Friday, July 16, 2010

A Nice Review for Case, And a Word on Maye

The first few reviews for The Skeptical Juror and The Trial of Byron Case were from early readers and Byron Case supporters. The single adverse early review was from a friend of the victim's family. The last five reviews have been from people we know nothing about. We are therefore pleased that the later reviews are all favorable.

We attempt to learn from the criticisms, whether they be explicit or implied. We want each book to be better than the previous. While that may be difficult to do over a series of 10 books, it should  be an achievable goal for the second in the series.

As it turns out, we have just submitted the second in the series to Amazon in Kindle format. It should show up within a week, though we may have to interate with the formatting. The print version should show up on Amazon in two or three weeks.  I've included the cover as an image in this post. Once that cover appears along the right hand sidebar, you will know that it's available for purchase.

Most Recent Reviewer Aeon Flux found the first part of Case to be slow. We agree. The biggest challenge we have had with the series is presenting the trial itself in an entertaining fashion while maintaining the integrity of the testimony. We got part way there in Case, and we think we are a few steps closer in Maye.

Aeon Flux also thought some of the humor was questionable and some of the asides were distracting. We agree. We have toned both down in Maye.

Aeon Flux thought Case picked up steam in the jury deliberation. We agree. That's why we start Maye in the jury room. That idea came from The Skeptical Spouse / Skeptical Editor, and it seemed strange at first. I now think it was a spectacular idea.

After completing the third part of Case, The Aftermath, Aeon Flux had a hard time getting over the anger at how it all turned out. We agree. We caution, however, that the last part of Maye, The Alternate Scenario, is no more likely to be soothing.

Aeon Flux was frustrated that the ending lacked a resolution. We agree. Welcome to real life. Hopefully there will be a happy ending for both Byron Case and Cory Maye. Maye is certainly well represented, and the Mississippi Supreme Court has agreed to hear his case. With respect to Case, we have a longer row to hoe. I don't write of his legal situation because it's best at this point if I do not.

Aeon Flux mentioned The Skeptical Juror's prediliction for hot dogs and diet Mt. Dew in Case. Flux will be happy to know that Funyuns and Mr. Pibb each make a guest appearance in Maye.

Now without further ado, I offer the lastest Amazon review for The Skeptical Juror and The Trial of Byron Case.
4.0 out of 5 stars Rabid Reader, July 11, 2010
By AEON FLUX (here and there) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Skeptical Juror and The Trial of Byron Case (Paperback)
I don't read true-crime books, as a general rule. Before I read this one the closest I ever came was Truman Capote's accomplished "In Cold Blood." And let me be clear, "The Skeptical Juror and the Trial of Byron Case" was nowhere close to that highfalutin level of literature. Then again, it didn't try to be. What it was was an accessible but exacting introduction to state criminal court and to jury duty. It was also an unflinching look at one particular murder trial. It was not what I expected.

Here's where I'd insert a spoiler alert, except other reviewers before me have already ruined the surprise of the verdict: Byron Case was found guilty of 1st degree murder in a 2002 judgment. The verdict wasn't what made this book interesting, though. Allen broke from the rules of genre to come up with something that wasn't a whodunit, a profile, or even a dramatized narrative of the crime. Instead, he concerned himself with a "Dragnet"-like interest in "just the facts." He deconstructed the evidence, walked the reader through his research, and came away with some truly unsettling conclusions. It's amazing that nobody yet has spilled the beans about those conclusions in a review (and I'm not about to), but wow.

I liked this book. I liked it so much I read it in two days. Then again, "liked" is the wrong word. In spite of Allen's obvious effort to break up the tedium of some longer testimonies, using asides of sometimes questionable humor and distracting (but fascinating) local history, the first of the book's three "acts" was slow going. Once I made it through Act One, however, it all paid off. I was compelled, pulled along by a gnawing curiosity about where the evidence led. By Act Three, I felt like a private eye. Then bits and pieces came together and I felt sick to my stomach.

The only thing the ending left to be desired was a resolution, but that's a problem with the reality of Allen's source material, not with the author himself. After I put the book down, I had a hard time getting over my anger (yes, anger!) at how it all turned out. Not even Capote managed that strong a reaction, so there's obviously something to be said for Allen's hot-dog-eating, Mt.-Dew-swigging plain-spokenness. I will definitely look out for the release of the two other "Skeptical Juror" titles mentioned as "forthcoming."