IN THE FAST LANE by Carol Soret Cope


A True Story of Murder in Miami
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 The cocaine-and-cash-fueled high life of South Florida in the 1980's serves as glittering backdrop for this ambitious, if uneven, true-crime debut from Miami attorney Cope. Zipping from their Coconut Grove mansion to their 650-acre Colorado ranch in a jet-set whirl of sailing, skiing, and vigorous late-night partying, multimillionaire Stanley Cohen and his exotically beautiful, much younger fourth wife, Joyce, seemed to have ``the perfect life''--until Miami police found Cohen in bed with three bullet holes in his head. Detectives immediately tabbed the grieving Joyce as their prime suspect but, in the absence of conclusive proof, few expected her eventual conviction. Following the story from the crime to the final, unsuccessful appeal of Joyce's life sentence, Cope--who had access to most of the principals as well as to investigators and attorneys on both sides- -does a good job of detailing the painstaking process of constructing a case from almost purely circumstantial evidence- -gunpowder traces on a discarded tissue; troubling time discrepancies; odd long-distance phone calls; conflicting autopsy reports. But although her scenario persuades, Cope fails to deliver the knockout punch necessary to move the narrative from a sad and violent tale to a truly compelling saga of good vs. evil. Her obvious, never fully realized, attempt to portray the Cohen marriage and its bloody conclusion as emblematic of the excesses of the time leaves the story cluttered with confusing red herrings (e.g., the unrelated story that begins the text, of a young Miamian's extravagant vacation). Similarly disappointing are the flat characterizations and an odd structure that saves the author's most revealing material (and best writing)--an account of Joyce's troubled childhood--for last. Solid criminology, weak sociology, and just compelling enough to satisfy hungry true-crime fans. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-73026-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993