cover image Miscarriage of Justice

Miscarriage of Justice

Kip Gayden, . . Hachette/Center Street, $22.99 (336pp) ISBN 978-1-59995-687-9

Nashville Circuit Court judge Gayden’s mixed debut tracks a tragic love story that begins at a Tennessee Christian summer camp in 1896. There, pastor’s daughter Anna Dennis, 16, and Walter Dotson, a third-year Vanderbilt medical student, fall hard for each other. By winter, he’s interning at her local hospital, and their courtship and early married life—including a stint in Vienna, where daughter Mabel is born—have all the trappings of a conventional romance. By 1908, the family numbers four and settles in Gallatin, Tenn., near Anna and Walter’s hometowns, but a miscarriage sets the stage for murder and scandal. Gayden’s writing in the romance sections is flat and unconvincing, but perks up in the last quarter, when the novel goes full-on procedural, delivering the murder trial and the related media coverage in close detail. The trial, based on real events, is intriguing, the verdict unexpected and period detail adds depth. (Feb.)