About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Murdered Midas by Charlotte Gray

(30. - 1055.) Murdered Midas by Charlotte Gray (A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise) - Murdered Midas won the 2020 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Non-Fiction. While interested in reading the winning book I was more drawn to the book as I wanted to know who Gray thought murdered Sir Harry. In 2014 I read Who Killed Sir Harry by Eric Minns. While titled a novel it was more a non-fiction recounting of Sir Harry’s death and the subsequent trial of his son-in-law, Count Alfred de Marigny, for murder. While Who Killed Sir Harry was not a well written book I was fascinated with the murder and trial. I wrote a post on who I thought had killed Sir Harry.

Murdered Midas opens with Harry Oates, 37 years old, and still searching for his big strike. For over 15 years he has pursued gold in the Klondike, Australia and California. His methodical approach to prospecting has yet to be successful. Gray recounts how most prospectors find silver or gold by luck.

Gray provides a vivid picture of the rough tough prospecting days of the first decade of the 20th Century in northern Ontario. The first rush was for silver. Millions of ounces of silver were mined. Oakes arrived shortly after the second rush for gold was underway. 

He climbs off the train in 1911 at the community of Swastika (The Nazi adoption of the symbol was decades into the future.)

Swastika was the closest town on the railway to Kirkland Lake. Oakes, while broke by the time he arrived, had studied government information on claims in the area and the rock formations. He thought the significant amount of porphyry indicated gold. As the whole area was staked he waited to re-file some claims that were expiring because the original prospectors had not developed them.

Determining which claims he wanted to re-file was hard work:

…. Working thigh-deep in mukeg and bogs, and sleeping in either his tent or one of three lean-to shelters he had fashioned out of sacks and sticks.

On a frigid night, as low as -50, Oakes and the Tough brothers re-stake claims adjacent to Kirkland Lake. Oates had developed a theory that gold veins in the area ran under lakes.

Oates has been raising money from his family in Maine for over two decades and they stake him again. In true Hollywood timing, down to his last dollars he orders his men to dig deep under Kirkland Lake where they find the vein of gold 12 metres deep that will fund his fortune. It is 1916 and the 42 year old prospector has found his strike.

Determined to develop, not sell the claims he works hard to generate the investments that allow him to build the Lake Shore Mine. Retaining almost 50% of the shares he becomes immensely wealthy. 

In the 1920’s he marries a lovely Australian woman, Eunice, whom he had met on a ship bound for South Africa. They have 5 children.

Angry over changes to Canada’s tax laws in the 1930’s he considers punitive he leaves for the Florida where he will pay less income tax.

He is lured from America to the Bahamas where he will pay no personal income tax. Harold Christie, a great real estate promoter, convinces Oakes of the opportunities as well as the tax freedom of the Bahamas. After the arrival of Oakes on the island of New Providence Christie sells him vast areas of island real estate.

Oakes has little patience with the colonial elite of Nassau. He goes to work on his lands with the zeal he had as a prospector. Occasionally he personally takes command of his bulldozer. The boredom of his days after developing the Lakeshore Mine is gone.

By the start of WW II he owns a huge amount of land on New Providence but he is having to weigh his expenditures as dividends have been in decline for some years as ore production declines at the mine.

The Duke of Windsor and his wife, Wallis Simpson, appointed as Governor of the Bahamas in 1940 are eagerly embraced by white society. They have fame. No couple was better known in the world. While their presence, especially the Duke, is inevitable in any biography of Oakes the Duke and Duchess did not have a major part in the life of the Oakes family. (As will be discussed as part of my next post the Duke had an important role after the death of Sir Harry.) While their official residence was being rebuilt Oakes generously provides the couple with one of his homes. In return the Royals bring disdain. The Duchess  disparaged the lovely Westbourne as “a shack by the sea”.

There is turmoil in the Oakes famiy from the marriage in 1942 between “Count” Marie Alfred Fonquereaux de Marigny and Nancy Oates, two days after her 18th birthday. He was almost twice her age. Sir Harry and Fredddie were soon in conflict.

On the stormy night of July 7, 1943 Sir Harry is murdered in his bed at Westbourne by being struck with a hammer. An effort is made to burn the body. De Marigny had driven by Westbourne well after midnight taking a pair of young women home.

