Review: A Covenant With Death

A Covenant With Death A Covenant With Death by Stephen Becker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a classic literary offering with all the delicious quandaries and insights. I love to read books written by men about men... they are so much more authentic than books about men written by women or vice versa. This has the same flavor that "A Prayer for Owen Meany" had.

The plot revolves around a small town beauty's murder, but goes so much deeper with moral dilemmas, small town gossip and politics with small town, bigger than life characters, and a generous sprinkling of young man ponderings from an old man's mind. Those shoulda-beens and why-nots play a big role in how the author draws the reader into this swirl of characters.

This is also classic because the characters are truly and delicately developed. The reader knows as muc about the Ben Lewis as his mother, his mentor, his neighbors, and the characters suspected of the murder. In fact, the murderer is no real surprise at the end.

But that is not the objective of this book. The objective is how a small town copes with something so shocking as one of their own being murdered and her husband being accused. It also delves deeply into race relations, prohibition, and intimate relationships all from a young man's perspective.

The only reason I gave it four stars instead of five stars is because it was very wordy in parts, and at time too introspective that did not move the story along. But then, that was the kind of story people liked to read in 1964.

A riveting tale of love and death in a small New Mexico town that ranks alongside Anatomy of a Murder and To Kill A Mockingbird as one of the twentieth century’s most captivating courtroom dramas

On a sultry day in the spring of 1923, Louise Talbot spends the last afternoon of her life lounging in the shade of a sycamore tree in her front yard. Beautiful and vivacious, Louise is the talk of Soledad City—every man lusts after her; every woman wants to know her secrets. She is found strangled to death that evening, and when the investigation uncovers her affair with another man, the citizens of the frontier town draw the obvious conclusion: Bryan Talbot murdered his wife in a fit of jealousy and rage.

Presiding over the trial is twenty-nine-year-old Ben Lewis. Appointed to the bench as a tribute to the memory of his late father, he fears he is too inexperienced to sentence another man to death. All the evidence points to Talbot, however, and it is a magistrate’s sworn duty to see that justice is served. But when a last-second twist casts the question of the defendant’s guilt or innocence in a shocking new light, Judge Lewis must decide whether to uphold the law—or let a murderer go free.

A thrilling suspense story and a fascinating inquiry into human nature and the true meaning of justice, A Covenant with Death was a New York Times bestseller and the basis for a feature film starring George Maharis and Gene Hackman.

Received from Netgalley for my honest review.

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