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California Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 9 September 2021 Home | CALBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Parenting Shelf General Fiction Shelf
Historical Fiction Shelf Romantic Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Biography Shelf Judicial Studies Shelf


Reviewer's Choice

Open House!
Joey Sheehan
Canterbury Books
9781647043285, $19.99 Hardcover/$16.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Open-House-Insiders-Residential-Sellers/dp/164704328X

Open House!: An Insider's Tour of the Secret World of Residential Real Estate for Agents, Sellers, and Buyers is a guide to residential real estate designed to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. Therefore, it is set in an affluent community which mirrors the real estate trends of the country, yet keeps the brokerage company nameless while incorporating decades of real estate stories and experiences into its examination.

Most real estate guides narrow their audience to either sellers or buyers, adopting perspectives that consider one group's interests. By tailoring this insider's guide to agents, sellers, and buyers alike, Sheehan outlines and contrasts the different perspectives of all three, which will provide readers with important information. Another note is the chatty tone which makes accessible ideas and experiences that are too commonly couched in technical language or dispassionate description: "My husband believes home sellers are nuts. He also believes home buyers are nuts. As for the real estate agents who make careers out of servicing these folks, he pretty much regards us as nutty too ("damn crazy" were his exact words)."

This level of engagement succeeds in attracting an audience which may not ordinary be drawn to the world of real estate transactions, personalizing experiences and making them not just accessible, but entertaining. As chapters cover topics often glossed over or omitted in other residential real estate discussions, from the vulnerability of a female real estate agent to predators who dangle expensive listings and sexual favors to racists and safety challenges agents face during open houses, readers gain much information and advice on how to stay safe and savvy during the home selling and buying process. Many of these lessons will apply not just to realtors, but homeowners who would attempt to sell their own homes and women who need to be more cognizant of the risks in handling different situations and people in the course of pursuing real estate professions.

Buyers, too, receive details about scams and misrepresentations that will educate them about the need to be proactive and careful: "Despite the 2005 seller's reassuring letter, the eventual buyers for the property at that time had entertained reservations about the man's claim concerning the integrity of his house's front wall. To assuage their concern, the seller immediately volunteered to bring in an expert to examine it for them. Why the buyers would agree to this self-interested arrangement rather than investigate the wall with an expert of their own (or their Realtor's) choosing is unclear. The resultant second "engineering" report that was only a letter appears to have been a deliberate attempt at misrepresentation. Someone, not a structural engineer but writing on the letterhead of a big-time structural engineering firm, states that he did a "visual assessment of the cracks" and found nothing amiss."

With engaging case histories from real life and a desire to reveal all aspects of residential real estate transactions from all sides, Joey Sheehan succeeds in translating her experiences into invaluable information that should be in the hands of buyers, sellers, and agents alike. Any definitive collection that includes real estate guides should include Open House!: An Insider's Tour of the Secret World of Residential Real Estate for Agents, Sellers, and Buyers as a matter of course. Its tone and details will appeal far beyond the usual buyer/seller focus typical in such books.


The Parenting Shelf

Planning Kids? Why?
Bruce Sherman
Independently Published
9781796037227, $15.99 paper/$3.99 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Planning-Kids-Why-Bruce-Sherman/dp/1796037222

After you have kids, your life will never be the same. This is a well-known, accepted adage of wisdom that receives central attention in Bruce Sherman's book, which ideally should be given to any young couple starting out in life before they make the decision to have children. The purpose of Sherman's book is to encourage the discussion of the many ways children will change one's life. Sherman is 90 years old, retired, the father of two sons, and provides a succinct, important review of all the forces that influence the decision to have children, considering the pros, cons, and fallacies of some of this logic. His objective is to examine these reasons more closely so that readers can formulate their own game plans based not on ideals or family habits, but with fuller knowledge of what it means to dedicate a lifetime of care to a child. From common reasons for wanting children and who is happier - parents or those who chose to remain childless - to how children influence the perception of and journey towards happiness, and problems in parent-child relationships on many different levels, Sherman provides succinct observations into not just traditional family structures, but how new and existing parents can consider and handle major stress forces on their childrearing focus.

