Rating: 4 of 5 stars
When Hart Anderson is murdered in his home by Perry Sarver, a schizophrenic being treated by Anderson's psychiatrist wife, it seems like an open and shut case. Gideon Page is assigned as the Public Defender to Sarver's case, and it appears that a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity will take care of the whole incident. However, Hart Anderson was a State Senator, and there are those who do not want his killer to serve a few months in a mental hospital and then walk away from any responsibility for what he's done. It is up to Gideon Page to prove that Perry Sarver was "insane" when he shot and killed Hart Anderson in front of Anderson's wife, Sarver's psychiatrist.
What I liked most about this story was the way Grif Stockley approached the role of Gideon Page, the public defender. Page had his own experience with mental illness in his family, and he was aware of the stigma attached to such behavior. In taking this case he had to face his own feelings about how mental illness affects the attitudes and behaviors of a person afflicted with such an illness. When the subject of whether or not Sarver was faking schizophrenic behavior at the time of the shooting, Page realized how impossible it is to crawl inside the mind of another person and evaluate what motivations exist there.
I also liked the fact that this was not one of those slick lawyer novels where the attorney has all the tricks up his sleeve to be revealed with clever preparation of witnesses during a trial. There was no manipulation of the law. Page is an old-school lawyer who believes the truth should be what prevails. Page also makes mistakes, and he has to figure out how to rectify those mistakes without compromising his client. It was refreshing to read a novel about an ethical lawyer, albeit a flawed one.
I'm a big fan of legal mysteries, and I believe this one would appeal to anyone else who shares that reading interest.
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