Joshua's Reviews > Blood and Money

Blood and Money by Thomas Thompson
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's review
Aug 19, 2010

it was amazing

This bleak story is one of the best true-crime books around.

Joan Robinson, the daughter of Ash Robinson, a rich oil millionaire, dies mysteriously, and her husband, John Hill, is brought to trial for murder. It ends in a mistrial, and John is murdered by a contract killer before he can be tried again. The books then follows the people involved in the murder as the law attempts to bring them to justice.

Now, I don't believe John murdered his wife. If I recall the book correctly (and it's been a while), it was described as medically impossible for him to have intentionally given her that disease. The only way for him to be guilty is through "murder by omission", which strikes me as a bizarre legal quirk which allows someone to suffer as a murderer when all they've committed is involuntary manslaughter. And in all probability, John isn't even guilty of that. The book pretty much admits that the only reason this case became an criminal trial is because of Ash Robinson's influence. It's also very strongly implied that Ash set up John's murder.

You would think that John, having been harassed, wrongfully accused, and finally murdered by his crazed father-in-law, would be the most sympathetic person on earth.

And you would be wrong. He's a douche; everyone in this book is. No one is completely sympathetic, and no one is completely unsympathetic, either. Every character is carefully written so that they can have full personalities, and they all have huge character flaws. It really gives you a bleak picture of humanity.

But the picture this book gives you of humanity is nowhere near as bleak as the picture it gives you of the legal system. I don't think a single person in this book gets fairly treated by the law. We get to see John be railroaded at the grand jury, through the eyes of it's only unbiased member, whose concerns are pretty much ignored by the rest. Another person on trial has some defense, but her lawyer lazily pleads her guilty on the chance that she'll be released on appeal. A third person (she was almost certainly guilty) is convicted, but it is not so much on the evidence but rather because her well-meaning lawyer made a slip-up which allowed the defendant's daughter to testify that her mother had prostituted her as a child.

All in all, this a wonderfully written book. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys true-crime, or to anyone who feels too happy or optimistic about life and wants to put an end to that nonsense.
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07/02/2016 marked as: read

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