Ultraprolific Parks (A Season With Verona, 2002, etc.) returns to fiction with this account of a minority judge’s journey into jurisprudence and scandal.
The justice of the courtroom battles the justice of love in the confused and sometimes overly wordy mind of Daniel Savage, a non-white judge in the wig-wearing British legal system. Recently appointed to the bench, Savage hears of men who molest retarded girls and men who snap their children’s wrists. But can he pass judgment on them when he’s cheated on his wife Hilary with so many women and on occasion been rough with his own children? Just when Savage receives his judgeship, he hears from Minnie, the Korean woman with whom he began an affair while she was sitting on the jury of a case he was trying as a lawyer. Or is it his peculiar daughter who is sending the messages that threaten to destroy Daniel and Hilary’s transition after 20 years of marriage into a new home and middle age? Daniel begins to obsess over Minnie as he sits his bench, and when he tries to find her, the young woman’s family arranges to have him beaten. He spends some time in a coma, comes out of it as a media sensation, but will his fame be enough to rescue Minnie? And will it cost him his marriage and whatever dignity he’s managed? By the end of it Judge Savage will learn that life is like the courtroom: “All human experience is essentially the same,” says his friend Martin. “The condemned and the acquitted. All matter and no matter. The outcome of any trial is irrelevant.” Parks perhaps spends a bit more time in interior monologue than some would prescribe, but the stream of consciousness rings true, and his judge comes nicely to life in stress and tribulation.
Another worthy effort from a reliable source.