The Roy Moody Mail Bomb Murders
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 A disciplined, incisive reconstruction of one of the century's most notorious crimes: the 1989 mail-bomb assassination of a federal judge and an NAACP attorney. After Jenkins won a Pulitzer in 1954 for reporting on the assassination of a Georgia state attorney general, he turned to covering the burgeoning civil rights movement. In the three principals of this story he finds symbols of the South's reaction to that turbulent period: Judge Robert Vance, the privileged white who embraced desegregation as a moral imperative; Robert Robinson, the black activist and community leader who demanded progress; and Roy Moody, the lower-class white ``who was left behind in the class conflict and became bitterly obsessed with his perception of injustice in the changing order.'' Jenkins's dual background as a lawyer and journalist serves him well in this bizarre case: He combines reportorial objectivity with the methodicalness (and the artful storytelling) of a prosecutor laying a damning case before a jury, insightfully describing the workings of the judicial system and the mechanics of a jury trial. He diligently traces the backgrounds and family histories of all three men, but it's Moody-- a highly intelligent sociopath who nurses an aggrandized sense of victimization--who steals the show. Relying heavily on trial transcripts and psychiatric reports, Jenkins delves into the troubled criminal mind of the erratic misfit convicted of the bombings following ``the largest manhunt in history.'' One report, written by Dr. Park Elliot Dietz, the renowned forensic psychiatrist who examined John Hinckley, contributes the most extensive insight into Moody's motives and modus operandi. It also provides Jenkins's biggest scoop: The report, never admitted as evidence because of Moody's last-minute rejection of his lawyer's planned insanity defense, is here examined at length for the first time. Jenkins's recounting of the crimes, investigation, and trial is as suspenseful as his wide-net harvest of historical context is enlightening. (20 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8203-1906-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Univ. of Georgia
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1997