LOUD AND CLEAR by Lake with William Hoffman Headley


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Private investigator Headly and veteran writer Hoffman (By Land, By Sea, 1988, etc.), coauthors of The Court-Martial of Clayton Lonetree (1989), collaborate again with this fitfully compelling but excessively subjective version of Headley's uncovering of a flubbed prosecution that put the wrong man on Arizona's death row. Max Dunlap and James Robison were convicted of the sensational 1976 car-bombing murder of investigative reporter Don Bolles, a decision that the Arizona Supreme Court overturned in 1980. The account here opens with the death of Bolles in Phoenix and quickly jumps to the postconviction efforts of Headley, hired to prove the innocence of Dunlap and, secondarily, of Robison. But with clichÉ-ridden narrative and dump-your-notebook organization, it is sometimes difficult to follow Headley's tracks. The p.i. delves into the defense discovery file and finds motivation for his efforts and hope for his clients in ""the weakness of the police version of the murder; and evidence in the discovery material of a vast, largely untapped mother lode for the defense."" He dissects the police version and follows up on ignored leads, overlooked implications, and, in some cases, blatant cover-ups. He visits the two death-row inmates 70 times and cultivates the press. And he also uncovers startling tidbits: an informant who said he tipped off police about the Bolles murder; the purging by police of an important file with information about the man Headley believes responsible for the murder; Barry Goldwater's intercession on behalf of an imprisoned man who happened to be Goldwater's bookie. Ultimately, however, the investigation is for naught, as the Arizona Supreme Court hands down in 1980 its decision that Dunlap and Robison's rights have been violated. There have been no new trials. Rife with judgments and labels (""sleaze"" being just one) and superfluous woozy details of Headley's personal life (driving with his girlfriend, ""bathing our souls in what Rod McKuen called gentle"") that detract from the authors' presentation. Still, dramatic enough to have already sold to Universal for a four-part TV miniseries.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1990
Publisher: Henry Holt