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04 May 2014

Mark Gimenez: The Case against William

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The case against American Football
Most of this book is about the the popular cult of American Football and the immense impact on male youths who excel in the sport. As an Aussie I am not familiar with American Football, just as most Americans are not familiar with Cricket, so a lot of this book went over my head and hindered my understanding and enjoyment of this book.

At an early age it is clear that William Tucker has the athletic skills to excel on the football field. His father, Frank, then a successful defence lawyer, is persuaded by an eminent football coach to move his son from a top academic private school to a tough integrated public school to allow him to fully develop his footballing skills and have a chance of a college football scholarship and then at earning megabucks if he is selected to play for one of the top AFL teams.

While this sounds wonderful, William changes from a normal teenager into an over-muscled selfish prima donna who expects everything in the world, especially from the myriad of female football groupies who will do anything to please him. William is on the cusp of being selected for a star AFL career when, without warning, he is arrested for the rape and murder of a cheerleader two years earlier. The evidence is damning with a DNA match to blood on the body.

Frank's life meanwhile has gone downhill badly, impacted by his marriage breakdown and a case where his client had lied big time. He has become an alcoholic and has lost his licence to practice law. William is totally overconfident until he realises that he is only one step away from a death sentence, has no money and no one to help him. Will he let his father help him to avoid the death penalty?

What follows is a struggle for Frank to recover enough to help save his son's life, if his son will allow him to do so. The case is also an opportunity for a politically ambitious District Attorney to pay back a grudge he has had for years because Frank has usurped many of his prosecutions. Frank is supported by a fascinating, almost Camel Club, team of alcoholic friends, an ex-cop, and ex-football coach, and and ex-conman, supported by a court appointed female public defender who used to be a stripper.

Frank's battle to save William is an intense emotional challenge of a basically very good but sensitive man who has gone off the rails to save his son who has also gone off the rails.

Mark Gimenez is one of my favourite authors of legal thrillers, especially as he nearly always takes a shot at some aspects of life in the US - this time the cult of American football and elected judicial and legal officials. While I enjoyed some of the book it was not one of his best and my lack of knowledge of the American football system prevented me from really appreciating this book.

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