The next morning, Christie, who had stayed overnight, discovers the body when he goes to wake Sir Harry. He handles the body saying it is still warm. He tries to give Sir Harry water believing he is alive.

Gray deftly describes the reaction of the Duke:

When the Duke of Windsor heard the news of Harry’s death, he made an instant decision that, in retrospect, was unwise - the latest in a lifetime of ill-advised decisions by the former king. Assuming that the case was byond the capacity of Nassau’s police resources (four officers and 140 constables), he looked elsewhere for help.

Instead of Scotland Yard or the FBI the Duke, having recently met Captain Edward Melchen of the Miami Police Department and found him “to be a very good fellow” he asks the Miami Chief to send Melchen to the Bahamas. Captain James Barker accompanies him.

That morning government officials, police and members of the public visited the crime scene leaving it hopelessly contaminated.

The Miami police swiftly concluded de Marigny was the killer and he is indicted. The Bahamian establishment is more than content with the outsider being charged. 

(My next post covers the trial.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Uncle Hugo's and Uncle Edgar's - A Bookstore Burned by Rioters

A photo I believe of the burning Uncle Hugo's
and Uncle Edgar's
A few weeks ago I watched on television and the internet the protests arising from the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It was a shocking wrongful death that was far away from me. Downtown Minneapolis is exactly 1,600 kilometers from Melfort. When riots erupted and buildings were burned and stores looted I was upset over the destruction and lawlessness yet it was still distant for me. Events became personal when I read that the building housing Uncle Edgar’s and Uncle Hugo’s bookstore had been burned. I had visited Uncle Edgar’s on every trip I made to Minneapolis in recent years. There are posts on the blog about Uncle Edgar’s in the page on mystery bookstores.

Rational or not I think it is human nature to feel more deeply events to which you feel a connection. The burning of Uncle Edgar’s made me angry. I doubt it was targeted. It is hard to see how a business selling science fiction and crime fiction could cause offence. I expect it was a mindless act of arson.

Burning a bookstore is an attack upon knowledge. The stores contained thousands and thousands of books. I know they were fiction but they contained stories that enlighten, inform, entertain, even challenge readers.

I consider our society diminished whenever a bookstore closes. When the loss is due to arson the destroyed books make the loss greater.

I condemn the violence that included the burning of Uncle Edgar’s and Uncle Hugo’s. Society does not move ahead because of such violence. The advances in human rights during my lifetime have come from the actions of legislators and court judgments.

I believe violent acts such as the arson in Minneapolis provoke reactions that make change harder. 

Owner Don Blyly says he was told there was video on the internet of a white guy in a mask setting the fire.

There are several clips on YouTube of arrests for arsonists in Minneapolis. I have yet to read that any of them are charged with burning the bookstore.

The American ATF of the federal government said it is investigating over 150 fires in the Twin Cities.

Don describes what happened in a message he sent out after the fire:

There was a call from the security company around 3:30 this morning that the motion detector was somebody in the building. I threw on clothes and headed over there. When I was 2 blocks away I received a call that the smoke detectors were showing smoke in the store. Every single building on both sides of Chicago was blazing and dozens of people dancing around. As I pulled into the dentist’s lot I could see that flames were leaping out of the front windows on the Uncles. It looked to me like they had broken every window on the front of the Uncles and then squirted accelerant through each broken window. It looked hopeless to me, but I went around to the back door to see if could get to a fire extinguisher. As soon as I opened the back door a wave of very thick black smoke poured out, so I quickly closed the door again.

More particulars are available on the website for the stores.

I have spent my life working to uphold the Rule of Law. As a defence counsel representing those charged with offences I seek to have the laws of our province and country justly applied. Rioters and arsonists challenge the Rule of Law. I hope the arsonist or arsonists are soon caught and tried and punished.

For Don the financial loss was huge. He has advised that he is eligible for insurance. He is not sure if he will rebuild. I hope he will find the will and resources to have a new Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s.

Rather than just be angry I have decided I want to help Don. His son, Sam, has started a GoFundMe page. A link is at the end of this post. To date almost $150,000 has been raised.

The conflicting emotions Don is experiencing are set out in links on the GoFundMe page.

