With Extreme Prejudice

Fredrick Barton, Author Villard Books $20 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-40813-0
This third novel by film critic Barton ( Courting Pandemonium ) is a fine, well-written thriller about New Orleans politics, obsessive grief and modern race relations. Set in 1988-89, the story is narrated by Michael Barnett, a movie reviewer for the New Orleans States-Tribune and a widower with a drinking problem, haunted by the memory of his lawyer wife, Joan, who was killed in a senseless accident a year earlier. Returning from a press junket in L.A., Barnett finds that his house has been robbed--but, oddly, that the only missing item is Joan's working file on a complicated lawsuit that had obsessed her until the day she died. When Barnett further discovers that a set of files is also missing from Joan's old law firm, he starts to investigate, hoping to answer questions about the case that had so haunted his wife. His search leads him to discoveries about his city, about his friends, about his late wife and even about himself. From the beginning, race is an issue, and by the end, the ``prejudice'' of the title has become the true subject of the book, reflected in Barnett's occasional movie reviews, which initially reflect his own problems ( Cocktail , Barfly ) but become more grandly thematic ( Mississippi Burning , Do the Right Thing ). Honestly written and well-conceived, this is a book that supplies pleasure on a number of levels. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1993
Release date: 10/01/1993
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