Investigative journalist Klaber and political scientist Melanson, curator of the Kennedy Assassination Archives at the...

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"SHADOW PLAY: The Murder of Robert F. Kennedy, the Trial of Sirhan Sirhan, and the Failure of American Justice"

Investigative journalist Klaber and political scientist Melanson, curator of the Kennedy Assassination Archives at the University of Massachusetts, reopen the RFK assassination in an exhaustive and intriguing study. Klaber and Melanson tell the story of the police investigation (Sirhan Sirhan, eventually convicted of the murder, was taken into custody immediately), the trial, and the 20-year battle with the LAPD over crucial files that seem to have disappeared, as have the only photographs of the shooting by a supposedly lone gunman, which took place at L.A.'s Ambassador Hotel on June 4, 1968, at a celebration of Kennedy's victory that day in the California primary. The authors show that the police investigation and the trial glossed over key pieces of evidence, such as the reported hurried departure of a mysterious couple from the hotel moments after the shooting (reported by a respected police investigator), the testimony of several witnesses that Sirhan was accompanied by an attractive woman in a polka-dot dress, and substantial ballistic evidence that some of the shots fired did not come from Sirhan's gun. The authors point out that both the prosecution and the defense in the trial raised significant questions about whether the ballistic exhibits were properly preserved. Ending with a narrative of a 1993 interview with Sirhan in prison--in which he reiterates his admission of guilt, his denial that he worked with anyone, his motive, and his courtroom contention that he had only hazy memories of the events leading to the assassination and no actual memory of the shooting itself. The authors draw no conclusions from their account, other than that neither the investigation nor the trial have adequately explained the assassination. An eye-opening review of the evidentiary discrepancies that are possible in a celebrated criminal case, even one with over 70 witnesses and an admission of guilt by the accused.

Pub Date: May 29, 1997

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997