Trial by Clifford Irving

A brilliant courtroom drama. Simple as that. Actually the story follows one attorney as he comes back from a conduct suspension and takes on two cases which eventually cross paths. Sometimes courtroom dramas can drag on due to the boring details that court actually entails. This story leaves out all the side bars and removals of the jury from the court room to keep the story flowing fluidly for the reader.

No give aways as to the plot except to say that the story is set in Texas and that both defendants are on trial for murder. The attorney is basically a good guy and while it touches on his somewhat complicated personal life, it doesn’t dwell on that. For once, although there are other hard drinking attorneys, the hero isn’t one of those which is a refreshing change of pace.

This book was written in 1991 when people were not as constrained by the ridiculous political correctness that is currently en vogue. Thus, some realities that may make younger readers feel that this is almost surreal but these are the facts: the female judge is portrayed as a bitch and is treated poorly and written to behave poorly. Young female attorneys and wannabes – believe it or not, the law was a mans world for many years and women had just begun to make some inroads at this time. A woman on the bench was a rarity. She also smoked while on the bench. Yeah, that really used to happen. Go talk to Ripley – believe it or not.

Women are written about in a pretty degrading way. Again for young women, it took many generations of women before you to win the battle to be portrayed in real life in a dignified way. Yes, men used to speak to us and about us just the way it is written because after all, life imitates art. You are now reaping the benefits of the many fights that came before and equality is still a long way off. Be grateful – especially if you are young and in this profession. Some women put up with some real shit to bring you the more politically correct workplace that appears for you now.

That being said, it brings back wistful reminders to older readers of the days we were allowed to drink at work and tell off color jokes without fear of being hauled before an EEO commission and crucified. There are some great lawyer jokes inserted, some very off color. Deal with it. Likewise there are jokes and degrading verbiage about Hispanics and Asians and African Americans. If you are too sensitive and not adult enough to consider time and place, then this book isn’t for you.

On the flip side – if you love well drawn characters, a great and fairly accurate portrayal of court procedure (even if it is a little abridged to make the story flow) and you want to feel what Houston must be like (the descriptions are awesome) and you love a well written book, then by all means, grab this one. The author added an addendum at the back stating that his work is generally available for between $2.99-5.99 on Nook and Kindle. My advice is to stock up on his work and take a great vacation or staycation and read from a pretty wide variety of genres from which he has written. Why not 5 stars? I have to hold back at least one for the degradation of women. Solidarity!

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