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Anatomy of a Murder (The Best Mysteries of All Time) Hardcover – May, 2000

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Editorial Reviews


'The book was first published in 1958, and there is a 'period' (maybe a black-and- white movie) feel to the dialogue and context. But in no way can it besaid to be dated. The characters are as fresh as when they were first created, the tension high, and the cross- examinations and legal chicanery full of suspense. The novel is simply what it says on the cover. A classic.'TANGLED WEB --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Best Mysteries of All Time
  • Hardcover: 527 pages
  • Publisher: IMPress (May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762188553
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762188550
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #996,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Greg on June 4, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is based on a true murder case which happened in Michigan's beautiful Upper Peninsula about fifty years ago. The last half of the story is almost entirely courtroom drama and is second to none for suspense in this genre. Not only do we get excellent character development and an exciting story, but also a nice sense of place, as Traver lived in the U.P. much of his life. Additionally, this book contains the most eloquent use of the modern English language I've ever read, particularly the character Parnell's quotes. Highly recommended to fans of courtroom drama or classic literature.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Ed Maxell on January 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Once in a while, there is a book that I become obsessed with finishing; Robert traver's Anatomy of a Murder is such a book. He perfectly describes each and every delicate procedure undertaken by the book's hero, Paul Biegler, in order to successfully defend a muder charge.
Law is a thing which is immensely hard to understand, yet Traver has a way of explaining it in way that does not bore the reader and does not entirely detract from the story. Traver also has an interesting way of describing a character so that the reader can see them, but doesn't detail much of their physical features.
The best parts of the book (obviously) take place in the courtroom, where the reader will find themselves constantly changing their opinion between Manion's guilt. The part in which Biegler cross-examines the Prosecution's psychiatrist is one of the best chapters I've ever read in a book.
The only two problems with the book is that there is never any resolution with Mary Pilant, and it takes a while to get to the courtroom scenes.
However, if you are looking for a great courtroom drama, and a good read, this is one of the top in its field.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Paul Dana on March 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Many contemporary readers seem to find this novel "dated" or "trite." With all due respect, I find this type of thinking analogous to those who say the same about Bronte's "Jane Eyre," never taking the time to realize that she -- like Travers in this instance -- was breaking new ground, setting the standard for successive (and in all too many instances lesser) writers to equal and exceed, if only they could.
In "Anatomy," there is never a question that army Lt. Manion is responsible for the death of tavern owner Barney Quill in a relatively remote "upper peninsula" Michigan locale. Witnesses to the shooting death are hardly in short supply; add to that the fact that Manion himself readily admits to the homicide. What is at issue -- and which, frankly, may remain at issue even after the last page is turned -- is the question of Manion's culpability; was his killing of Quill justified, in the strictest legal sense, or was it otherwise?
Travers leaves that question dangling in the minds of his reader, diverting our attention, rather, to the practice of criminal law and trial strategies; his protagonist, recently-deposed County Prosecutor Paul ('Polly') Biegler, faces an uphill battle against not only his successful rival, Mitch Lodwick, but a high-powered deputy from the state attorney-general's office (from 'downstate' in Flint, Michigan) who promptly emerges as his true antagonist. Relative issues of guilt vs. innocence quickly take a backseat to questions of "gamesmanship" in the trial as Biegler fights to introduce evidence that the prosecution fights equally hard to suppress. "Truth" quickly becomes a secondary issue -- if an issue at all.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
Robert Traver's 1958 classic, "Anatomy of a Murder," is a prototype of the legal thriller/courtroom drama that has long been a mainstay of popular fiction. However, its value goes beyond its historical importance as a groundbreaking work. It is an engrossing tale of a sensational murder trial that pits a wily prosecutor against a clever and tenacious defense attorney.

Forty-year-old Paul Bieglar (dubbed "Polly" by his cronies) is an ex D. A. who has been replaced by a young upstart, Mitch Lodwick. Paul is at loose ends, with no wife, a faltering legal practice, and little to occupy his time other than drinking and fishing. One day, he gets a telephone call from Laura Manion, whose husband, U. S. Army Lieutenant Frederic Manion, sits in a county jail cell after admitting that he killed the man who allegedly raped his wife. Although Manion has no money to hire a lawyer, Paul believes that this case will bring him valuable publicity. He decides to defend Manion, and Parnell McCarthy, a hard-drinking attorney whose career has faded but who still loves the law, becomes Polly's unofficial partner. Squaring off against them is the aforementioned Lodwick and a much more experienced state attorney named Claude Dancer. As the case proceeds, it becomes a legal morass, with contradictory eyewitness testimony, dueling psychiatrists, heated and, at times, eloquent courtroom exchanges, and an unexpected last-minute witness whose testimony may change the trial's outcome.

Traver accomplishes what few authors of legal thrillers these days even attempt. He creates an indelible sense of time and place as well as fully fleshed out three-dimensional characters. The book is set in a small logging and resort town on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan near Lake Superior.
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