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The Hanging Judge: A Novel Paperback – December 3, 2013
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The primary problem stems from the alleged controversy. The author, instead of exploring both sides of the death penalty argument, advanced his platform against execution. Characters that regarded the death penalty as acceptable sounded flat, faulty, sinister, or doltish, and emanated from stock, one-dimensional voices. Ponsor did attempt to show inner conflict in the prosecutor, but, as it turns out, it was just another way to articulate his stand against capital punishment.
Instead of a true polemical novel that challenges the reader, it hand-fed me all the (intelligent) answers from one angle. I already agree with Ponsor's views, but I don't want a PC book to reinforce what I already know. It lacked a convincing character with intelligent views that sympathized with the death penalty.
And, speaking of characterizations, the people that populated the novel sounded forced and borrowed. You know when a character feels organic and authentic--he or she inhabits the traits written by the author. Instead, they were either mouthpieces of Ponsor or cut-ups from derivative material.Read more ›
Of course, it is even better that Michael Ponsor is an excellent writer and shows an amazing amount of promise in his debut novel. The author takes on the issue of capital punishment in this taut courtroom drama. the main protagonist, David Norcross, is a judge with some deep doubts about the legal system, especially pertaining to capital punishment. He is assigned a case involving a drive-by shooting resulting in the death of a gang member and a respected member of the community. It is clear almost from the beginning who is guilty and who is innocent but that is not really the point. This is more of a drama than a mystery as its main focus is on the actions and emotions of the principles who are caught up in the situation. There are no simple actions or answers throughout this well-developed story. I became very involved in the tale and pretty much read through the night to see what would happen. It has a satisfying climax but this is a story that is too realistic for a Perry Mason "I did it" ending. Various plot diversions come into being and culminate at the end always staying true and realistic to the story with good guys, bad guys but mostly people in between doing things is the best way they know how to.
Yes, I'm being vague.Read more ›
Because I am a retired career Assistant U.S. Attorney (federal prosecutor), I can vouch for how accurately the author has described what is involved in federal prosecutions and how plausible his plot is. This is perhaps not too surprising, given that the author is a Senior United States District Judge, but is welcome nonetheless. How often have I picked up a crime novel, only to find a completely bogus description of the criminal justice system, riddled with inaccuracies? By contrast, how often does one pick up a "crime novel" like this one, and see a blurb from Tracy Kidder on the cover? No review I can write will impress more than the fact that Ponsor's writing friends, Kidder, Jonathan Harr, Josaeph Kanon, and Joe McGinnis recommend this book! But I will try.
The story is told in an interesting technique. It unfolds chronologically, and the segments of the chronology included are told in accurate detail, but big chunks of the story which are not essential to the narrative are skipped. For example, we read a detailed account of portions of the first jury selection where a Unitarian (gasp! like me!) actually ended up in the Foreperson's seat. I won't tell you what happens, but events require the first jury to be replaced with another. The book skips all that went on in between, and takes us next to a segment of the trial before the second jury.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you love legal dramas, you will LOVE this book. The twists and turns will keep you guessing until blind lady justice balances the scales.Published 6 days ago by Brenda Nelson
Great story with romance and an unexpected, surprising event!Published 8 days ago by Kindle Customer. Madelyn Crumpler
A great legal story with a dose of humor, endearing characters, and real people making their way through our legal system and life!Published 8 days ago by Sandy Stacy
Terrific book! I gave it five and a half stars on my own list! One of the best books I've read this year and I've read many!!Published 11 days ago by Scotti Ruhlman
This is a fascinating look at the many facets - human and institutional - that inform a trial by jury. A book I could put down but always reluctantly. Highly recommend.Published 17 days ago by Yaya Heston
I love murder, mystery, crime books, especially dealing with death penalty issues - seeing this book was written in the viewpoint of a judge, I was all in and excited. Read morePublished 28 days ago by SMagill