d
Feb 18, 2011 Judy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of legal thrillers

At #2 on the 1958 bestseller list is this story of a murder and trial, set in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The legal thriller has become a staple in current fiction but was a fairly new genre in the 1950s. Compulsion, a 1957 bestseller by Meyer Levin was the beginning, but Levin had a journalism background while Robert Traver had been a practicing lawyer and judge.

The writing is clunky and wordy but Traver goes quite extensively into all aspects of preparing a case, selecti
Kathleen Hagen
Anatomy of a Murder, by Robert Traver, A. borrowed from Library of Congress, Library for the Blind.

This is one of the kind of classics I love-50’s, noire, and, in this case, written by a lawyer about a case, where you get to see all of his machinations, the court dialogue with his thoughts thrown in, and a case against a man who admits that he killed a bar owner, and which looks impossible for anyone to defend. Also a lot of the Upper Peninsula scenery and Lake Superior as a mysterious backgroun
Katie Abbott Harris
Based on a true story, this novel is the first of its kind in the genre of legal thrillers. It is set in a resort town in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan near Lake Superior, and the protagonist is Paul Bieglar (Polly), a former D.A. who is struggling to find his place in life with regards to his career and personal life. He is approached by Lt. Frederic Manion, who hires him to defend him against the charge of murder. Frederic admitted killing Barney Quill after Barney brutally raped and beat h ...more
Really enjoyed this book - though at nearly 400 pages it took me forever. I'm not the fastest reader, and I usually only read before falling to sleep at night, so I had to renew the book beyond the normal 3 weeks available from the library.

Grew to love the characters and hated to see the story end. Interesting look at a small town attorney thrust into a big murder trial. Lots of ups-and-downs, and very good, protracted, court room scenes.

As a law school grad, you have to love any book that talk
I have been wanting to read this book for a couple years, ever since a law school professor that I greatly respected recommended it. I am so glad that I finally got to read it. The true intrigue in thsi story is trying to figure out whether the guy truly did it or not. The best part about it is that it's not until the last few pages that you finally figure it out. Paul Biegler tries a great case and he is a wonderful character/attorney. This book is written very well and it gives you the behind ...more
Barry Bridges
This book really does not need another review but I must comment on the linguistic structure. Traver delivers straightforward literature; articulate, intelligent and expecting the same of his reader. His structures are immaculate, his word choice superb. The dry humor of his character delivers chuckle after chuckle. This book bumps into my top ten. Highly recommended as a stretch for younger readers - a challenge to read, with a dictionary close by. This is the kind of entertainment that is diff ...more
I read this book right before starting law school. This is a great courtroom thriller because not only is the story interesting, but you are included in the formulation of the courtroom strategy. I especially like the surprise twist at the end.

I also recommend the movie adaptation, starring Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remick, and George C. Scott. A bonus is the musical score by Duke Ellington, who also makes an appearance. A phenomenal film.
Excellent. Read it with an old-fashioned, not too fruity, made with good white-vest whiskey.

Traver/Voelker managed to both give me more respect for both psychiatrists and lawyers and make me incredibly homesick for the Upper Peninsula. But, like all the best stories, ANATOMY is about people, their imperfections, and the lies and truths that happen in everyday life.

