A meticulous, intuitive, and riveting nonfiction work.


Lawyer Games: After Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

In his true-crime debut, Kirkland uses firsthand experience and trial records to tell the story of a Savannah, Georgia, shooting death that spawned a best-selling book and movie.

In May 1981, James Williams shot and killed Danny Hansford, purportedly in self-defense. To the initial responders, though, the scene appeared staged. (One of them was Kirkland, who was chief assistant district attorney at the time.) For example, the Luger pistol that Hansford allegedly fired at Williams was under, not in, the deceased’s hand. The state’s case against Williams would go on for years, spawning multiple trials featuring some legal scheming, including surprise witnesses whose testimonies may not have been true. Kirkland pieces together his personal account—he was a part of the prosecution team for the first of four trials—with careful, comprehensive examinations of court documents. His stance is abundantly clear: he believes that Williams was guilty. He isn’t above sardonicism, though; at one point, he suggests that the circumstances of the defense’s new evidence spelled “F-A-B-R-I-C-A-T-I-O-N in large red letters.” That said, he doesn’t sour his book with constant derision or denunciation. In fact, he typically allows readers to make their own judgments based on the facts, making his points with legal transcripts or testimony summaries. Williams, for example, repeatedly changed his story regarding the night of Hansford’s death; by the third trial, Kirkland simply reminds readers what Williams previously claimed. This nonfiction book often resembles a torrid TV drama as potential witnesses for the prosecution abruptly decide not to testify and more than one conviction is reversed. Other events are outright eerie, such as missing autopsy photos and Williams’ response to Kirkland concerning his imminent arrest: “If I’d wanted to, I could have shot you.” The author rounds out his book with his own scenario of the shooting based on the evidence. He also offers his thoughts on John Berendt’s best-selling book on the crime, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and Clint Eastwood’s subsequent movie version.

A meticulous, intuitive, and riveting nonfiction work.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-45-754199-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2015

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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