Innocence or Guilt: You choose

My Sister’s Grave

And

Her Final Breath

Bks 1 and 2

By

Robert Dugoni

A NetGalley Review

Is she being stalked by the killer? Or just a common or garden nutter?

Just what is this about knots? Not the Japanese type of fetish knots but hangman’s nooses and knots.

Ah, a female cop with intelligence and attitude – not so sure I like her ability with guns though – she even likes to shoot and misses it when she can’t get to the range. However, I can blame her parents for their upbringing of her and her sister, as it was a father’s hobby passed onto the kids as he took them with him whenever he went to competitions. And encouraged them. And even got them to dress up as gun-slingers of the Wild West. And her shooting name was a pun on her actual surname – ‘Crossdraw’.

I did check out Washington State, where Tracy grew up, to see what the NRA was doing, and found to my personal disgust, that Washington State University had teamed up with the 4H organisation to bring a gun club to young people. Not really the behaviour, to me, of an ethical university.

It was interesting to find out from the novels that Levi Strauss supported the anti-gun lobbyist but not Wranglers or Lee.

I explored no further.

This review is going to talk about both novels as they lead one into the other. Book one starts the story line of the sister Sarah, and book 2 completes it, with an unexpected twist at the end. Which made a really good ending and one I had not expected.

Starting with book 1 I would like to make some comments about the Innocence Project.

It has always seemed to me that the Innocence Project is direly needed in the US for 2 reasons: 1. The Death Penalty; and 2. The inability of some police officers to look past the colour of a person’s skin to determine innocence or guilt.

So in book 1 we find that someone is ‘fitted up’. Is this surprising in ‘Backwoods’ USA? They needed a ‘solve’ for the community to put the incident to rest. So am I surprised? No.

I checked into the Innocence Project and here are some statistics:

As of 2014/5:

  • 333 post-conviction DNA exonerations
  • Majority of exonerations are people from low socio-economic status
  • 14 years was the average length of incarceration before exoneration;
  • 140 real offenders were found as a result of investigations (40% of cases);
  • 18 people were on death row;
  • 99% were males;
  • 70% were of ethnic minority groups;
  • 22% of cases were closed because the evidence was missing;
  • 1989-2004 overall 1579 people exonerated;
  • 1973-2004 4% of those executed were probably innocent;
  • 75% of wrongful convictions were through eye witness accounts;
  • 50% included unreliable/improper forensics or forensic testimony;
  • 25% of those innocent were coerced or threatened into giving false statements;
  • 28% pled guilty to additional/or other crimes they did not commit to avoid a long sentence;

Other reasons for exoneration include:

  • Government misconduct;
  • Inadequate legal counsel;
  • Improper use of informants.

There is still a death penalty in 31 states and in 2014 there were 35 executions with 3002 on death row.

The states which execute most people are: Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, and Arizona, with Texas holding the current record.

So all of the above is the background to the story played in book 1. And a  very strong story-line it is considering that here we are talking about a sister trying to exonerate her own sister’s presumed killer.

Book 2 takes this is as its starting point and the case that Tracy abandoned to go home to deal with the above. It proves to be a vital element in bringing to justice a serial killer but it has already been closed with a presumed killer incarcerated. Again we see Tracy considering exonerating a killer as she ties together the current spate of killings with this closed case.

Tracy Crosswhite is the type of cop I like. She is determined, intelligent and no nonsense.

Robert Dugoni portrays her well and the stories are full of detail and well paced with nice twists and turns to keep you interested.

I look forward to this series being continued.

4 stars for both books.

 

 

 

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