Thomas's Reviews > Justice: Crimes, Trials, and Punishments

Justice by Dominick Dunne
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Sep 02, 10

Read from August 15 to September 02, 2010

Dominick Dunne's JUSTICE: CRIMES, TRIALS, AND PUNISHMENTS is a collection of essays about murder trials, most of them involving people who are rich, privileged, and famous. About half of the essays deal with the trial of OJ Simpson, articles by Dunne that orginally appeared in VANITY FAIR.

There are better books about the Simpson trial--Jeffrey Toobin's THE RUN OF HIS LIFE, for one--but Dunne's pieces on Simpson are unique in their point of view and conversational style. Dunne is mostly interested in the sociology and psychology of the trial--the emotions and interactions between the families of the victim and the families of the accused. The evidence, the day-to-day legal strategy, is of less interest to him, partly because he makes it clear from the beginning that he has no doubt that Simpson is guilty.

The opening essay in the book is the best and most evocative. Titled "Justice: A Father's Account of the Trial of His Daugther's Killer," Dunne details with great emotional intensity the ordeal of his own experience: learning that his daughter had been murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend and then the trial of that individual. That essay announces quite clearly that in murder cases, Dunne's sympathies are with the families who grieve the loss of their loved ones.

For some, these essays may seem self-indulgent or obsessed with the lifestyles of the rich and famous--Dunne gathers much of his inside information at fancy restaurants and exclusive dinner parties with those involved in the cases--but there is an intimacy in his reporting that is engaging.

There are some wonderful portraits in the book, and a great deal of behind-the-scenes detail about some of the more famous cases--the von Bulow case; the Menendez brothers' case. It is a book that will hold your attention.
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