"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 Blow, 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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