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Justice: Crimes, Trials, and Punishments Hardcover – June 19, 2001

107 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

"In my everyday life over the last fifty years, it has been my curious lot to move among the rich and famous and powerful, always as an outsider, always listening, watching, remembering."

Writing about the crimes of the rich and famous for Vanity Fair with this insider's status, Dominick Dunne has borne witness to the often bizarre personalities who surround high-profile cases and their telling intimacies. Andrea Reynolds, for instance, dressed only in a negligee and jewelry, insists that her jewels are finer than those of the comatose woman in whose apartment she resides and whom her lover, Claus von Bulow, is charged with attempting to murder. The essays in Justice offer a fascinating, disturbing, and wry look at the cast of a half dozen high-profile trials, including Lyle and Erik Menendez, who murdered their affluent parents; Marvin Pancoast, who beat the $18,000-a-month mistress of Alfred Bloomingdale to death with a baseball bat; the multibillionaire banker Edmund Safra, who suffocated in his own bunker-like bathroom in Monaco; and the gossiping members of Los Angeles society during "All O.J., All the Time."

The most moving story by far is the title piece, about the murder of Dunne's daughter, the actress Dominique Dunne, by her ex-boyfriend, who walked away with a pitifully light sentence thanks to the extremes taken by his defense lawyer and the vanity of the judge. While the succeeding stories don't have the same poignancy, Dunne still makes them personal--after all, he knows many of those involved, and justice truly is personal for him. In fact, it is this moral authority that enables him to enter the strange universe of high-society crime and write about it with no pretense of objectivity, but rather with rage toward the short shrift justice is so often given in celebrity cases. The counterpoint to his anger is a delicious irony in the form of fascinating subplots, jet-set gossip, and terrific quotes straight from some of the horses' mouths. Dunne has both a sharp sense of the absurd and a trenchant eye for injustice in any form. --Lesley Reed

From Publishers Weekly

Dunne, the bespectacled crime reporter for Vanity Fair who has long specialized in the sins of high society, is not a spectacular writer. He is, however, a master storyteller, particularly in his ability to place telling details. As is evident in this collection of high-profile reportage that spans more than two decades, Dunne is famously connected, an adept listener and sometimes plain lucky. That combination makes reading even his dispatches on the O.J. Simpson trial feel fresh. Here, Dunne documents how that saga burrowed deep into the consciousness of Los Angeles. He incorporates into the narrative snatches of overheard conversations, answering machine messages, courtroom chatter, anonymous letters, even death threats and street dialogue: "You're the first white person to give me money since the verdict," a black panhandler is quoted as saying. Dunne further chronicles the murder cases of such figures as the Menendez brothers, Claus von Blow, social climber Wayne Lonergan and Christopher Moseley, the husband of Lisa du Pont. The common thread running through this collection is the notion of the trial being the last business of the victim's life, something this author knows all too well: in 1981, Dunne's daughter, Dominique, was murdered by her estranged boyfriend. He opens Justice with a moving account of that trial, describing the helplessness, rage and degradation that often envelop loved ones. Of course, the misdeeds of the elite make inherently good copy, but it's reassuring to know that someone like Dunne is out there keeping his ears pricked in those upper echelons, letting us know when its members have flown too close to the sun.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (June 19, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609608738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609608739
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #718,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dominick Dunne (1925-2009) was the author of five bestselling novels, two collections of essays, and "The Way We Lived Then," a memoir with photographs. His final novel, "Too Much Money," will be published in December 2009. He was a Special Correspondent for "Vanity Fair" and lived in New York City and Hadlyme, Connecticut.

