Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, host of the long-running Book Stew, a video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, authors, playwrights, and even a cat who survived a tornado and wrote a book about it.
The Other Side Of Prospect by Nicholas Dawidoff
This remarkable book is set in Newhallville, a dangerous section of New Haven, CT — economically stagnant and tired of losing its young men to gun violence, within five miles of the ivory tower-privilege of Yale.
The author follows Bobby, a teenager who is imprisoned for a murder he did not commit. The victim, Pete, came up in the Great Migration wave from South Carolina to a good paying job in a gun manufacturing plant that eventually closed, devastating the neighborhood.
Bobby is put in “the box” (an interrogation room which you’ll be sadly familiar with if you watch the TV show Homicide: Life of the Street) and although he had never even touched a gun, he is pressured to sign a confession, just like the Central Park Five, the young men who eventually told police falsely and under coercion that they had attacked and severely injured a jogger.
The author tells us what the community also knows: that the actual murderer was Bobby’s schoolmate, a contract killer named Major, who himself is killed within weeks of Pete’s death. Pete’s rise and success was almost an object lesson to Bobby’s overwhelmed mother and to Major’s destructive path after the death of his own mother.
Bobby’s lawyer, a bulldog who believed in giving his all to those denied justice, is examined, along with the culpability of the two detectives who ignored physical evidence to pin the crime on Bobby. We stay with Bobby as he becomes a heroic figure, for his perseverance and for his ability to regain purpose in prion and beyond.
The writer’s mission, to examine every side of this troubled and sadly all-too-common situation, is fulfilled by his own diligent detective work and by his outstanding writing.
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