Unlike traditional parenting guides, Sherman's book embraces all kinds of transition points and changes, from divorce and separation to conflicts that stem from adoption and the financial impact of raising a child. He outlines common choices and misconceptions, obstacles to success and happiness, and how young men and women considering adding children to the equation can best prepare for this effort on many different levels. Is having kids really worth it? Take the Planning Kids? Why? quizzes, consider its blend of statistical information and psychological and social insights, and then decide. Sherman provides all the tools and insights needed to make this decision, creating a thought-provoking analysis that outlines all the pros, cons, and issues involved in taking the leap into being a parent. Is he happy with his decision to be a father?

You'll have to get the book to find out!

Why Some Animals Eat Their Young
Dallas Louis
Sandra Jonas Publishing
www.sandrajonaspublishing.com
9781954861930, $14.95 Paper/$5.99 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Why-Some-Animals-Their-Young/dp/1954861931

Book cover art typically is not a big standout nor mentioned in a review for a given book, but it's worth mentioning here that the colorful and immediately compelling cover of Why Some Animals Eat Their Young: A Survivor's Guide to Motherhood is a huge draw, from the start. Struggling parents will both recognize and laugh at the cartoon portrait of three tots standing amid chaos with a disapproving mother looming over them, which invites readers to absorb the stories and solutions presented in the book.

Anecdotes, humor, and real-world scenarios are also reflected in chapter headings which inject all three elements into their titles. Examples include "You Shoved What Up Your Nose?", "Alien Adventures and Other UFOs," and "Dazed and Diapered." Each chapter recounts an experience of managing children with an attention to humor, realistic insights, and capturing the daily challenges of decision-making and being a savvy mother: "I'm convinced that children are really super-cute carrier monkeys. Their job is to pick up and attract the latest and greatest germ, bug, or virus and bring it home to share with the rest of the family. We teach our children to share, but we fail miserably to distinguish between the germs and the good stuff. Having three kids in twenty-six months was pretty close to having twins with a spare, so they passed everything back and forth to one another."

Mothers will readily recognize themselves in many of these stories, but the inclusion of coping mechanisms and insights into the process provide added value, especially for new mothers. All Dallas wanted to do was marry her love and build a family. She did. How she survived her greatest desire is narrated in a style akin to Erma Bombeck: earthy, matter-of-fact, and simply hilarious, as well as thought-provoking. Mothers seeking a bit of humor about their childrearing experiences will find it in droves in Why Some Animals Eat Their Young. It's especially important because, without humor, surviving this stage of family life becomes questionable.


The General Fiction Shelf

Legend of the New World: Origins
Vern Watkins
DartFrog Books
www.DartFrogBooks.com
9781953910745, $14.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Legend-New-World-Vern-Watkins/dp/1953910742

Legend of the New World: Origins is a military dystopian thriller that revolves around an American girl who was tapped and trained by a terrorist organization for a mission that will change and challenge the nation: an attack on the audience watching the Super Bowl LXXXI. While this story is slated for teens, the adult nature of the investigation, terrorist activity, and sci-fi scenario of a technologically enhanced young woman charged with changing the world belays the youth of its characters, imparting a full flavor of adult concerns that will easily reach older readers, as well.

A satisfying complexity winds into the story as siblings Mega and Aniya assume the identities of Brandon and Tiffany Ames and move to LA on a mission that leads them to probe the new America around them. Mature teen to adult readers will find the combination of thriller, dystopian setting, terrorist inspection, children's lives and involvements, and social and political conundrums to be satisfyingly complex and revealing, powered by a military and political revelation of self-inspection and social change.

