rabbitprincess's Reviews > Anatomy of a Murder

Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver
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's review
May 27, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: bibliotheque, top-100-crime-novels, 2008
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Top 100 list
Recommended for: mystery buffs who enjoy courtroom drama
Read in June, 2008

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 Lieutenant, enraged at what had happened to his wife, killed the offender. Sounds like an open-and-shut case, right? Well, maybe. The defendant says he suffered temporary insanity, which would excuse him of his actions legally, even if, by moral standards, many would consider him blameless. The story thus focuses on the courtroom and the battle to find the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity.

The story itself is very compelling. Its author, as a former Michigan Supreme Court justice (here using a pseudonym), obviously brings his experiences to the fore in order to lay out the story as descriptively as possible. Sometimes he is excessively descriptive (the first two chapters are a prime example), but considering he is not a "professional" writer, this is forgivable. Overall, a solid book, well worth your time.

One final note: Jimmy Stewart plays Paul Biegler, the defense attorney, in the movie version of this book. When you read it, if you know anything about Stewart's movie persona, you'll see that he was the perfect cast.

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