Voelker showed a fair amount of disrespect for women and Native Americans - no more than was normal in the late 1950s in America, but
It was interesting, and definitely edgy for 1958, but it was written in this pedantic, good old boys, kind of style that drive me mad. If you like courtroom drama, AND you don't mind a man's man type style... and you're not too hung up on getting to the story quickly, this will be a great book to read. If any of those things annoy you, stay away.
Edward Covington
A must read for those in the field of law- but anyone would enjoy this book. Great characters and language, plus some twists that are far from predictable. The anti-Grisham.
Antonina Sh
No special turns of the plot, no unexpected twists, but solid detective writing, and if you are passionate about lawyers' work, this could be a hit.
Amber Foo
I vastly admired Mr Traver's sometimes-subtle-othertimes-obnoxious jabs with these 'lawyer terms'. It amused me to no ends and I positively chuckled at the prosecution and defense exchanges with each other. For me the best part of Mr Traver's writing is that there is no over-glorification of the main character's lifestyle and courtroom performance. I have read too many of Grisham's portrayal of such lawyers, and it greatly bothers me because being one myself, life has not always been as easy as ...more
Written by a man who knows his stuff - law, that is! Good story. Better than a Grisham novel.
Apr 17, 2014 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: novel
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Hervorragende Übersetzung eines amerikanischen Klassikers.
A excellent written novel of a murder trial. Traver does a wonderful job of artfully taking the reader all the way from the beginning, the actual murder, to the end, the verdict.
Paul Biegler is an ex D.A. who is called up one night by Lieutenant Manion's wife to ask if he will defend her husband in court. The Lieutenant had shot Barney Quill in cold blood. Barney Quill had allegedly raped Manion's wife, Laura. This story starts right at the beginning and the reader is given no spoilers. We have
Stephanie McCown
I read this book mainly out of curiosity, primarily because I had watched the movie starring Jimmy Stewart,and because the story takes place in a northern Michigan town not too far from me. The book itself is rather...dry. The story is a good one, but I didn't find the writing to be so engaging that I couldn't put the book down. It isn't one I would pass on to a friend, unless that friend was interested in it for the purposes of reading of criminal law procedures circa 1960s.

All of that said, i
Jun 21, 2008 rabbitprincess rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mystery buffs who enjoy courtroom drama
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Top 100 list
A compelling read, once you get past the first couple of chapters. The real intrigue in this story lies not in determining who killed the victim, but whether or not the killer can get away with it.

The victim is one Barney Quill, a hotel owner in the town of Thunder Bay, Michigan (yes, Michigan...I kept thinking it was Ontario and wondering why the RCMP or the OPP weren't involved in this case). Quill had raped Laura Manion, wife of Lieutenant Manion, who was in town with his army unit. The Lieut
Kaylee England
One: I am currently writing a paper about this book and the atrocious way women are portrayed in the novel. However, I actually liked the novel itself even though it seemed a bit overdone with the performance given by the two lawyers during the trial. I liked the storyline, but I wanted so much more or I guess I just expected so much more! The ending was one of the worst I have ever experienced though in a trial murder story! Ugh!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joe Norat

Traver's prose is astonishingly good for a crime novel. His powerful courtroom rhetoric and cat-and-mouse debates bring the characters and the plot to life. The depth of the characters is one of his strengths; from Manion to Phonse and even Parnell, each character is distinct and seemingly full of his or her own vigor only for the author to transcribe. This is easily one of the best courtroom dramas I have read to date.

I was, however, extremely disappointed with the closing arguments. Not only
Jun 18, 2012 Holly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Sometime last year, on someone's recommendation, Johnny and I picked up the movie version of this book. I fell asleep before the opening credits were done, and he gave up soon after. I had completely forgotten about it until I heard that film recommended as one of the best lawyer movies of all time. I thought I might have better luck with the book that inspired the film, and sure enough, I found it hard to put down.

The crimes that set the plot in motion are edgy enough to be compelling without b
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2015 Reading Chal...: Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver 1 6 Feb 24, 2015 06:23PM  
  • Beast In View
  • The Paper Chase
  • The Labyrinth Makers
  • Laura
  • Nothing More than Murder
  • Serenade
  • Briarpatch
  • The Three Coffins (Dr. Gideon Fell, #6)
  • Past Perfect, Present Tense
  • Hammett
  • The Best of Father Brown
  • Blanche on the Lam
  • Great Cases of Sherlock Holmes (Franklin Library of Mystery Masterpieces)
  • The Case of the Calendar Girl
  • Second Skin
  • True Confessions
  • I, the Jury
  • A Coffin for Dimitrios
Robert Traver is the pseudonym of John Donaldson Voelker who served as the Prosecuting Attorney of Marquette County, Michigan and later as the 74th Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. He wrote many books reflecting his two passions, the law and flyfishing, Troubleshooters, Danny and the Boys and Small Town D.A.
More about Robert Traver...
Trout Madness Trout Magic Laughing Whitefish Danny and the Boys: Being Some Legends of Hungry Hollow Traver on Fishing

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