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Priority Mail: The Investigation

Priority Mail: The Investigation

by Mark Winne

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Shortly before Christmas 1989 four bombs were mailed to addresses in four Southern cities. One killed a judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in his Birmingham, Ala., home; another killed a Savannah, Ga., lawyer who had done work for the NAACP. Two others, addressed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta and the NAACP office in Jacksonville, Fla., were intercepted unopened, providing a look at the bomber's technique. A Treasury Department employee remembered a similar bomb from 1972, constructed by one Roy Moody, a brilliant and exceptionally litigious individual who had gone to prison for five years. Convinced the American judicial system was worthless because it had convicted him but gave too many favorable decisions to the NAACP, Moody set out to destroy that system. Eventually he was arrested for mailing the bombs, convicted after his wife testified against him and sentenced to seven life terms plus 400 years; he still faces a murder trial in Alabama for killing the judge. Atlanta TV reporter Winne's account is noteworthy for its picture of interagency squabbling among investigators that complicated a relatively simple case. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (Mar.)
Library Journal
In December 1989, mail bombs killed a federal judge in Alabama and a black lawyer in Georgia. Similar bombs were disarmed at an NAACP office in Florida and at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. These crimes, which implied a racist motive, sparked a massive state and federal investigation that ultimately focused on Roy Moody-bright, devious, paranoid, and very strange-who had committed a bomb crime in 1972. Apparently, he wanted revenge for losing the appeal of his 1972 case, even though he knew he was guilty and he had based the appeal on perjured testimony. His target was the judiciary-the black victims were intended as red herrings. Winne, who covered the case for an Atlanta TV station, has written a compelling account of a complex, bizarre, and important case. Recommended for general collections.-Gregor A. Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis
Aaron Cohen
The related late-1980s mail bombings of an NAACP office and the home of a federal judge in the South constituted a horrifying reminder that racial terrorism still exists in this country. In his chilling examination of the case, Winne uses court testimony and interviews with the federal agents who investigated the case, the victims, and the often unwilling witnesses. Throughout, Winne effectively uses true-crime conventions; for example, zippy descriptions such as that of ATF agent Brian Hoback as "boyish but balding, brown eyes at once bright and dark, luminous and bituminous." Much of the book describes the investigation of the bombings and presents the trial of the prime suspect, Roy Moody, who was smart enough to plant plausible seeds of doubt even as the mountain of evidence grew around him. By including the story of Moody's courageous wife, Susan, who testified against him, Winne keeps human emotions at the book's center. For devotees of the true-crime genre and for others who just want to see the criminal justice system in action, Winne's effort is certainly worthwhile.

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