Scribner, Jun 2001, 27.00, 448 pp.
The town is filled with evil and prejudice that walks in sunlight, not content to hide in shadows. It is a place where a half-breed Arapahoe child watches the murder of his father as deputies use the man as a punching bag. The residents of Twin Buttes, Wyoming taught Charlie Radtail quite a lesson that he will never forget.
The person most responsible for the final lesson Charlie received as a child wants to develop Spirit Mountain, a place the Arapahoe hold scared. When that individual Ronnie Colter dies, the Sheriff's Department believes that Charlie killed him. When the case against Charlie goes to trial, manufactured evidence and perjuring witnesses become prominent. Thus, twelve people must set aside their own biases and struggle through conflicting information to determine whether Charlie murdered Ronnie out of vengeance or some higher cause, or is he just an innocent dupe.
Gerry Spence makes his publishing debut a memorable one with a dynamite novel that chillingly exposes how prejudices hamper and even destroys justice. The story line is powerful and the key cast members including the jurors feel authentically human. Reminiscent of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Ms. Spence stirs the emotions of her audience as she hits on several complex social issues in a roller coaster of a plot worth riding.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner