THE MURDER TRIAL OF JUDGE PEEL by Jim Bishop

THE MURDER TRIAL OF JUDGE PEEL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Columnist Jim Bishop who recently proctored one of the many TV trials of Hitler's own Eichmann is back in the courtroom again. Only this time the defendant's far less momentous, Palm Beach's Joseph Peel, a municipal judge and twinkle-eyed scoundrel, accused of doing in fellow bench-warmer Curtis Chillingworth, of the superior court. Mr. Bishop's reconstruction is well-ordered and well-observed, a stunning form of journalistic jazz, cool, crisp and all on one note, like a headline. Pearly-toothed Peel made only $3000 a year, officially, but he drove a Caddie, his wife a Lincoln; with Holzapfel, two-bit mechanic turned gunman, and Lincoln, ice-faced poolroom shark, he engaged in rackets protection. Old guard Chillingworth lived by the clock and Blackstone's, he symbolized quick death to all shysters. Under Peel's orders, Holzapfel and Lincoln drowned the judge along with his wife, and all three for a time escaped detection. But successful murder is ""like an ardent kiss"", it needs to be repeated, and, while pearly Joe began plotting the demise of a few others, including his henchmen, undercover agents and the Florida Sheriff's Bureau started infiltrating the underground. Eventually Lincoln gave state's evidence, Holzapfel ditto without immunity, crying ""We should all be stamped out like cockroaches"", and steely-jawed prosecutor O'Connor, one-time Peel buddy, hounded our hero and his jury till the verdict guilty was brought in. Bishop's portrait of Peel & Co. is smart, sharp and full of photographic depth; the plush beach front set, the local politicos, the colorful psychopaths all merge marvelously into an uncomplicated complex of overt and covert mayhem. A simple, speedy, thoroughly satisfying thriller; definitely not for the Sybille Bedford fans.

Pub Date: April 17th, 1962
Publisher: Simon & Schuster