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Conviction Hardcover – January 25, 2005

Book 4 of 4 in the Christopher Paget Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After focusing on gun control and tort reform (in Balance of Power) and late-term abortion and Supreme Court nomination (in Protect and Defend), Patterson takes on the death penalty, exploring its uncertainties and injustices from the perspective of San Francisco lawyer Christopher Paget—hero of the author's first book, The Lasko Tangent—and Paget's lawyer wife, Terri. The horrific crime on which the novel hinges is the killing of nine-year-old Thuy Sen, whose body is found in San Francisco Bay. The medical examiner quickly ascertains that the little girl did not drown but choked to death on semen. After Thuy Sen's picture is broadcast on television, an elderly eyewitness identifies her dope-dealer neighbors Payton and Rennell Price as the killers. This story is told in flashback after Terri Paget, who specializes in representing death row inmates, takes on the 15-year-old case, representing Rennell, who has 59 days before he is to die by lethal injection. Rennell is a hulking retarded black man whose sullen passivity inspires little sympathy in anyone. Over the next several months, Teresa comes to believe in Rennell as she fights not only to stop his execution but to prove him innocent. It's a compelling story, but Patterson's true interest is in the legal details. He mostly succeeds at explaining the often Orwellian legal complexities of the death penalty, but the price he pays as a novelist is high. Many readers will skip over vast sections of the book, but those who stick with it will find the ending moving and come away with a greater understanding of a controversial issue.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Former trial lawyer Patterson, who has tackled such weighty issues as abortion (Protect and Defend, 2000) and the Second Amendment (Balance of Power, 2003), now turns his keen eye to the issue of the death penalty. Terri Peralta Paget has just taken the case of Rennell Price, who is on death row for the murder of a nine-year-old girl. Rennell and his older brother, Payton, were convicted 15 years ago of sexually abusing the girl and killing her in the process. But as Terri goes over the case and talks to the detective in charge of the initial investigation and the lawyer who handled Rennell's subsequent appeals, she starts to have doubts about Rennell's mental capacity and his guilt. Physical evidence placed the victim at the scene, and the prosecution's star witness, Eddie Fleet, named the brothers as her killer, but the same lawyer, an incompetent cokehead who mishandled their defense, represented both Rennell and Payton. As with his previous novels, Patterson examines a complex issue through the lens of a compelling, gripping story. Readers familiar with his characters (many of whom have appeared in his previous novels) and those looking for a powerful courtroom drama will not be disappointed. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 463 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (January 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345450191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345450197
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.6 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,533,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

RICHARD NORTH PATTERSON is the author of The Spire, Eclipse and fourteen other bestselling and critically acclaimed novels. Formerly a trial lawyer, he was the SEC liaison to the Watergate special prosecutor and has served on the boards of several Washington advocacy groups. He lives in San Francisco and on Martha's Vineyard with his wife, Dr. Nancy Clair.

Customer Reviews

Found this book a little long and into too much law.
sylvia schwartz
This book might not be for you if you already have a very good understanding of the legal system relating to the death penalty.
John Taylor
Call it "hokey" but those victories always left me feeling that sometimes the "right" people can win out over power and greed.
suzebo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Denise M. on January 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Payton and Rennel Price, brothers are charged with, convicted and sentenced to die for the horrendous sexual assault and murder of a 9 year old child. Fifteen years later, Teresa Paget and family are assigned the task of preventing the state from execution by lethal injection.

During the initial 54 days left to spare him his life, Paget uncovers mutliple issues which, taken as a whole, could very well prove his innocence. As a matter of fact, the state prosecutor responsible for prosecuting the matter on appeal concedes that if the information developed 15 years after the initial conviction had been known at the time of the original trial, the state would not have been able to get a conviction.

Therein lies the problem. The issues of politics play an ever important role in the fate of Rennell. Although the end was somewhat predictable, it in no way blunts to impact of what truly happens. The balance of the rights of victims vs. the rights of the accused coupled with politics, elections, favors etc., are at the crux of this fictional novel.

However, to view this book as merely a work of fiction, a good story,tense courtroom drama and nothing more would be to read the novel in a vacuum. No matter where one stands on the very emotional and complicated issue of state sanctioned executions, what Mr. Patterson addresses are the consequences of an imperfect system of criminal justice and the ultimate price to be paid in an imperfect system. In an imperfect system whether guilty or innocent, someone will always lose but the questions is,how much?
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on February 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Richard North Patterson writes big books that deal with big issues; some have called him the voice of the American conscience. Patterson started his career as a trial lawyer. Then, when the Watergate scandal broke, he became the SEC's liaison to the special prosecutor. He is now on the boards of several Washington-based advocacy groups and his novels reflect what the agencies deal with: gun violence and torte reform (BALANCE OF POWER, 2003) and in PROTECT AND DEFEND (2000) he brought his laser-like focus to the United States's schizophrenic arguments about abortion. His newest novel, CONVICTION, shines a light on the virulent discussions and controversies that surround this country's death penalty: uncertainty, morality, inconsistency, politics, race, social class, and finality.

San Francisco attorney Christopher Paget --- who debuted in THE LASKO TANGENT, Patterson's first book --- his wife Terri, also a lawyer, and Carlo Paget, Chris's son and now a practicing attorney, take on the case of Rennell Price. He is a death row inmate who was found guilty (along with his brother Payton) of the sexual assault and murder of a nine-year-old Vietnamese girl. Fifteen years have passed since their sentencing and only fifty-nine days remain before Rennell is put to death.

Teresa Peralta Paget is a specialist in death row cases. She and Carlo begin to work with Rennell and come to the conclusion that he may not have been competent to stand trial --- he is clearly retarded and never could have helped in his own defense. Eventually, they discover that he was high throughout the proceedings and come to believe that Rennell is innocent and that another person helped Payton Price commit the unthinkable crime.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bill Garrison VINE VOICE on February 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I believe four out of the last five novels by Patterson have been overtly political, as if later in life the author is trying to do something meaningful other than entertaining the masses. With the exception of "Dark Lady," Patterson seems intent on writing political dramas full of characters spouting left of center and sometimes extreme liberal positions. I skipped Balance of Power and Protect and Defend, because I didn't deem it worth my time to hear what I felt would be an intelligent assault on my beliefs on abortion and gun control.

Patterson is one of the best authors around as his thriller/crime dramas prove, so even though he is tackling politics now, the novels are still going to be well-written. The problem is that Patterson is immediately going to alienate at least half of the country if he isn't careful. It is okay to spout liberal beliefs but Patterson must be careful not to insult conservatives if he wants to retain those fans.

Patterson succeeds only partly. Conviction is a story of Rennell Price, a man sentenced to die in a few months before the Paget family takes the case. They go through all the legal hoops required by law in order to save Price. In the process, they discover a lot of things about Price. He may be retarded or he may be innocent. But will that be enough to set him free?

Occassionally, Patterson acknowledges that the pro death penalty crowd has valid beliefs but too often you get the feeling that he has a disdain for conservatives and doesn't respect their opinions. Conviction does however do a good job of describing intelligently why people are against the death penalty.
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