is a book about a lawsuit about a book about murder. The latter book, Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors
, is precisely what it claims to be: a step-by-step DIY guide to freelance assassination. Few people read Hit Man
; even fewer took it seriously. Ex-con James Perry did both, and when Lawrence Horn hired the felonious entrepreneur to do a little job for him, Perry followed the book's instructions to the letter, executing his client's ex-wife and brain-damaged son along with the boy's nurse. After the murderous co-conspirators were convicted and sent to prison, the families of the victims filed a wrongful-death suit against the book's publisher for aiding and abetting triple homicide.
Authored by a member of the plaintiffs' team of lawyers, Deliberate Intent is an atypical nonfiction legal thriller. Rod Smolla has not reconstructed his role in Rice v. Paladin Enterprises, Inc. to spotlight his valiant determination and legal genius; instead, he offers uncommonly candid insight into his struggle to reconcile the First Amendment's protection of free speech with the sixth commandment's proscription against murder. A respected scholar of constitutional law, Smolla was understandably reluctant to take on a case with potentially damaging consequences for the Bill of Rights--and willingly admits there were times when he questioned if he was on the right side of the fight. Words don't kill people, after all; assassins kill people. Literacy is hardly a prerequisite. Eventually, however, Smolla decides, "A publisher who provides detailed information on techniques of violent crime with the deliberate intent that some readers will use the information to murder and maim will not find refuge in the First Amendment." (In May 1999, just before the case was to go to jury trial, Paladin reached an out-of-court agreement with the victims' families. As part of the settlement, Paladin withdrew Hit Man from the market.) --Tim Hogan
From Publishers Weekly
a civil suit against Paladin, which they did. As PW reported (News, May 31), Paladin recently settled out of court for an estimated $5 million and agreed to cease publishing Hit Man.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.