Here's where I'd insert a spoiler alert, except other
reviewers before me have already ruined the surprise of the verdict: Byron Case was found guilty
of 1st degree murder in a 2002 judgment. The verdict wasn't what made
this book interesting, though. Allen broke from the rules of genre to
come up with something that wasn't a whodunit, a profile, or even a
dramatized narrative of the crime. Instead, he concerned himself with a
"Dragnet"-like interest in "just the facts." He deconstructed the
evidence, walked the reader through his research, and came away with
some truly unsettling conclusions. It's amazing that nobody yet has
spilled the beans about those conclusions in a review (and I'm not
about to), but wow.
The review below was posted at Amazon.com by a "real-life" reader.
Click the cover at the right to visit Amazon and take a look inside
"The Skeptical Juror and the Trial of Byron Case."
We're confident you'll want to read the entire book.
Rabid Reader, July 11, 2010
I don't read true-crime books, as a general rule. Before I read this
one the closest I ever came was Truman Capote's accomplished "In Cold
Blood." And let me be clear, "The Skeptical Juror and the Trial of
Byron Case" was nowhere close to that highfalutin level of literature.
Then again, it didn't try to be. What it was was an accessible but
exacting introduction to state criminal court and to jury duty. It was
also an unflinching look at one particular murder trial. It was not
what I expected.
I liked this book. I liked it so much I read it in two days. Then
again, "liked" is the wrong word. In spite of Allen's obvious effort to
break up the tedium of some longer testimonies, using asides of
sometimes questionable humor and distracting (but fascinating) local
history, the first of the book's three "acts" was slow going. Once I
made it through Act One, however, it all paid off. I was compelled,
pulled along by a gnawing curiosity about where the evidence led. By
Act Three, I felt like a private eye. Then bits and pieces came
together and I felt sick to my stomach.
The only thing the ending left to be desired was a resolution, but
that's a problem with the reality of Allen's source material, not with
the author himself. After I put the book down, I had a hard time
getting over my anger (yes, anger!) at how it all turned out. Not even
Capote managed that strong a reaction, so there's obviously something
to be said for Allen's hot-dog-eating, Mt.-Dew-swigging
plain-spokenness. I will definitely look out for the release of the two
other "Skeptical Juror" titles mentioned as "forthcoming."