I hope my modest donation and the contributions of 2,500 other readers will convince Don to open a new store. It would be a powerful example of determination and faith in the future. I believe books are important to the future of all peoples and nations.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Second Oldest Profession by Phillip Knightley Finished

In my previous post I started a review of The Second Oldest Profession by Phillip Knightley concerning espionage in the 20th Century. This post will contain thoughts on the period after the end of WW II.

Knightley spends a significant amount of time exploring the CIA of the Cold War. He minimizes its successful operations and maximizes its failures. He is more convincing when he deflates the image of the CIA as a pivotal player in world changes through the 1950’s and 1960’s.
He notes the CIA quickly became pre-occupied with the excitement of covert operations at th expense of gathering and assessing the information collected. For all the money invested in the CIA it failed to know the U.S.S.R. had succeeded in building atomic bombs until the first bomb exploded in Kazahkistan in 1949. It equally failed to detect that North Korea was about to invade South Korea in 1950.

Knightley’s downplaying of the importance of intelligence generally is reflected in his faint praise for Russian spy, Klaus Fuchs, who passed on to the Russians important information on the atomic bomb:

As to Fuchs’s value to the Russians, Holloway (an American professor of history) cannot reach a positive conclusion. He says Fuchs did provided potentially useful information. Some of this the Soviet scientists already knew, o else they would have discovered it: ‘But I thin, it is hard to dismiss it as worthless, especially as it gave the Soviet authorities some indication of what the Americans were up to. The estimates I have (from scientists who worked with Fuchs) suggest that he might have saved the Russians as much as a year or eighteen months in building the atomic bomb.’

Knightley criticizes the “sick think”, an obsession with moles that deeply hampered American and British Intelligence agencies in the 1960’s. At the same time he is consumed with focusing on evidence that supports his negative views of those agencies. It is hard to find a competent spy in the book.

Published in 1986 The Second Oldest Profession has not a hint of the impending demise of Communism in Europe. There is a reference at the end of the book on the curious fact of greater number of articles on "spies" in The Washington Post during the period of decreased tension in the Cold War from 1977 to 1985. Knightley extrapolates that bit of data to intelligence agencies finding means to publicize the need for their existence.

Yet there is no indication East Germany is failing as a state in the book and that the Wall will come down in 3 years. There is nothing to lead a reader to think that the U.S.S.R. will disintegrate in 5 years. There is no reason to think Knightley should have had a talent for foreseeing the future. At the same time he was an astute observer of nations and did not detect the coming collapse in Eastern Europe.

What the book did for me was to cause reflection on intelligence agencies 34 years after publication. Are they worth the vast sums expended? Knightley argues public information, diplomatic communications and direct contacts with the leadership of other nations are more effective in determining what other countries are doing and their intentions.

If there is an area Knightley downplays it is the challenge of getting governments to listen to analysis they do not want to hear. The reasons may be political, historical, ideological or personal.

He describes how England was surprised by the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands in the early 1980’s because the British government, despite warnings from its intelligence agencies, did not believe Argentina would take military action. They thought the Junta was bluffing.

He does not discuss the Argentine belief that Great Britain would not go to war over the Falklands. 

On each side there was a failure of interpretation of intelligence because they did not want to believe the other country would go to war.

His exploration of governments rejecting intelligence that does not accord with the beliefs of a government needs no further analysis on its relevancy today than waiting for tonight’s tweets from Washington.

As we go forward in a world in which the noise of massive amounts of daily information flowing electronically it is ever more challenging for intelligence agencies.

I fear our current leaders are no better than those of the 20th Century at deciding what to do with the intelligence they get from the multitude of agencies using up the alphabet with their acronyms. 

Knightley’s prose is brisk and his narratives well told. He is confident in his analysis. He is not reluctant, even eager to give his opinions. Not for him careful academic conclusions.

Ultimately, reading the book led me to believe there was a singular lack of “intelligence” in the intelligence agencies of the world and the political leaders considering the information gathered.

I usually do not read blurbs but the cover of my copy of the book contained a brilliant blurb by a great writer who had been an intelligence officer:

“If Reagan, Gorbachev, Thatcher and Mitterand only manage one book this year, the could a lot worse than pick up Phillip Knightley’s and discover what imbecilities are committed in the hallowed name of intelligence.” - John le CarrĂ©

(The blurb actually appears on the image of the book at the top of my first post on the book.)
Knightley, Phillip - (2020) - The Second Oldest Profession - Begun

Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Second Oldest Profession by Phillip Knightley Begun

(21. - 1046.) The Second Oldest Profession by Phillip Knightley (1986) - A lively history of espionage in the first 86 years of the 20th Century.

