A bracing, spirited true-crime narrative that reads like fiction but is very much real and rooted in the brutality and...

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ALMOST A MURDER

A novice attorney struggles with one of the most challenging and melodramatic cases of his young career.

For this serpentine, true-crime dramatic depiction, novelist and essayist Seay (Dead in a Ditch, 2011, etc.) effectively collaborated with debut author Lloyd, an Oklahoma litigator who, in distinctive detail, describes the yearlong, first-degree murder case that would shake up his early days in the courtroom. Escorting Seay to the Oklahoma locations crucial to the events and drawing from a memory bolstered by a trove of newspaper articles and court transcripts, Lloyd engrossingly pieces together a story of crime and blame. The case began in 1982, a time when Lloyd, a cub lawyer having only tried (and lost) one jury trial, was engulfed in grief after losing his newborn son. He channeled great effort into examining a homicide involving Noi Kanchana Mitchell, a wife charged with the ruthless murder of her husband, Bobby, in a case that, in Lloyd’s words, would take “all of the energy and physical reserve I could muster” and  endanger his marriage and jeopardize his financial stability. Thankfully, this intriguing setup delivers on all of its promises as readers are immediately thrust into the story of Bobby Mitchell and his Thai wife, Noi, and the nagging feeling Lloyd experienced that she was innocent of his murder even though the odds were stacked against her. The primary evidence, which pointed to her direct involvement in her husband’s strangling, shooting, and corpse disposal, included the statements of an accomplice and Noi’s audiotaped confession. Upon questioning her, the attorney discovered a language barrier and some emotional trauma, which became problematic to sleuthing the case. Lloyd, clever and determined, discounted Noi’s confession, believing it to have been coerced by police, and through preliminary hearings, courtroom dramatics, key witnesses, misled speculation, and cruel accusations, the truth, while untidy, finally emerged in grand fashion. Despite three trials, fluctuating self-confidence, and numerous roadblocks, Lloyd triumphed. His tale provides tantalizing, exhilarating fodder for Seay to mold and craft into a rollicking murder trial that moves swiftly despite a surfeit of heavily detailed events and many supporting characters. Besides enticing Perry Mason fans, this book should please readers devilishly curious about the intricate workings of the justice system and the trial-by-jury process.  

A bracing, spirited true-crime narrative that reads like fiction but is very much real and rooted in the brutality and injustices of contemporary life.  

Pub Date: June 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-938282-21-8

Page Count: 380

Publisher: Koho Pono

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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