From Publishers Weekly
Readers expecting that Bailey-one of the best-known criminal defense attorneys of the last half-century-would provide insight into spousal homicide will be disappointed by this book, which adds nothing fresh to our understanding of the 20 cases discussed. The case studies (including some of the most prominent examples of accused wife-killers, such as O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, Sam Sheppard, Scott Peterson, Claus Von Bülow and Jeffrey MacDonald) are presented in chronological order, but the chapters jump around in time, becoming confusing and sometimes repetitive. Bailey's commentaries at the end of each chapter often digress to general criminal-justice issues rather than focusing on novel interpretations of the evidence. The chapter on Simpson (Bailey was a member of his defense Dream Team) is a tease-the author begins his comments by noting that "a proper delineation of what would need to be said" in Simpson's defense "is best left for another day." And the account neglects defense lawyer Barry Scheck's contributions to the football star's acquittal with his discrediting of the DNA evidence. Facts referred to in the commentary do not always appear in the main text, and the choice of breadth over depth leaves readers feeling short-changed.
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Bailey, one of the most recognized and flamboyant defense counsels of our time, here discusses 20 cases of murderous husbands, including Sam Sheppard, O. J. Simpson, and Claus von Bulow. Rather than scientific examination of incriminating factors or sociopathological analysis, however, he basically chats up details of these high-profile murders. Coauthor Rabe, a successful fantasy novelist, summarizes and details significant attributes of each case in rat-a-tat Dragnet style. Then Bailey weighs in on the meaning of the details and with lawyerly insights. His pearls are italicized, though since Rabe refers to him in the third person, there would seem to be no further need to distinguish his rap from hers. Anyway, he’s forthright, cutting through niceties and damning both investigators and attorneys. His takes on Robert Blake and Jeffrey MacDonald raise interesting questions, to say the least, and his appraisal of footballer Rae Carruth is a celebration of how not to commit and prosecute a murder. Sadly, Phil Spector is not limned, though Scott Peterson is, most rewardingly. --Mike Tribby