England created its first intelligence agency, the Secret Service Bureau, in 1909 in response to a public campaign asserting there were thousands of German spies in the country. A writer and adventurer, William Le Queux, found spies everywhere for he considered suspicious characters to be spies. The threat was non-existent. Germany’s rudimentary intelligence service was spying on Russia and France. As has often been the case the fear of spies has far exceeded the spying being done.

The priority given the Bureau is demonstrated by its meagre initial budget of 7,000 pounds and being assigned but a single office.

There have been striking individuals in the British Secret Service from the first “C”, Captain Mansfield Smith-Cumming:

…. a genuine eccentric, even by the standards of the Royal Navy. It is difficult to write seriously about Cumming, the first ‘C”, as the head of the service is called to this day. He wore a gold-rimmed monocle, wrote only in green ink, and, after he lost a leg in an accident, used to get around the corridors by putting his wooden one on a child’s scooter and propelling himself vigorously with the other. Visitors were intimidated by his habit of stabbing this wooden leg with his paper knife in order to drive home the point of an argument. His journal, a battered naval log book, contains entries such as, ‘To Clarkson’s today to buy a new disguise’

From the start there have been certain constant themes in the world of espionage:

1.) Spies have a tendency to create false intelligence to justify themselves;

2.) Spies, too often, will use funds assigned them for spying for their personal purposes. and,

3.) There will be competing overlapping intelligence agencies created. 

In England, by the end of WW I, in addition to the Secret Service Bureau, broken down into MI5 and MI6 (also known as the Secret Intelligence Service), the Royal Navy, the Army and War Office all had their own agencies. If this was not enough there was the Indian Secret Intelligence Service created to thwart German spy efforts in England. 

Germany was equally paranoid about non-existent English spies.

During the Great War little active spying was successful. The most significant information was volunteered and then rejected. The French had the Schlieffen plan for invasion but thought the information was planted. An inquiry into that decision at the end of the war could not proceed as the documents had been destroyed.

There were notable successes in breaking codes and stealing signals but excessive secrecy botched the handling of the information in England and it was not used effectively.

Neither England nor Germany did very well with its intelligence agencies between the world wars.

England’s agencies focused on Russia because of the anti-Bolshevik obsessions of English leadership. It was striking to read that the English secret services did not recruit from major universities during the 1930’s because of the leftist tendencies of the students.

After Hitler took over multiple intelligence agencies, Knightley lists eight, they actively competed for intelligence information and rarely shared with each other any that was obtained. 

In the lead up to World War II Knightley does not describe a single European or American intelligence agency that had any significant accomplishments. What they learned that was not public information came from individuals dissatisified with the leadership of their own nations.

In WW II Knightley recounts how England, Germany and the United States had little success in placing agents in enemy nations.

What was even worse was that when important true information reached leadership it was not accepted as it was too good to be accurate and must be disinformation or more often ignored if it did not accord with the pre-conceived thoughts of leaders. The English provided Edgar Hoover at the FBI with information on Japanese intentions to attack Pearl Harbor but he took no notice as he suspected its origins. More famously Stalin rejected Richard Sorge’s warnings from Japan that Germany was going to invade the U.S.S.R. in 1941. What was more surprising was how many other warnings from different sources of intelligence that Stalin equally ignored.

Sorge and his Japanese recruit, Ozaki Hotsumi, not only provided quality intelligence information they worked themselves up in the German embassy in Tokyo and the Japanese establishment to levels that not merely allowed them to obtain information but to influence policy in favour of Russia. In particular, they worked to have Japan respect its neutrality treaty with Russia and not attack the Soviet Union in 1941.

Knightley clearly believes intelligence agencies have rarely succeeded and often been incompetent. It is hard to evaluate the validity of his thesis. He records far more failures than successes. He is prone, as are many authors, to rely on statements made after the fact about state of mind. In an effort to discount the Allied efforts at deception where D-Day would take place he quotes the German officer in charge of military intelligence for the German Army in France that they “were surprised neither by the time of the invasion nor by the place or direction of the enemy advance”. If it were so, the German deployment and reactions should have been far different.

