Raising Cain

Gallatin Warfield, Author
Gallatin Warfield, Author Warner Books $23.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-446-51850-5
Reviewed on: 07/29/1996
Release date: 08/01/1996
Mass Market Paperbound - 400 pages - 978-0-446-60513-7
Open Ebook - 978-0-446-56728-2
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Two apparently race-motivated murders dominate Warfield's third legal thriller (after Silent Son) to feature Maryland State's Attorney Gardner Lawson. A black police detective, Lawson's good friend Joseph (""Brownie"") Brown Jr., is accused of murdering a fire-and-brimstone white evangelist whom Brownie believes killed his father. For an easily guessed reason involving his activist brother, Paul, Brownie does everything he can to keep Lawson and his assistant/girlfriend, Jennifer Munday, from doing their jobs. When the two are cleverly forced out of the prosecutorial seat by returning Lawson nemesis Kent King, a smarmy defense attorney who was representing the evangelist before his death, they decide to switch sides and undertake Brownie's defense. To do so, they must contend with their own inexperience; King's ruthlessness and his personal alliance with the judge; a racist investigator who plays fast and loose with the evidence; a black preacher who stirs his community's wrath; and, for that requisite personal conflict, Jennifer's insistence on a greater ""commitment"" from Gardner. There's a utilitarian quality to the novel that renders it shallow and lacking in certitude. Warfield, a no-frills, sometimes lackluster, writer, is sure-footed in the courtroom but less so procedurally. As in his earlier novels, moreover, the characters lack nuance. Most disappointing, however, is that when the truth behind the deaths is revealed, it spins on a convenient coincidence; and in that spin, any meaningful consideration of the serious racial questions raised by novel is tossed aside. (Aug.)
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