Kirkus Reviews QR Code
FINAL JUSTICE by Steven Naifeh


The True Story of the Richest Man Ever Tried for Murder

by Steven Naifeh & Gregory White Smith

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1993
ISBN: 0-525-93452-9
Publisher: Dutton

 Sweeping murder-and-megabucks true-life gothic, Texas-style. On the night of August 2, 1976, police responded to an emergency call in a well-to-do Fort Worth suburb--and found four gunshot victims: two children (one dead and one wounded) of centimillionaire Cullen Davis; Davis's estranged wife, Priscilla, wounded; and a visitor, dead. The survivors fingered Davis as the triggerman. Here, in their fourth collaboration (the Pulitzer- winning Jackson Pollock, 1990, etc.), Naifeh and Smith immediately get to the high stakes: Worth $700 million, Davis was, at the time, the richest man in Texas and was fearful of being picked clean by Priscilla in their upcoming divorce. Charged with capital murder, Davis called in legendary lawyer Richard ``Racehorse'' Haynes, to whom the impossible was routine. A titanic courtroom struggle ensued, with Haynes trying to convince the jury that Priscilla was the perpetrator, not a victim. The authors' detailed examination of Haynes--part Rasputin; part psychologist; part salesman; part legal sleuth and scholar--is hypnotic and fascinating. Also gripping is their cutting back and forth from the courtroom to the dissolute night life that Priscilla (addicted to 25 Percodans a day) led in the slimy Texas underbelly (mixing with characters like the hoodlum with the ``fleshy face of indeterminate age, ruddy cheeks around a drinker's nose, disappearing hair, a screaming-print blue Hawaiian shirt, and a sharkskin suit the color of lima beans''). In this longest trial in Texas history, Haynes, working against almost irrefutable evidence (``a good lawyer is a master of illusion'') got Davis off on all charges. Fine writing, Kodachrome vision, and superintense drama: a real plum for true-crime fans. (Eight pages of b&w photographs- -not seen)