More so than most thrillers or sci-fi settings, Legend of the New World: Origins creates a believable, compelling world that is satisfyingly full-faceted, built on the foundations of modern issues, concerns, and angst. In an all-too-realistic future, the young characters that drive the special and personal interests of this milieu come alive. All ages should consider Legend of the New World: Origins a refreshingly original read, packed with action tempered by bigger-picture revelations and thought-provoking insights.


The Historical Fiction Shelf

Traitors for the Sake of Humanity
Helena P. Schrader
Cross Seas Press
https://crossseaspress.com
B095SZG8BM, $9.99 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Traitors-Sake-Humanity-German-Resistance-ebook/dp/B095SZG8BM

Fans of World War II historical fiction will find Traitors for the Sake of Humanity: A Novel of the German Resistance to Hitler an excellent, sweeping historical portrait that begins in 1938 in a town in southern Germany and ends in 1944 Berlin. Helena P. Schrader has a PhD in history from the University of Hamburg, and her astute attention to historical detail is reflected both by her expertise and the fact that this novel took over three decades to craft, blending primary and secondary research conducted personally in East and West Germany. Her interviews of over a hundred survivors of Nazi Germany lend authenticity and add real events to a haunting story.

A somewhat daunting list of characters introduces the novel, giving reader the notion that this will be a weighty - perhaps even demanding - read, for a fictional work. While this is certainly true on some levels, Schrader tempers her fact-based story with atmosphere and inspections that reflect her personal familiarity with and involvement in German life, evident from the first paragraph of description: "Altdorf was a harmonious jumble of half-timbered and plaster fašades in medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. The occasional modern structure crouched on the outskirts near the tracks. As the local train from Frankfurt pulled into the little station, the single passenger in the first-class compartment - an officer of the German Army - set his cap firmly on his head. He adjusted the peak to sit just above his rimless glasses. He then pulled on his leather gloves and picked up his suitcase by the handle."

As the story unfolds, the real impact and presence of the Nazi regime in daily German life becomes recognizable, understandable, and engrossing.

It should be noted that if Traitors for the Sake of Humanity sounds familiar, that's because it is a re-release of a book published over a decade ago under a different title. Its appearance now, in a day and age where the lessons, approaches, and presence of Nazis in social, political, and military circles holds more impact and meaning than ever in the struggle to preserve democratic ideals, is invaluable. The presence and methods of resistance, how Hitler's power and appeal were opposed in various strata of society, and how the country and its people won small victories at great personal costs is compellingly documented through the eyes, minds, and hearts of characters that come to life under Schrader's hand.

Anyone who would understand, on more than a factual level, the emotions and motivations of resisters and believers alike will find this powerful history captured in a story that is, yes, complex...but also thoroughly engrossing and thought-provoking. Traitors for the Sake of Humanity serves as a strong reminder of the price of loyalty and allegiance. It deserves to reach new audiences with a reprint edition that represents new lessons from old history, for modern times.


The Romantic Fiction Shelf

Aloha With Love
Lindy Miller with Terence Brody
Rosewind Romance
c/o Vesuvian Books
https://vesuvianmedia.com
9781645480372, $13.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook

https://vesuvianmedia.com/aloha-with-love

As Aloha With Love opens, Jenna Burke is experiencing the aftermath of two life-changing events: her longtime boyfriend has dumped her, and her beloved Aunt May has passed away in Hawaii. Her journey to the island reveals that she and her sister have inherited an old Victorian beach home. They are tasked with renovating it before they can sell it.

That process brings with it a contractor Jenna can barely stand: Ben Fletcher, whom she is forced to use, due to her aunt's final wishes. Ben drives Jenna crazy. He also, surprisingly, offers the opportunity to lead Jenna in a new direction in her life - which her savvy aunt must have known. Lindy Miller and Terence Brody provide a compelling story that is as much about personal growth as it is about relationship building.

Jenna and Ben and sister Sarah, too, are charged with rebuilding more than an old house. Their dreams merge and change as a result of their connections to Aunt May's legacy, the currents of their hearts and individual paths in life, and the spirit of Hawaiian aloha which permeates their experiences with newfound connections.

