Book Review: The Hanging Judge, Michael A. Posner

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Description from NetGalley:

Based on the experience of the author, a federal judge who in 2000 presided over the first capital case in Massachusetts in more than fifty years, this extraordinary debut thriller offers an unprecedented inside view of a federal death penalty trial

When a drive-by shooting in Holyoke, Massachusetts, claims the lives of a Puerto Rican drug dealer and a nurse at a neighborhood clinic, the police arrest a black drug dealer. With no death penalty in Massachusetts, the US attorney shifts the double homicide out of state jurisdiction into federal court so he can seek a death sentence.

The Honorable David S. Norcross, with only two years’ experience on the federal bench, now presides overthe first death penalty case in the state in fifty years. Not only must he contend with an ambitious female prosecutor and a brilliant veteran defense attorney, but with citizens outraged at the senseless killing of a white, middle-class bystander; the media; anti–death penalty protesters; vengeful gang members; and the million things that can go wrong in a capital trial.

Release Date: December 3, 2013

This review is written on behalf of the publisher as requested for a free copy from NetGalley

Lives are intertwined by a violent act – how would a drive-by affect your life? As a person who is far outside the circles of gang violence I cannot even begin to fathom how my life would change after such an event.  What about being the man or woman on the bench? How would your life be altered permanently if you are being told your newest case will be the first capital punishment case in over a century?  Net yet have I had the privilege of reading a book, fiction or non-fiction, written by a judge/former judge.  So this was very much a pleasure because as a reader we get the chance to watch the story unfold from the perspective of the bench.  Many crime/mystery/court room drama stories are told from the point of view of the lawyers, criminal, or even the victim, leaving the man or woman overseeing the courtroom proceedings in the background; this time, however, the author pulled from their own personal experiences as a federal judge to delve us into this world and the crime that has been committed.

The life of the honorable David Norcross, newly appointed Federal Judge for Massachusetts will forever be altered by the present case in front of him; the State of Massachusetts vs. Clarence “Moon” Hudson; not just his personal life, but his professional life has a chance at being altered as well.  First his personal life; as a widower of five years he’s finally starting to date again, and this case threatens to dampen his newly budding relationship with one Dr. Claire Lindemann, associate professor at UMASS.  How he handles the implications surrounding the possible death penalty phase of this case will forever change his view on the judicial system.  The question of right and wrong as it applies to the death penalty are raised several times throughout the novel as our Honorable Judge waffles back and forth, can he in essence sentence a man claiming innocence to death?  The answer to this is solely on the shoulders of the respective attorney’s working the case and the members of the public chosen to sit on the jury.  There is an underlying theme of this novel and that is one of a fair trial – throughout the book the reader is told the story of two innocent men, of Irish Catholic Descent, being unfairly tried, convicted, and executed for a crime they were later found innocent of committing.  This case from over a century prior weighs heavily on David’s mind as he lays comparison to the case presently in front of him and this one from an age seemingly long ago.  Judge Norcross is being told by the Federal Courts that Clarence needs to be executed, and used as an example of how the state punishes those who participate in racketeering and murder on behalf of street gangs.

As a reader I found this novel, the pace, and character development done extremely well, the way the lives of the characters are intertwined perfectly and the way the author weaves their back stories into the present.  The author does this in such a way that the reader feels for each person individually and how their personal plight and perspective unfolds.  This is one I will wholeheartedly recommend to any crime/courtroom drama lover!

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Hanging Judge, Michael A. Posner

  1. I am always looking for new books to check out from the library and for my kindle. This looks like one I should add to my list 🙂 I saw your post on bloggy moms and following you by email now. I look forward to your future posts!

    • So glad to hear that this one grabbed your interest! Put a lot of time off to the side to read this one 😉 You’ll need it! It’ll pull you in from the off! If you like this one, you may also want to read “Hidden Agenda” by Peter S. Berman, another one that’s very interesting!

  2. Pingback: Review – The Hanging Judge by Michael Ponsor | kalireads

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