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Court of Lies    by Gerry Spence order for
Court of Lies
by Gerry Spence
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Gerry Spence's Court of Lies, lovely Lillian Adams has been arrested and is being tried for the murder of her wealthy husband, Horace Adams III in 1954 Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Elderly Judge John Murray is on the bench and taking the case, despite the fact that he and his feisty wife Betsy see Lilly almost as a daughter.

Ambitious, joyless prosecutor Haskins Sewell (with whom Murray has had run-ins before) needs a conviction (by any means he can employ, not limited to legal actions) as a way to advance his career. He's also out to get Murray, which is why he doesn't ask him to recuse himself from the case. Murray's old friend and once law partner Timothy Coker is the defense attorney. Murray never wanted to be a judge but was convinced by others to take it on to avoid Sewell getting the job.

The trial proceeds with Sewell employing every sleazy trick at his disposal, starting with poisoned leading questions. Lilly has a daughter, Tina, who is brilliant but borderline schizophrenic. Tina had delusions about her stepfather, and believed voices were telling her to kill him. Did she do so? After Murray throws Sewell into jail for contempt, the latter counters by spreading rumors of an affair between Lilly and the judge.

Next, Sewell asks the Wyoming Supreme Court to remove Murray. They deny that petition, but assign another judge to the case, after which Sewell has Murray charged - and jailed - for conspiring to obstruct justice. Matters steadily worsen, as readers root more and more strongly for the decent, caring judge. Then he does something quite surprising, because 'Justice must find ways to trump the law.'

This historical mystery, Court of Lies, is quite the indictment of the US legal system by the author, himself a renowned US trial attorney.

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