Photo (C) H. Thompson

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 103 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have to say I was wishing for fiction but after reading the introduction I knew I was hooked. I love Dominick Dunne! I have read everything he's written including his Vanity Fair articles and once again I am not disappointed. He tells these stories as if he were talking to you. His honesty and openess related to his daughter's murder gave me goosebumps. It's a quick read. I bought it yesterday and could not put it down. I finished it early this morning. Now I'm disappointed that it's over. What am I going to do until he writes the next one? Keep up the good work Mr. Dunne! And I hope you are feeling better.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Dominic Smith on July 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating book told from an insider's perspective about some of the most high-profile cases ever. At times, Dunne is scathing in his criticism of the so-called justice handed out for some of the crimes committed. It opens with the poignant, at times heart-rending account of his own daughter's murder and my attention was absolutely rivetted.
This book reads like the ultimate murder mystery short-story collection. All the more disturbing because they actually happened. Dunne has a compelling style that drew me in and urged me to read on, and on, and on.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Cranky Greg on July 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Dunne's new book is fascinating and difficult to put down. It is a collection of stories he wrote for Vanity Fair, covering the trials of O.J. Simpson, the Menendez brothers, and other cases.
My only complaint -maybe "suggestion" is a better word since the book was so good- is that he should have included a timeline and synopsis of each case. The stories make sense only if you really followed the case.
I think everyone would not have a problem with the OJ chapters, but I got lost on some of the other cases while reading his stories. He should have put the dates his stories appeared, so the reader can see where in the timeline of events the story fits.
Other than that, I thought it was a great book. Dominick Dunne is eminently interesting, and I love the way he writes. He would be a great dinner guest!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By T.W Trotter on September 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Anyone familiar with the writing of Dominick Dunne, its chatty, informal and curiously personal tone, will be sure to enjoy his latest book Justice: Crimes, Trials, and Punishments. For the uninitiated, Dunne's book is a collection of his Vanity Fair articles covering the trials of such "celebrities" as O.J. Simpson, the Menendez brothers and Claus von Bulow.
Dunne has brought a new perspective to the art of crime reporting. In tackling so-called "celebrity" cases Dunne uses his own peerage to inveigle his way behind the facade of wealth and power to highlight and expose how very different and yet comfortingly similar the response to such cases can be in those communities - so far removed from the hoi polloi
. As he admits in the book Dunne has been accused of trying to be the next Truman Capote. Certainly there are some parallels - Dunne is a shameless name-dropper - but these articles can hardly be equated to In Cold Blood. Capote was a amorphous socialite with an interest in how crime affected "Mr and Mrs America". Dunne on the other hand writes from a more compelling perspective; after the murder of his daughter and his subsequent exposure to the criminal justice system he became entranced by its operation. In light of his background, he focused on cases which represented his milieu; American High Society.

Dunne focuses on a subject that amalgamates two driving preoccupations of the public; a fascination with wealth and a fascination with crime. Combined, the two prove an irresistible draw upon the public psyche. If left at that, Dunne's work would be no more than a rich man's Hard Copy, but Dunne has also resurrected the idea of reportage; journalism which reflects the voice of it's author.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you've read anything else by Mr Dunne (books, magazine articles, etc), this book will definitely match your expectations. There are clear insights into the machinations of the justice system and the information given to us as potential "jurors." Detail run aplenty, however, some of the cases run through four or five chapters....just a tad excessive. The reader needs to remember that the bulk of this book is taken from letters/articles written for another medium, consequently the book often doesn't read like a "novel", but as something much more intimate. If you've never read Dunne before, don't start with this book....try one of the earlier ones and then return here.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Sapir on July 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Any work by this author is dependably good. Dominick Dunne's life is an example of how good evolves from evil. Mr. Dunne's daughter, Dominique, was murdered by her boyfriend who served only about two and a half years for his crime. Mr. Dunne's tragedy led him to career in reporting on justice, and that he does very well. Not confining himself strictly to the legal proceedings, but in many instances, relying on the comments of those close to the participants, he learns more at dinner parties than most reporters do covering the same events. This book discusses the O.J. Simpson trial, the Menendez brothers, and others, and if I interpreted one of the remarks in the book correctly, the author is fictionalizing the Safra murder in Monaco as his next book. Despite Mr. Dunne's intimate acquaintance with the world of the rich and infamous, he obviously is a man of good heart. He says what he thinks and his decency and honesty, especially about himself, shines through. And after all he's been through in his own life, he knows the perspective of the victim too well.
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