Romance readers with a special affection for Hawaii will especially enjoy the Hawaiian culture and philosophy, an undercurrent that runs through the perhaps-predictable attraction between people who at first seem complete opposites. The differences between the aloha spirit of Hawaii and the mainland are brought to life in the course of a story where all the characters are changed by each other, Hawaii, and Aunt May's legacy.

This clean romance is nicely portrayed, not too pat, and filled with philosophical and cultural connections and reflections that add an extra dimension of attraction to the overall story. Aloha With Love is as much about chasing dreams and finding a place to call home as it is about matters of the heart.

Romance readers interested in uplifting stories of change and discovery will find it a heartfelt, free-spirited story of dreams recognized and family connections both broken and revitalized. It's a spirited story of all kinds of connections that adds depth and attraction beyond the romance's evolution, and will delight romance audiences looking for uplifting stories of personal and interpersonal transformation.


The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Merfolk
Jeremy Bates
Ghillinnein Books
B08RWP5GV5, $4.99

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08RWP5GV5

Merfolk: World's Scariest Legends 4 is a study in horror thriller experiences that will delight those who like nautical intrigue and tension. It joins other "World's Scariest" collections by Bates, yet stands on its own as a powerful saga of literary terror and intrigue. Jeremy Bates's ability to produce a stand-alone read that adds to a series yet requires no prior familiarity with setting, characters, or premise will delight horror fans, who will be immediately immersed in the prologue that tells of Karlo Winkler, a seasoned game fisherman who catches something he can barely handle.

The mystery and the final revelation seem to conclude, but set the stage for more as a series of characters make discoveries that lead them to become open to the existence of different forms of life under the waters. As oceanographer and shark scientist Dr. Elsa Montero, Dr. Martin (Marty) Murdock, and others navigate Sri Lanka's mysteries and legends, the possibility of something unique and threatening comes to life. Bates builds believable characters whose special interests, professions, and fears dovetail with the rising possibility of a previously-unknown underwater milieu that portends a dark and dangerous force.

Readers who enjoy graphic descriptions of horror will relish these descriptions and the ongoing threat of being eaten alive by denizens that live in a very different world. As Jacqueline DeSilva, a reporter for the Daily Mirror, risks her life for the most vivid story of her career, tension heats up and confrontations increase that embrace both horror and adventure as relationships emerge and are challenged and changed by merfolk legends. Bates has a particularly delightful way of building suspense, releasing it, then returning for more. Readers will find the tension ongoing and delightful, often unpredictable, and replete with harrowing scenes of survival struggles.

Fans of horror literature, sea-based intrigue, and changing choices will find Merfolk builds its attractions from the first page, challenging its characters and readers to experience many different levels of horror as the story evolves. The evolution and interconnected tension, mystery, horror, and interpersonal relationships form a tango that keeps readers reeling and reading until the story's final moments provide a satisfying, unexpected conclusion.

Victim Eleven
Tom Chorneau
DartFrog Books
www.DartFrogBooks.com
9781953910615, $16.99 print/$2.99 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Victim-Eleven-Tom-Chorneau/dp/1953910610

Victim Eleven opens with an old cop who receives a strange text from his prosecutor son-in-law about the capture of the Ransacker perp (also known as California's notorious Golden State Killer of the 1970s). Based on real events surrounding this serial killer, but offering a different take on his motives and modus operandi, Victim Eleven takes real-world news and turns it into a gripping 'what-if' story that reviews how the Golden State Killer changed the lives of investigators, victims, and the state of California as a whole.

Skip was a second year GS special agent at the time, in the early stages of his police career. As the Ransacker's break-ins and games attract attention and then turn more deadly, Skip and his fellow officers are charged with keeping a deadly secret...one that investigative reporter James Cole is too close to uncovering. His move from being a reporter to consulting with law firms threatens to reveal more than the Golden State Killer's identity as events unfold.

