In the 1960s, racism was rampant in Jackson, Mississippi, and it was common for white men caught in the act of killing blacks to be acquitted by all-white juries. But 40 years later, someone is seeking justice; those same men are turning up dead - in the identical manner in which they killed their victims. Now, James Reynolds, who has overcome the odds - and his own personal demons - to become the only black prosecutor in Jackson, will face the toughest case of his life: He'll have to prosecute prime suspect Martin Matheson, a brilliant professor, the son of a venerated Civil Rights leader, and the newly appointed folk hero for thousands of African Americans hungry for retribution.
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(235mm x 158mm x 33mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
A controversial African-American professor stands trial for the murder of a Klansman who eluded prosecution for past crimes. Martin Matheson, nicknamed "Doctor Fine" by admirers, gains a high profile and sharpens racial tensions in Jackson, Mississippi, with his dramatic lectures about lynchings and related atrocities during the civil rights era, striking a visceral chord by showing graphic photos of the crimes. The professor stops short of recommending retribution, but gives the names of unpunished and for the most part unrepentant local perpetrators who are still alive. Matheson is a thorn in the side of Deputy District Attorney James Reynolds, an African-American who has made steady career progress despite discrimination through perseverance and hard work. Reynolds often finds himself in court facing old lion Todd Miller, a white liberal past his prime but still a strong defender of leftist causes in the South. The narrative shifts among these three perspectives as Matheson's activities become more than academic when the alleged criminals identified in his lectures begin getting killed. Reynolds contemplates prosecuting the professor on some charge, but debate ensues about specific culpability. The DDA's job is made easier when blood evidence connects Matheson to the murder of crotchety Earvin Cooper. The trial occupies the story's second half, with Reynolds prosecuting and Miller defending Doctor Fine. As might be expected, Matheson takes a very active role in his case, but Miller is no slouch, rising to the high-profile occasion by playing shamelessly to the media and displaying the courtroom showmanship of his younger days. The circuslike atmosphere takes the greatest toll on Reynolds, who has never before been a target of the local black community. Matheson takes the stand in his own defense, providing more surprises. Playwright-turned-novelist Stetson paints with broad strokes and bold polemic colors, raising provocative questions while keeping the plot on the move in the tradition of the best contemporary commercial fiction. (Kirkus Reviews)
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