Knightley casts a skeptical eye on England’s success in breaking German codes at Bletchley Park. He downplays the significance of the information obtained through Ultra choosing to emphasize its limitations. 

Instead of emphasizing its important role in helping England win the Battle of the Atlantic he mentions the “disastrous” loss of shipping when Bletchley was unable, because of a change in German naval codes, to provide information for 10 months in 1942.

What I had not thought about before was that German Generals might not be honest in their messages. Rommel exaggerated his needs in North Africa to gain at least some of what his army required. The inaccuracte information caused the British Army to take actions which were unsuccessful as the German forces were stronger than expected.

In counterpoint Knightley discusses German efforts at code breaking. He explains the English code breakers were so intent on accessing German messsages they essentially ignored the security of English codes. Germany managed to gain significant access to British messages because of sloppiness and lax security in the processes of coding and transmission.

England was even more casual in checking the backgrounds of young men being considered for English intelligence agencies. It was essentially “bad form” to probe their lives. While this attitude had little effect before 1945 it was devastating during the Cold War because of the number of young English men who were recruited by the U.S.S.R. during the 1930’s.

(My next post discusses the post-WW II portion of the book.)

Saturday, June 13, 2020

In the Dark by Loreth Anne White

(25. - 1050.) In the Dark by Loreth Anne White - Big city homicide detective, RCMP Sgt. Mason Deniaud, is now in charge of the 3 officer detachment at Kluhane Bay in remote northern British Columbia. His transfer was prompted by unstated actions that could have meant dismissal from the force. I refuse to say he is in exile. The isolated areas of our vast nation need skilled professionals and offer wonderful lifestyles, especially for those who love outdoor life. I was disappointed with his attitude that after a couple of years “in these backwoods” he can return to urban Canada to do “serious crime work”. Deniaud is also irritated that the residents had sought to retain their well respected, even loved, previous Sergeant.

As the book opens he is interviewing the survivor of a disaster. Two weeks earlier 8 people, including their guide, met at the floatplane dock of the Thunderbird Lodge. The name and gender of the survivor is not revealed.

The story shifts to the discovery 5 days after the rendezvous of the discovery of a crashed floatplane. Deniaud, with the aid of Constable Birken “Hubb” Hubble goes to the site. They can see it is recent but there are no current reports of missing aircraft.

At the scene Deniaud, who has hid his fear of heights, is trying to see the plane when a branch breaks and he tumbles down to a ledge where the plane is precariously perched. Sliding on the ledge as he tries to move makes the plane unstable. Just as the plane slips into the river he is grabbed by Callie Sutton, head of the Kluhane Lake Search and Rescue (SAR). Uncomfortable with heights myself it was a heart pounding scene.

The story goes further back in October to the gathering of a group of executives and an aging private investigator to fly-in to a new exclusive lodge. The nine have been invited to experience the lodge and discuss potential business contracts for the services needed by the lodge such as catering (Monica accompanied by her husband Nathan), housekeeping (Deborah), promotion (Katie), transportation (Bart) and security (Jackie). An unusual aspect of the lodge is that it is to host wealthy individuals wanting to recuperate in isolation from cosmetic surgery (Steven). It did not add up as a plausible business but it was possible. Before leaving the investigator (Dan) falls sick and cannot fly with them. Stella Daguerre is the pilot of the Beaver floatplane transporting the group. 

On their arrival they find the Forest Shadow Wilderness Resort & Spa is not a luxurious resort. It is a huge empty house.

Each member of the nine thinks they recognize at least one other person. Cryptic thoughts of dark secrets occupy their minds.

Unease edges towards panic when they realize they were duped into coming and then learn the plane’s radio has been sabotaged and bad weather may keep them there for a week or more. Canada remains a nation where there are abundant locations for completely isolating a group.

They find a copy of Agatha Christie’s book, Ten Little Indians, on the coffee table. In the book is a paper with a poem about “Nine Little Liars” who die one by one until there is but one. A light shiver went through me.

With all of the group harbouring deep secrets each is on edge. Gradually the secrets are revealed as individuals start to confess their sins. A collection of guilty consciences is a dangerous mix.

In town in early November the SAR is assembled to search for the missing group. Bad weather grounds aircraft. They will have to use 4 wheel drive vehicles and boats. Weather and mountainous terrain make for a dangerous search.

