Picks and Pans Review: Decision

UPDATED 10/03/1983 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 10/03/1983 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Allen Drury

It's hard to believe that an author who once won a Pulitzer Prize (Advise and Consent) and has produced a dozen other novels can write a book as poor as this. The prose is clumsy. Sample: "Because he was also a man of great tenacity and determination and because Janie obviously grew to love him considerably more than she did her increasingly cold and absent-minded mother, which did not help, he had been able to pretend to himself for far longer than most that something less than half a loaf could be made to seem better than none." The hero is an ambitious lawyer who realizes his boyhood ambition to become a Supreme Court justice. When a crazed radical bombs the dedication ceremonies of a power plant in South Carolina, the judge's daughter is severely brain damaged. The radical's case winds up in Supreme Court, and guess which justice, who refuses to disqualify himself, has to cast the deciding vote: death penalty or no? There is a lot of prattling about a vigilante group called Justice Now! and some muddled polemic about how law and order have broken down in the U.S. This is old-fashioned melodrama of the most contrived and unbelievable type. (Doubleday, $17.95)

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