Another sale book – (I’ve got a few much better novels lined up but … )
This is interesting in some ways but the “thriller” aspect of it seems really tacked on. It’s a straight legal fiction involving the death penalty and autism with a good twist and a bit of nerves.
by Joseph T. Klemner
2003 – 224 pages
read by David de Vries – 8h 21m
A young black man, Wesley Boyd Davies has been sentenced to death in the state of Virginia. His case is based on the horrific death of a little white girl back in 1985. He’s been incarcerated for about 15 years. All appeals have been used except for one last possibility. (“As long as the prisoner is breathing there’s hope.) A team of Reality Court-TV producers have taken up the case and appealed to an old anti-death penalty retired judge, August Jorgenson, to join them.
Here in 2017, it’s a bit of a stretch to imagine reality TV going so far as the Supreme Court, but that’s a core plot element in Fogbound. There are other reasons to suspend disbelief, but it’s worth it.
August is a rather eccentric man who lives with his dog in a lighthouse without a telephone. He reads and putters and drives his battered old truck around.
The autism of Boyd includes an uncanny ability to draw completely realistic depictions of what he sees or remembers seeing. He’s almost uncommunicative in all other ways. Never learned how to read or write – his mother basically looked after him after he dropped out of school until he was arrested.
The story gets going through one of the drawings and August’s poking around at the details of the case although the only thing the Trial-TV people appear to want is for someone to stand in front of the Supreme Court and give a speech.
It’s very interesting material and for the first half it’s a lot of “tell” not “show.” In some cases that’s okay – it works here. The second half has some thriller aspects.
The chronology of the narrative is completely straightforward occasionally switching between Jorgenson’s research and the production crew. Jorgenson’s sections are mostly “tell” rather than “show.” Only the character of August Jorgenson is in any way developed but he’s great – like when August gets a room in a very small hotel with a black woman proprietor who also feeds him.
Overall it’s a fun read if you enjoy legal dramas.