Retired FBI agent Ressler, who again teams up with Schactman (Whoever Fights Monsters, 1992), reveals here that modern American justice is served very, very slowly. When Ressler moved to the Cleveland office in 1974, he was handed an ``old dog,'' FBI slang for a hard case to close. Cleveland's king of X-rated motels, Owen Kilbane, was suspected of violating racketeering laws by moving his prostitutes between states. But Ressler was less interested in the prostitution ring than in Kilbane's lawyer, Robert Steele. Five years earlier, Steele's wife had been shot dead in her suburban home while she slept. Almost immediately, the police had suspected Steele, then a prominent judge who'd been having an affair and was known to have inquired about finding someone to murder his wife. Steele resigned from the bench when details of his adultery emerged, but no witnesses came forward, and because of a celebrated case in which the conviction of a doctor for killing his wife had recently been overturned on appeal, the police hesitated to push for an indictment without iron-clad evidence. Gradually, Ressler gathered information about Kilbane's criminal activities and cultivated informants. With tips from disgruntled prostitutes and a confession from the shooter, who was jailed for another murder, Ressler built a case. After three years of dogged pursuit, Kilbane and his brother Martin, as well as Steele were convicted of arranging Marlene Steele's murder. The problem here is that, while Ressler's detailed account of his pursuit is the sign of a dedicated agent, it's not necessarily the sign of a good writer. This reads like a case file—a litany of details spiced with pinches of bravado but without any real surprises. The moral of this true crime tale is, if there's a will, there's a way, which may be needed encouragement for readers plowing through Justice Is Served.
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