BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH by Richard Hammer

BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

While no one could exonerate John Brady of the felony-murder he committed in 1958, Mr. Hammer has told his story with a certain extenuating sympathy for Brady's really unfortunate background and protest against the operative processes which led to his remaining for ten years in a cell on death row. Brady, after a messy personal history (unwanted child; crackup; broken marriage; etc.), was 25 when he teamed up with Donald Boblit (the brother of the married woman with whom he was shacking up) to rob a bank. On the way to the bank, Boblit killed a man (coshing him), claimed that Brady was the murderer, eventually reversed his statement. Brady preceded Boblit to Death Row by a short time; eventually an appeal was undertaken and implemented with the help of a Civil Liberties Union lawyer; during this time the nationwide move to abolish capital punishment stalled all activity in the new gas chamber in Anne Arundel county; but Brady -- who only saw the light of day once during this time -- died a little more every day. The story is filled with interesting particulars (Brady running guns to Cuba; the murder of his mother while he was in jail) although it has none of the enigmatic conjecture of Edgar Smith's stronger Brief Against Death (p.747) of last year. It should attract a similar market however -- it is well written and stringently attacks the obsolescent aspects of crime and punishment in our time.

Pub Date: May 19th, 1969
Publisher: Macmillan