THE LAST SENTENCE by Jonathan Goodman


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Criminologist Goodman wrote The Killing of Julia Wallace (1977), the reappraisal of a famous true crime; the narrator here has very similarly written The Killing of Delia Willis. So when an old, sick man named George Palermo suddenly confesses to the long-ago, never-resolved Willis murder, the narrator (who's never heard of Palermo) is interested, especially when Palermo is then poisoned, his body decorated with sauces to simulate the blood and semen found on Delia Willis' body. Sleuthing naturally ensues: chats with the people involved in the Willis case, all of whom might have wanted revenge on Palermo--the two now-grown Willis kids, friends of Mr. Willis (who died soon after being acquitted of the murder). And the narrator also jaws at length with his witty father-in-law--who was Mr. Willis' defense attorney. The resulting novel is slow and talky (with some mighty dÉjà vu for those familiar with the Wallace case); but the suspects are an interesting bunch, the tone is coolly elegant (just slightly tongue-in-cheek), and there's a least-likely-person solution that's quite satisfying. Stylish entertainment--in a very downbeat, very British, true-crime-flavored mode.

Pub Date: June 20th, 1980
Publisher: St. Martin's