ILLEGAL MOTION by Grif Stockley


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 The who's-lying rape trial of a pro-caliber black Arkansas football player: an incendiary scenario handled in Stockley's most ruminative vein. Actually, defense attorney Gideon Page (Religious Conviction, 1994, etc.) doesn't even get to go to trial until the closing pages. Before he can make a case that stellar running back Dade Cunningham couldn't have raped straight-A cheerleader Robin Perry because she was perfectly willingin fact, came on to him in the isolated house where she was supposed to be helping him work on a speechhe first has to get the case. (His cynical motive: If he gets Dade off, he may be the lucky lawyer chosen to negotiate his pro contract.) Then he has to convince the Razorbacks' coach not to throw Dade off the team, go to bat for Dade at the university's judiciary hearing, line up convincing character witnesses, and fret endlessly about the chances of a jury's believing a black defendant over his white accuser. Meantime, there are Gideon's other clients (a hooker who may have scalded her baby deliberately, an ex-cop desperate to evict his son); the continuing saga of his love life (off-again girlfriend Rainey McCorkle announces her engagement while his younger colleague Amy Gilchrist takes her place, but not really, as his lover); and daughter Sarah, a sophomore at Arkansas who is always ready to bend his ear about rape and male oppression and to make him look into the story that he and Dade may be closer than he knows. Because Gideon, unlike other fictional lawyers, takes every side of every question seriously, the legal arguments here all turn out to be arguments with himself. Stockley has just about perfected this formula: legal intrigue as psychomachia. Fans who aren't put off by Gideon's incessant reflections on the big issues buried in the simplest remarks will probably love spending another few hours with this decent, uncertain man.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-671-88697-5
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1995


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