Pocket, Apr 2001, 24.95, 434 pp.
In Loyal, New Hampshire, teacher Jack St. Bride cared so much about his students, he tried to be there for them. However, good intentions and deeds do not go unpunished as Jack learns when he is arrested, tried, and convicted for sex with a minor. Jack insisted he was innocent and so did his victim, Catherine Marsh, whose diary hung Jack.
After eight months behind bars, Jack settles in Salem Falls where his Ph.D. in history makes him qualified to wash dishes at the local diner owned by Addie Peabody. Jack reports to Detective Saxton as required by state law of any sex offender. Over time, Jack and Addie begin to fall in love, but lightning strikes again. Four teens accuse Jack of raping Gilly Duncan, daughter of the town icon. With his past and the evidence against him very solid, Jack appears to be heading for his second pediophile conviction even if it seems more like a modern day witch-hunt.
SALEM FALLS is an exciting legal thriller that focuses on whether an accused person with a previous conviction for the same crime can receive a fair trial. The story line is fast-paced, as Jack seems like an ordinary person caught in maelstrom of his own making or just bad luck (read the book if you want to know). Addie is a great heroine, but three of the accusers sans Gilly fail to come across as genuine. Still, Jodi Picoult provides her audience with a well-written tale that leaves the audience thinking about the varying degrees of justice.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner