Sunday, December 15, 2013

Review: The Hanging Judge by Michael Ponsor

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Based on the experience of the author, a federal judge who in 2000 presided over the first capital case in Massachusetts in more than fifty years, this extraordinary debut thriller offers an unprecedented inside view of a federal death penalty trail. 
When a drive-by shooting in Holyoke, Massachusetts, claims the lives of a Puerto Rican drug drealer and a nurse at a neighborhood clinic, the police arrest a black drug dealer. With no death penalty in Massachusetts, the US attorney shifts the double homicide out of state jurisdiction into federal court so that he can pursue the death penalty. 
The  Honorable David S. Norcross, who has been on the federal bench only two years, now presides over the first death penalty case in the state in fifty years. He must contend not only with an ambitious femal prosecutor and a brilliant veteran defense attorney, but with a citizenry outraged at the senseless killing of a white hockey mom- not to mention the pressures of the media, anti-death penalty protesters, vengeful gang members, and the million other things that can go wrong in a capital trail. 
Michael A. Ponsor takes readers into the courtroom and beyond, presenting with great sensitivity the points of view of the defendant and his wife; the victims' families; law enforcement officers; witnesses; and the judge who, while still coming to terms with the death of his wife, begins a relationship with a woman he is not sure he can trust.

I received this book via NetGalley to give an honest review.
I love a good crime novel and this one had me really on the edge of my toes with reading it. And the fact that it was written by a judge now that is pretty cool. You follow Judge Norcross and his first ever death penalty case which is not an easy case. Now I am given this book 4.5 star rating instead of a normal 5 like I was hoping for. There were some questions I had and answers I would have liked to seen answered but I will get to that in a bit. 
It was nice to actually get to be inside a court room and see how the judge is picked a bit and get a feel of it all. And you get a bit of inside to the so called crooked cops. Now this book seemed to focus a bit on Norcross's love life and the case it is like you went back and forth between the two and it wasn't confusing but it did make you kind of wonder exactly what did one have to really do with the other. When Ginger who is a by-stander gets killed by a stray bullet who is meant for a rival gang member name Peach well the people want justice for her. Especially the US Attorney. 

What I wish there was more of was more investigation  into Moon by his lawyer. It just didn't seem as though is lawyer wanted to investigate anything. But his lawyer did seem good to know what was best for him. It was really nice how this author knows how the legal system works and just doesn't "guess". When Ginger's son speaks it just broke my heart as you could really feel how he was feeling and it was just out of hate it was from his heart. 
If you are looking for a really good crime novel that is well-written, the story will draw you in. Then pick up your copy, I know I will be looking forward to more from this author. 


Michael PonsorMichael Ponsor graduated from Harvard, received a Rhodes Scholarship, and studied for two years at Pembroke College, Oxford. After taking his law degree from Yale and clerking in federal court in Boston, he began his legal career, specializing in criminal defense. He moved to Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1978, where he practiced as a trial attorney in his own firm until his appointment in 1984 as a US magistrate judge in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed him a life-tenured US district judge. From 2000 to 2001, he presided over a five-month death penalty trial, the first in Massachusetts in over fifty years. Judge Ponsor continues to serve as a senior US district judge in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Western Division, with responsibility for federal criminal and civil cases in the four counties of western Massachusetts. The Hanging Judge is his first novel.















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