The Weight

The Weight ISBN: 9781548323967, Serpentine Publishing, a novel in e-book by .Hubert Crouch.

The book opens with a Prologue in which Christine Connors enters a former chateau overlooking the Mediterranean that now is a 5 star hotel whose rooms start at one thousand dollars a night. She avoids identification by the surveillance cameras and proceeds to the rooms of Jamie Stein where, with a ruse of engaging him sexually, manages to have him inhale an overdose of heroin. She leaves just as unobtrusively. From this introduction, a tale of legal maneuvering, intrigue, cheating, intimidation, deceit and murder develops centering more or less in Fort Worth Texas. A sizeable number of interacting characters are involved. Most prominent are highly regarded defense attorney Jace Forman and ‘good ol’ boy’ personal injury specialist Cal Connors, who has made millions often by not quite legal but so far un-proven means, his daughter/law partner Christine, Jace’s long-time paralegal Darrin McKenzie who is in love with him, Leah Rosen, a young reporter who, with an O.K. from her editor and publisher, does an article exposing Cal’s shortcomings, Michael Randazzo hired by Cal as an ‘intimidator’, Charlene Knox, Cal’s defense lawyer, Jackie McLaughlin a former Austin cop, now a prominent PI, Reginald Cowan, a Brooklyn boy who was offered a far better scholarship to Texas for his law training and stayed on to now serve as the District Attorney when the case comes to trial. He has a history with both Cal and Jace. Another prominent character is Dr. Howell Crimm, an ‘expert witness’ used often by Cal whose testimony is in question as well as several other characters of lesser prominence in the story line.

Discussion: Attempting to offer further material with respect to the characters’ complicated interrelationships, the plots and sub-plots no doubt would be a disservice to the prospective reader. Suffice it to say this is another in the series presented by the author with a ‘carry-over’ of characters and their relationships and does not provide any ‘closure per se’ to the on-going action. Rather, it is a continuance of the series offering somewhat limited legalese and address of the legal portions of the story that leave even the reader who may have only limited knowledge of legal proceedings with questions. However, the pace is excellent providing a thriller/suspense vehicle that will appeal to many readers.

4* For legal thriller/suspense devotees; 3* for more ‘dedicated’ legal fans.

Un-Making a Murder

Un-Making a Murderer: The Framing of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, (First published by Gadfly Press, GB 2017) this e-book published, copyright and written by Shaun Attwood.

An introduction explains that the author’s story presents a follow-up to the widely viewed 2015 Documentary film production ‘Making a Murderer’. Specifically he states: “Watching the documentary made me want to help Steven and Brandan (the subjects of the Documentary). Being familiar with the Department of Corrections procedures, I posted some YouTube videos advising people how to send letters and money to them without violating the prison rules. The avalanche of positive responses was overwhelming. Some of the millions who watched ‘Making a Murderer’ went online to express their outrage at the blatant injustice.”

The prose that follows describes how Steven Avery was convicted of rape and attempted murder, exonerated after spending 18 years in prison and 2 years later on the verge of receiving $36 million in compensation was accused and convicted of another brutal murder. This time implicating his mentally challenged 16-year-old nephew as well. So, now within the body of this work, he describes what he terms as “The Art of Framing Innocent People” wherein he lists and provides lengthy descriptions of 9 strategies employed – Trigger Emotional Reactions; Conceal Other Suspects; Coerce False Confessions; Plant Evidence; Pay Expert Witnesses to Lie; Ensure Public Defenders work for the Prosecution; Neutralize Honest Witnesses; Procure Dishonest Witnesses; Hire Sociopathic Prosecutors; Rig the Jury. Also included are: a conjectural chapter on the identity of the killer of the second victim; What you can do for Steven and Brandan; Get a free book; Social-Media Links; Shaun Attwood’s True-Life Jail Experience; Other books by Shawn Attwood and a short author’s biography.

Discussion: Unfortunately this reviewer has not seen the Documentary so readers must be aware that my remarks with respect to the subject under discussion are made strictly from the written evidence provided on these pages. However, if the lengthy accounts presented here by the author contain even a modicum of truth, it would appear that there had been numerous inexcusable errors committed not only in jurisprudence procedures but additional misuse of power almost at inconceivable levels. Furthermore, when reading this account, one must be aware that the author himself is a former correctional institution inmate as “a former stock-market millionaire and Ecstasy supplier turned public speaker, author and activist who is banned from America for life.” Regardless, any reader who is aware of the seemingly duplicitous, dishonest, deceitful and even illegal activities indulged in by the DOJ, FBI, CIA and even by elected and formerly elected individuals to represent the citizens of the United States, the suggestions supplied by the author seem extremely reasonable indeed. Of course, this conclusion also depends heavily upon how much a reader can believe the material provided by a horribly divided and highly biased news media. As an aside, much of the repetitive material, although no doubt included to strengthen the author’s presentation, could be selectively edited to enhance readability.

3* 4* Interestingly informative exposé(?); -1 judicious editing would enhance enjoyment.