FATAL FLAW by Phillip Finch


A True Story of Malice and Murder in a Small Southern Town
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 Torpid, confusing, and inconclusive account of a multiple murder. On Christmas Eve 1975 in Winter Garden, Florida--a town of 6,000 located nine miles from Disneyland--five corpses killed by gunshot, and eight handguns, were discovered on the floor of a local furniture store. Additionally, the store-owner's son, Tommy Ziegler, who called the police, had a gunshot wound through the abdomen. But, unfortunately, thriller-novelist/journalist Finch (Sugarland, 1991, etc.) forces the reader to plough through 75 pages in order to piece together this information. The victims turned out to be Ziegler's wife, his in-laws, and two black men of Ziegler's acquaintance--another fact that it takes the reader some sleuthing to uncover. Ziegler was charged with murder, the D.A.'s theory being that his motive was a recent increase in the life insurance on his wife; that the in-laws were at the murder scene by happenstance and were killed for what they had witnessed, while the black men were shot to make the crime look like a robbery-turned-violent; and that Ziegler--who was once a medic in the Reserves--knew how to shoot himself safely. Finch, however, believes that Ziegler did not commit the murders, and he makes much of the apparent prejudice of the judge who tried the case; of mistakes in the gathering and processing of forensic information; and of improper behavior by juror members. The author also implies that the dark hand of the Mafia was behind the crimes. Finch scratches out sufficient evidence to create a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of Ziegler, who's now on death row. It's a shame, though, that he does so in such a torturously convoluted way. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-679-40861-4
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1992


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