PERFECT JUSTICE by William Bernhardt


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 No rest for Tulsa lawyer Ben Kincaid: his vacation in Arkansas ends with a bang when he's dragooned into defending a white supremacist for the murder of a Vietnamese immigrant--and finds that he's stepped into a minefield of racial hatred. At first the accused, Donald Vick, refuses to say a word to Ben except to insist that he plead him guilty. Circumstances strongly suggest that he's right: as a fourth-generation member of the Anglo- Saxon Patrol (ASP), the defendant was sworn to protect Aryan America from ``gooks'' of whatever stripe--and he'd been in a well-observed fistfight with the victim, Tommy Vuong, in a bar only a few hours before somebody shot Vuong with an ASP crossbow and burned a cross over his dying body. The townsfolk, revolted by ASP's race-baiting, close ranks against Vick so completely that Ben can't even find a place to spend the night; to his disgust he's followed everywhere by an ASP bodyguard ordered to protect him from attacks by the very people who ought to be his natural allies--from brass-knuckled anti- ASP teenager Garth Amick to Belinda Hamilton, founder of Hatewatch. Nor can Ben do much for his client in the courtroom even after he's able to persuade him to change his plea: witness after witness nails the lid down tighter, and when Vick takes the stand, he reveals that under the ASP warpaint, he's just another confused, sensitive man of the 90's--and then takes the fifth as soon as the cross-examination heats up. Is there any hope for such a hopeless defense? Not until after a rash of shootings and firebombings--by equally misguided firebrands from the Vietnamese community and the ASP--and a climactic church blaze that adds every clichÇ of the male gothic to the courtroom intrigue. Ben's well-meaning hardcover debut (after three paperback outings) is broad and crude: a pre-Grisham novel in a world of infinitely shrewder post-Grisham competitors.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-345-38028-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1993


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