The Hanging Judge

Michael Ponsor. Open Road (, $14.99 trade paper (376p) ISBN 978-1-4804-4194-1
Despite the author’s credentials—Ponsor is a sitting federal judge who in 2000 presided over Massachusetts’s first capital case in more than 50 years—his attempt to draw on his professional experience for a legal thriller falls flat. Judge David Norcross, who has the requisite tragic personal backstory (a dead wife), is assigned the case of twice-convicted drug dealer Clarence Hudson, who gunned down another drug dealer and a nurse caught in the cross fire in a rundown Holyoke, Mass., neighborhood. A political decision to charge Hudson federally exposes him to the death penalty. That the case is problematic early on undercuts some of the tension from the trial scenes, while a gratuitous act of violence near the end undermines what hitherto has been a realistic portrayal of a judge’s life. Unconvincing interludes with a potential romantic partner don’t help (“An enormous moment was rolling toward him, and it was hoisting David’s innards like a swelling wave”). Agent: Robin Straus, Robin Straus Agency. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/14/2013
Release date: 12/01/2013
Genre: Fiction
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 492 pages - 978-1-4804-4193-4
Ebook - 492 pages - 978-1-4804-4190-3
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