cover image In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance

In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance

Wilbert Rideau, read by Dominic Hoffman, Random House Audio, unabridged, 13 CDs, 16 hrs., $40 ISBN 978-0-3077-3671-0

In 1961, 19-year-old Wilbert Rideau had a sudden inspiration about how to escape the confining poverty and racism of his life in the Louisiana bayou: he would rob a bank. The plan went horribly awry, with the ill-fated heist ending in tragedy: a bank teller lay dead. Almost all of Rideau’s adult life was subsequently spent in Angola, Louisiana’s dreaded state penitentiary, much of it on death row. Rideau was able to educate himself, eventually starting a prison newspaper and becoming a correspondent for NPR. The searing power of Rideau’s tale of tragedy, murder, and redemption is rendered all the more commanding because of the spare narration that Dominic Hoffman brings to the production. Hoffman never resorts to theatricality; there are no over-the-top Louisiana accents. Everything is filtered through Rideau’s own gripping perspective, a technique which communicates particularly well the narrowness and isolation of the author’s life on death row. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 22). (June)