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Anatomy of a Murder (The Best Mysteries of All Time) Hardcover – May, 2000
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Top Customer Reviews
Law is a thing which is immensely hard to understand, yet Traver has a way of explaining it in way that does not bore the reader and does not entirely detract from the story. Traver also has an interesting way of describing a character so that the reader can see them, but doesn't detail much of their physical features.
The best parts of the book (obviously) take place in the courtroom, where the reader will find themselves constantly changing their opinion between Manion's guilt. The part in which Biegler cross-examines the Prosecution's psychiatrist is one of the best chapters I've ever read in a book.
The only two problems with the book is that there is never any resolution with Mary Pilant, and it takes a while to get to the courtroom scenes.
However, if you are looking for a great courtroom drama, and a good read, this is one of the top in its field.
In "Anatomy," there is never a question that army Lt. Manion is responsible for the death of tavern owner Barney Quill in a relatively remote "upper peninsula" Michigan locale. Witnesses to the shooting death are hardly in short supply; add to that the fact that Manion himself readily admits to the homicide. What is at issue -- and which, frankly, may remain at issue even after the last page is turned -- is the question of Manion's culpability; was his killing of Quill justified, in the strictest legal sense, or was it otherwise?
Travers leaves that question dangling in the minds of his reader, diverting our attention, rather, to the practice of criminal law and trial strategies; his protagonist, recently-deposed County Prosecutor Paul ('Polly') Biegler, faces an uphill battle against not only his successful rival, Mitch Lodwick, but a high-powered deputy from the state attorney-general's office (from 'downstate' in Flint, Michigan) who promptly emerges as his true antagonist. Relative issues of guilt vs. innocence quickly take a backseat to questions of "gamesmanship" in the trial as Biegler fights to introduce evidence that the prosecution fights equally hard to suppress. "Truth" quickly becomes a secondary issue -- if an issue at all.Read more ›
Forty-year-old Paul Bieglar (dubbed "Polly" by his cronies) is an ex D. A. who has been replaced by a young upstart, Mitch Lodwick. Paul is at loose ends, with no wife, a faltering legal practice, and little to occupy his time other than drinking and fishing. One day, he gets a telephone call from Laura Manion, whose husband, U. S. Army Lieutenant Frederic Manion, sits in a county jail cell after admitting that he killed the man who allegedly raped his wife. Although Manion has no money to hire a lawyer, Paul believes that this case will bring him valuable publicity. He decides to defend Manion, and Parnell McCarthy, a hard-drinking attorney whose career has faded but who still loves the law, becomes Polly's unofficial partner. Squaring off against them is the aforementioned Lodwick and a much more experienced state attorney named Claude Dancer. As the case proceeds, it becomes a legal morass, with contradictory eyewitness testimony, dueling psychiatrists, heated and, at times, eloquent courtroom exchanges, and an unexpected last-minute witness whose testimony may change the trial's outcome.
Traver accomplishes what few authors of legal thrillers these days even attempt. He creates an indelible sense of time and place as well as fully fleshed out three-dimensional characters. The book is set in a small logging and resort town on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan near Lake Superior.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Classic murder mystery. Great story and character development. Makes courtroom seem interesting. Twist ending.Published 2 months ago by Amy Gura
Simply the finest work of legal fiction I have ever read. A great mystery ends with one mystery solved and others left hanging. I cannot recommend this book more strongly.Published 3 months ago by Brian Martin
Classic courtroom drama based on a real story. The movie version was nominated for best picture.Published 3 months ago by Amy Goodman