A legal thriller written by, and from the viewpoint of, a federal judge.
A drive-by shooting in the central Massachusetts city of Holyoke kills two people, including a Puerto Rican man and a middle-class white woman. The state has no death penalty, but the case is moved to federal court, where a death sentence is possible. A black man, Moon Hudson, stands accused of capital murder and drug dealing. Innocent or guilty, Hudson is no angel, and some in his neighborhood want him to get the lethal injection that the prosecutor is looking for. The Honorable David Norcross must preside over the trial in which a pair of smart, determined attorneys face off against each other. Can Norcross ensure a fair trial and prevent a circus? Woven into the tale is the true story of two Massachusetts men hanged in 1806 on the basis of spurious testimony. As Irish Catholics, the accused didn’t stand a chance—they truly faced a hanging judge. But Judge Norcross is nothing like that, being portrayed as a thoroughly professional judge and a likable widower whose idea of profanity is saying “Criminey!” He falls in love with a woman, providing a subplot that threatens to ruin the trial but otherwise highlights the judge’s humanity. Meanwhile, there are plenty of surprises to keep readers turning pages. Ponsor gives readers a unique look into the workings of a courtroom. But more than that, he demonstrates a feel for how ordinary families are affected by the legal system.
Ponsor’s debut would make a great movie.