17 May 2010
PRIMAL FEAR by WILLIAM DIEHL.
A sainted bishop is murdered - and not just murdered, but mutilated and dismembered. An angelic young man, Aaron Stampler, is found moments later hiding in the bishop's confessional, covered in blood and clutching the murder weapon, a butcher's knife. His only words are that he's innocent.
Martin Vail is the most brilliant lawyer in Chicago. He's so good he's managed to infuriate every judge, prosecutor and politician in the state. Now they have the opportunity to exact their revenge - they force him to defend the accused murderer. But Aaron's innocence looks increasingly plausible to Vail: and what he eventually unleashes in the cause of justice has consequences that reach shockingly beyond the limits of a single crime.
..... Inner, front cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Summation to the jury): 'I believe in the law.'
MEMORABLE MOMENT: To Goodman, there was always something incomplete, yet eerily personal, about the scene of a homicide, a sense that somehow the victim would not really be dead until the place was cleaned and painted and restored to its old order and until all evidence f violence had been eradicated.
A book which started slowly and, for a while, seemed to be going nowhere but then soared, taking your breath away - I really cannot praise Primal Fear highly enough.
Following the murder of a bishop, this novel follows the legal process that will see Aaron Stampler either condemned to death or facing a lifetime in an asylum for the criminally insane. Being English, this was a process that was totally alien to me but held my fascination throughout.
A wonderful read, full of totally believable characters, a plot that twists and turns often with the turning of the page and an ending that was unexpected and explosive - it truly took my breath away.
Character-wise I really liked the fact that as much attention to detail was given to characters both major and minor. Prosecuting and defending lawyers (Jane Verables and Martin Vail) were particularly well written and 100% believable - so alike, ruthless, driven and with such a great desire to win, they were both strong individuals, making for good reading.
Also believable, and a particular favourite with me, was psychologist/psychiatrist Molly Arington who though strong and determined, is, at the same time,very feminine and somehow quite vulnerable creating a wonderfully complex character. Then there is Aaron Stampler himself - hugely readable as a character, he is by turn highly vulnerable and then very sinister.
A truly thrilling novel, I can see this being be made into a film.
Primal Fear was passed on from my mam who rated it ten out of ten.