Tom Chorneau paints an engrossing portrait of a cat-and-mouse game between perps, investigators, and police. He crafts a story of possibilities that blurs the line between good and bad guys and the motives of all involved, creating a scenario that is filled with satisfying twists and turns as moral and ethical questions come to light. As Cole's girlfriend Brooke's love is tested and she's drawn into a murder investigation that hits too close to home, readers will enjoy a fast-paced story that entwines the lives of a host of realistic, absorbing characters who all sport their own special interests in and connections to the Golden State Killer case.

Murder mystery readers, particularly those intrigued by postulations based on real history, will find Victim Eleven thoroughly engrossing, unpredictable, and hard to put down, powered by strong characters who each contribute a piece to the puzzle.


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Mark of the Bear Clan
David Allen Schlaefer
DartFrog Plus
www.DartFrogBooks.com
9781953910363, $16.99 book/$4.99 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Mark-Bear-David-Allen-Schlaefer/dp/195391036X

Imagine the passion and pathos of a Jean Auel prehistory story, but with the addition of wizards and fantasy, for a taste of what awaits readers in The Mark of the Bear Clan. The first installment in the Far Northern Land Saga, this tale introduces readers to an epic fantasy that draws inspiration from Finnish legend like no other. As the story opens, Iron Age Finnish child Ulla has been mauled by a bear. She's saved by the wizard Vainamoinen, but the bear has left a scar he cannot fix...a scar that fulfills an ancient prophecy about her importance as a hero to her world. In a very different stratum of society, young Prince Egan suddenly finds himself crowned king when his father is killed by a creature from Hell. Both find themselves on parallel journeys as they grow into their powers and strengths too soon, are called upon to battle sorceress Lohi, and begin to uncover their vocations in life and who they really are against the backdrop of adversity and threat.

David Allen Schlaefer excels at creating a vivid, action-packed fantasy that rests on the shoulders of two equally strong young protagonists who become caught in snares of prophecy and their own uncertain status in their worlds. He takes the time to explore the special circumstances surrounding wizard Vainamoinen, who acknowledges that all his powers can't save people who are unwilling to see the truth. Finnish mythology and culture add a historical backdrop to this fantasy milieu as Schlaefer depicts the evolution of different peoples and their understanding of the forces of good and evil around them.

Ulla bears the Clan Mark, the mark of hope. But will this translate to a peaceful life for her - or a peace that only her people could experience? Readers who enjoy sweeping epic fantasies rooted in Nordic culture and myths will appreciate this complex, involving story. A host of characters and different perspectives make it a recommendation not for the casual adventure-oriented reader alone; but for those who enjoy detailed epics, diverse and strong characters, and a setting that is as full-bodied as Lord of the Rings and other expansive works.

The Mark of the Bear Clan is like Jean Auel's world on steroids, with a heavy dose of fantasy driving its peoples, their purposes, and the special interests and forces that work against them both from within and outside, in social and political circles. Although the main characters are young, this story is recommended for mature teen to adult readers, who will find it captivating and satisfyingly well-detailed.

Keepers of Peace
Jonathan Michael Erickson
Gold Dragon Books
9781948746113, $4.99 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Keepers-Peace-Song-Ancients-Book-ebook/dp/B095JJJ2KY

Keepers of Peace adds the third book to the Song of the Ancients series and follows the efforts of three women to thwart the influence the Relics of Andromeda have had upon Earth. The relics' arrival changed everything. Can history be turned back to regain and maintain the peaceful world that once was?

The prelude, "Stories of the Distant Past," recounts human history before this pivot point from the perspective of Deanna McCaden, who provides her students (and newcomers to the series) with a recap of how a well-meaning military scientific discovery caused the collapse of human civilization. But, is the story Deanna tells the truth? Or is it designed to instill fear in listeners so that old mistakes won't be repeated?

