The Execution of Justice

Friedrich Durrenmatt, Author Random House (NY) $17.95 (216p) ISBN 978-0-394-57802-6
When Zurich multimillionaire and local politician Isaak Kohler shoots a professor to death in broad daylight for no apparent reason, he cheerfully accepts his 20-year prison sentence. Yet, despite the fact that there were witnesses aplenty, he enlists Spat, a down-and-out lawyer, to investigate the crime, ordering him to pretend that someone else, now at large, committed it. Through luck and happenstance, the greenhorn attorney pulls off the impossible: an acquittal. In the process, Spat falls in love with Kohler's daughter Helene, whom he suspects is an accomplice. He also meets a femme fatale whose auto racer boyfriend beats her, a dwarfish heiress surrounded by wee, bald bodyguards and sundry small-time crooks. Did Kohler shoot the professor as an abstract, fiendish mental game, or was Swiss pistol expert Benno the real culprit, as the newspapers rashly proclaim? Narrated by Spat, whose obsession with the case nearly drives him over the edge, this quirky tale by Swiss playwright-novelist Durrenmatt ( The Assignment ) is a dark, wicked satire on the legal system and a disturbing, if ambivalent, allegory on guilt, justice, violence and morality. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 07/06/1989
Release date: 07/01/1989
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