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After a highly respected black professor and Vietnam vet is charged with 28 counts of murder, his favorite niece takes on his legal defense.

Vaughn Robinson, a professor at a community college in Florida, is a black activist of the most radical kind: In order to liberate the souls of lost young black men who have embraced the temporary pleasures of thug life, he murders them with hemlock. When police discover the two most recent victims in Vaughn’s home, he freely admits his guilt, announces the unsuspected extent of his crimes over the past 26 years and blithely awaits his fate. His niece Trina, a rising young star in a prestigious law firm, convinces her mentor, Ann, that they should undertake the professor’s defense. At the same time, Trina is caught in a web of other emotional complexities: preparing for her marriage, trying to save her brother from the streets and struggling with an attraction to a local country singer. Meanwhile, Ann has secretly been defrauding the law firm and cheating on her husband with Trina’s fiancé. The author’s premise–that a radical intellectual would become a vigilante serial killer for what he thinks is the purest possible reason–is chillingly appealing. At the same time, Ann and Trina are caught in situations that indicate truth is indeed shaped and fractured by social, behavioral and ethnic parameters–in addition to an individual’s personal motivations and circumstances. Unfortunately, other than the serial killer, none of the characters is particularly likable. While this may be Nash’s intent–to demonstrate the shallowness of human nature–readers will find it difficult to invest in any of the characters. Also, the pacing is halting, and key sections of the story are considerably underdeveloped or just patently unbelievable.

A compelling premise marred by the author’s flawed narrative technique.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 2005
ISBN: 978-0-595-36503-6
Program: Kirkus Indie
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