The impact of this introductory legend resonates throughout the story as Deanna encourages a form of honesty that re-examines truth, lies, and the collective reality that binds groups together with a common perception of the world. As student Anka Aelgon begins to suspect that fellow student, shaman and friend Tamreh is hiding something, a group of students take Chief Elder Deanna's story to new levels of inspection. Their efforts will change not just history, but their perspective of civilization and their role in influencing its future.

While newcomers might believe that this third book in the series requires familiarity with its predecessors, one of the delights in Keepers of Peace is that a thorough recap of history, legends, and present-day events is provided that lends to an immediate understanding. Newcomers as well as prior series readers will find the latest saga accessible and equally captivating as the trio of women try to mitigate the impact and devastation of the Relics, changing how they are used and controlled.

Jonathan Michael Erickson's story of social and political inspection and who can handle high technology for the greater good is a vivid sci-fi adventure that creates a different future and the challenge of crafting a new tale for future generations to learn from. The characterization and central conflict are very nicely done and provide readers with a solid read fueled not just by loftier goals, but interpersonal relationships, the legacy being created for future generations, and the realities which dictate how the Relics are viewed and handled.

Keepers of Peace is especially recommended for readers interested in stories about high technology, social responsibility, and how legends are transmitted over the passage of time. Its vivid chronicle will leave readers thinking about reality and perspective long after the story wraps up - but with a postlude that paves the way for more.

Supplant
Shane M Toman
DartFrog Plus
www.dartfrogbooks.com
9781953910585, $15.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook

https://www.amazon.com/Supplant-Shane-M-Toman/dp/1953910580

Chicago in 2071 is a city under siege, both politically and socially, as a serial killer supplemented by the insertion of animal genes into human DNA goes on a rampage with superpowers at his fingertips. Against this backdrop (and despite the fact that the scientific supplantation program has gone horribly awry and been banned), a new push for genetic research is made by corporations interested in more profits and better results.

Zen, a legal executive for a private security firm, and Mik, an Army veteran turned butcher's apprentice, are drawn into this milieu by their own special interests and assignments. They become part of both the problem and the solution as they uncover hidden truths that lead them directly into dangerous arenas on different levels.

Shane M Toman's satisfying blend of science and mystery will delight sci-fi fans who enjoy intriguing detective investigations that operate with a heavy dose of science. From the lasting legacies and impact of greed and bad decisions to the side effects of genetic manipulations that change and threaten society, Toman's story is riveting, and presents different angles and interests as it evolves.

Sci-fi readers will find the blend of scientific processes and moral and ethical conundrums create an excellent, thought-provoking story, while those interested more in the evolving mystery will find the suspense well done and hard to predict. Keeping two very different audiences on their toes and guessing is no light feat, but Toman accomplishes this and more, adding a down-home atmosphere that contrasts everyday life and character experiences with this bigger picture. Supplant is a compelling story that evolves on different levels as Zen faces a difficult life-changing (or enhancing) decision to even the odds in a dire situation. Will her choice result in her salvation, or her destruction?

In a world where genetics can be artificially modified, what does it really mean to be human? These questions and more swirl through a story that is fresh, original, and hard to put down as sacrifices and decisions are made by doctors, politicians, businesses, and everyday people caught up in life-changing scenarios.


The Biography Shelf

Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz
Darwin Porter & Danforth Prince
Blood Moon Productions Ltd.
www.bloodmoonproductions.com
9781936003716, $39.95, PB, 576pp

https://www.amazon.com/Lucille-Ball-Desi-Arnaz-Ricardo/dp/1936003716

Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz: They Weren't Lucy & Ricky Ricardo is the first volume in a two-part biography, and covers the marriage and stormy relationship between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz between 1911-1960. The many facts about both individually, as well as together, will engross and entertain as well as educate. Lucille, for example, was a chorus girl in the 1930s before she became involved with Arnaz. She grew from a teen who earned a reputation as a bad girl in Jamestown, New York after she become involved with the local hoodlum to working in show business and as a nude model. Her move to Hollywood expanded her activities as a hooker and show girl. These changed when she met Desi, a Cuban whose family lost most of their wealth in the Cuban Revolution before they fled to Miami for a new life.