Callie and Deniaud find an unexpected connection. Both are dealing with spousal tragedies involving accidents. I can relate to the lifetime consequences of an accident involving a spouse.

Back at the lodge the group is unraveling. Logic is lost amidst the suspicion and tension. Each cannot stop thinking about the poem. Are they going to die one by one? Is it some macabre re-enactment of Ten Little Indians?

I was drawn into the desperation of the group. They know panic is their enemy but their minds are losing touch with logic.

The pace accelerates. Can Deniaud and the SAR team rescue the group? Will there be only one survivor?

The tension is intense. I almost started racing through the pages to find out what happened.

The ending was uncompromising and unsettling.

It took some concentration in reading for, with each of the group being a narrator, there are a lot of voices. 

Callie is an appealing character. Strong in body and spirit she is a leader. She is coping with her sorrow. If I were lost in the forest I would want her looking for me.

It is a very good book. When I wrote my post on the hardest book to put down of the shortlist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel I placed In the Dark third. Had I read another 50 pages before making the decision it would have been first.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Last Trial by Scott Turow Closing

In my previous two posts I have been discussing The Last Trial by Scott Turow. (Links are at the end of this post.) It is a great book. This post deals with the end of the trial and more of my reflections from over four decades as a litigator.
After the prosecution rests the accused, Kiril, must decide if he will testify in the trial. It is his right. Defence counsel cannot keep him off the stand. As with many strong willed and accomplished accused Kiril wants the jury to see he is not the man portrayed by the prosecution. As I expected, Stern and Marta tell him directly and forcefully not to testify. Will he, a Nobel Prize winner, accustomed for decades to doing what he wants accept their advice? (I was reminded of an important Saskatchewan case in which Colin Thatcher, a former Provincial Cabinet Minister and the son of a former Premier, was on trial charged with murdering his wife. Against the advice of his trial lawyer he insisted on testifying and was convicted. In his book, Last Appeal, Thatcher said
Because of my legislative experience, I believed any jury would demand they hear me say, “I didn’t do it.” Choosing not to testify was a luxury I did not believe I had.
His hubris doomed him for he was savaged on cross-examination. I wrote a series of posts on the book which can be found by looking on my non-fiction page.)

Stern spends much of the day before he will give the closing argument thinking about his life and what he will say to the jury. (While I try to have the closing drafted before the trial it is inevitable that unexpected statements, the way in which certain evidence was given, the impression created by witnesses means my closing arguments have often changed during the trial and are not completed until sometime during the night before being delivered.)

Stern’s closing address is beautiful. It is eloquent. It is moving. He presents clearly the positions of the accused. He hammers home the dishonesty of a pivotal witness. (I once described a key witness for the Crown in a closing argument as follows:

She has practiced deceit for a long long time.  She has deceived people for years.  I submit she tried to deceive you.

I am not sure she knows how to tell the truth.

She has told so many stories trying to conceal or deny what happened.  Finally at this trial the truth has come out.

The number of witnesses does not prove a case but equally you are entitled to consider what evidence was called that supported what she said happened.

She was the only Crown witness on the events. She was contradicted by her husband, her children, her sisters-in-law, her friend, her employer and her sister. Who came forward to support and confirm her evidence? No one because there was no one.  Not even herself.  She contradicted herself throughout her evidence.

I ask you to find my client not guilty of all the charges.

Stern sets out the alternative to Kiril. Every flaw in the State’s case is exposed.

Yet beneath the eloquence are troubling facts for Kiril. (I was not sure what the jury would do with the case.)

There is a twist I had not seen coming that was completely plausible for a narcissist like Kiril.

Stern reminds me of Atticus Finch. Both are lawyers of great substance but not flamboyance. Their presence and manner inspire confidence in clients. (Facing a trial is a dark time for the accused. I advise clients we are doing our best for them and will put our record of success against any firm. Many need such reassurance.)

It is not a Hollywood ending. It is a Stern ending. He has loved and respected the law for almost six decades.  He has been a character in Turow’s books for over 35 years. I am sad to see his career end. I am glad there was a great last case for him. (When I reach the end as a lawyer, a time that is sometime in the future, I hope I can be as graceful as Stern.)
The Last Trial - Opening and Mid-Trial