Risking disbarment and criminal prosecution, Nora joins Owedia Braxton, Dexter's former teacher at the deaf school, in the cause of winning Dexter's freedom and finding the real killer. Their investigation draws them into a complex web of inner-city politics, gang warfare, and racial hatred. With rival gangs from the inner city and the suburbs hot on their trail, Nora and Owedia pursue an elusive gunman known only as "Mr. E" and find themselves entangled in an underworld of bigotry and violence and on the verge of uncovering a conspiracy of deadly corruption.
At once a page-turning thriller, a chilling look at a city in a crisis of violent crime, and a moving, finely drawn portrait of a fiercely independent young woman, A Criminal Appeal is a moral rollercoaster ride into the heart of American prejudice, and the debut of a bold, exciting new novelist.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As the author reminds the reader throughout this excellent story, Nora Lumsey is a big-boned woman, and proud of it. She is farm-bred, drives a pickup truck, just out of law school, and lives alone in Indianapolis where she doesn't know a soul. Her job is a plum for any recent law school grad -- law clerk to a judge on the state's Court of Appeals. As this book begins, Nora is assigned to write the opinion denying a poignant, handwritten appeal and affirming the conviction for murder and 55-year sentence of 10-year-old Dexter Hinton. Dexter, who is deaf, confessed to the crime, but there were problems with the confession and Dexter and his grandfather now want to 'take it back.' Once Nora starts wading through the transcripts and case file, she becomes convinced that the conviction should be overturned, but her judge is adamant that the decision will stand. Nora is a young woman of uncommon principle, integrity, and ethics, so even she is surprised to find herself emotionally and personally involved in the case. Moreover, she has never known a black person before and getting to know this black child and his family comes as something of an epiphany to her. When she learns that Dexter's grandfather is her neighbor, she gets sucked even deeper into surreptitiously investigating the case and searching for the truth, knowing all the while that what she's doing could get her fired. When she and her new friend and ally, Owedia, who is Dexter's former teacher, start asking questions in dark and dangerous quarters and irritating some ruthless and powerful people, disbarment begins to look like the least of Nora's worries. This book knowledgeably examines such issues as justice and the seemingly assinine complexities of appellate law, politics, race, religion, and gang violence with great insight while at the same time plotting a highly suspenseful mystery with a thought-provoking ending. Nora Lumsey is a down-to-earth, very realistic, and all around wonderful character. Could it be that this big-boned young warrior symbolizes Lady Justice herself? I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of mess Nora gets herself into next.