Desi and Lucy's Hollywood encounter led to a marriage fraught with stormy conflicts and separations...a relationship that lasted two decades, surviving infidelity on both sides. Readers who enjoy Hollywood gossip and stories of stars, starlets, and passion will find all these forces and more in Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz. Black and white images pack the story, embellishing it with photos, vintage ads and movie bills, and on- and off-screen shots that capture the personalities and events of Lucy and Desi.

More than just a biography filled with Hollywood stories, however, Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz captures the era which produced Lucy and Desi, from backroom deals and critical successes and failures to the evolution of films, shows, and the two stars as they navigated a changing Hollywood milieu and their relationship. The passion, pathos, and personal and career encounters and choices each faced, both individually and as a famous couple, is captured in vivid descriptions of filming and acting that bring the Hollywood of the 1930s to modern times to life in all of its transformations.

Perhaps the greatest strength of this story lies in its contrast between the dreams and realities of a Hollywood couple whose professional lives impacted their personal ambitions and marriage. Filled with insights and moment-by-moment inspections, Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz is a definitive biography highly recommended for anyone interested not just in these two, but in Hollywood filming, famous couples, and the changing milieu of movies and television over the decades. Biography, film, and media collections alike will find this exploration educational, historically accurate, dramatically intriguing, and revealing.


The Judicial Studies Shelf

Defending a Serial Killer: The Right to Counsel
Jim Potts, JD
Vesuvian Books
https://vesuvianmedia.com
9781645480358, $15.95 Paper/$7.99 ebook

https://vesuvianmedia.com/defending-a-serial-killer-the-right-to-counsel

Many books have been written about serial killers - usually biographical sketches, or accounts by their surviving victims. Defending a Serial Killer: The Right to Counsel takes a very different approach to the subject in considering the moral and ethical challenges lawyers face in fulfilling their duties to defend a client who may ultimately be released (if their efforts are successful) to kill again.

In 1982, author Jim Potts was a brilliant young law student recruited to craft a death penalty appeal for a convicted serial killer. His research efforts uncovered a loophole that could overturn his client's conviction and lead him out of prison to possibly murder again. As his legal duty to his client and the Constitution he's pledged allegiance to clashes with his own values and a pregnant wife who maintains she'll leave him if he follows through on his duties, Potts becomes caught in a dilemma that tests his abilities on many different levels. How can he stay true to his profession while assuring he keeps his family together and doesn't unleash evil back into the world, based on a technicality of law?

Few other legal discussions hold the ability to capture a compelling immediacy in the daily processes of law, as well as the dilemmas these processes bring with them. Readers gain specific details about these approaches, which teach them about how law is interpreted and enforced as the story follows Potts and his associates in and outside of court. How lawyers absorb the long-term results of their arguments and efforts is also nicely captured as the tale unfolds.

Especially revealing (and often poignant) are his reflections about the ultimate outcome of his legal arguments and its impact on his life and career alike: "My involvement with Mattson's appeal appeared to be never ending. I had thought I could let it go, but I was having trouble. What was it about this man? Why did my life have to be touched by him? I began to wonder whether or not he was truly sorry for the crimes he had committed against those young girls. Probably not. I wondered how he took the news of the Supreme Court's ruling. He was probably up at San Quentin celebrating with his fellow inmates, each one asking how he pulled it off in the desperate hope he had some magical answer on how they could also escape death."

Readers who want to learn more about legal processes, lawyers' moral and ethical considerations, and how killers are treated in the courts and the minds and hearts of those who defend or oppose them will find much food for thought in Defending a Serial Killer. It's highly recommended reading; especially for students of law, who will find it contains many vivid considerations of the underlying human impact of defending known killers in court and supporting the right to counsel that is an intrinsic cornerstone of the American justice system.


James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
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http://www.midwestbookreview.com

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phone: 1-707-795-4629
e-mail: donovan@sonic.net


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