A Past That Breathes

Noel A. Obiora. Rare Bird, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-644281-70-3
At the start of attorney Obiora’s debut, a slow-moving, unconvincing legal thriller, Goldie “Footsie” Silberberg, a white “songstress,” is found strangled in her Los Angeles apartment early in 1995. Suspicion soon focuses on African American songwriter Paul Jackson, Footsie’s ex-boyfriend, who was seen arguing with her the day she died. After Jackson’s arrest, his case is assigned to a junior prosecutor, deputy DA Amy Wilson, because, according to Amy’s supervisor, Kate Peck, Amy had “been exposed to publicity” all her life because her family owns a pharmaceutical company and other large businesses and would be able to handle the high-profile Jackson case better than anyone else. Suspending disbelief becomes even harder when Kate asserts that the prosecution won’t get overshadowed by the ongoing murder trial of O.J. Simpson. Unnecessary melodrama includes Amy’s courtroom adversary, Kenneth Brown, being a college classmate of hers for whom she once had feelings. The courtroom scenes don’t ring true, and run-on sentences are a minus (“Invariably though, the nights lose something, like the feeling that the table between you and the person across from you is a well that either falls into an abyss of uncertain excitement or a life-changing mistake and the joy of knowing he is willing to take the leap across just to get to you”). This exploration of how race impacts the criminal justice system disappoints. (June)
Reviewed on : 04/13/2021
Release date: 06/01/2021
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-64428-205-2
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