Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Review: THE COLOR OF JUSTICE

Title: The Color of Justice
Author: Ace Collins
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Pages: 350









Shades of The Color of Justice reminded me of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and John Grisham’s A Time to Kill, but that is because the basic premise is the same: A white man called upon to defend the innocence of a black man convicted of a crime against a white. 

The story begins in 1964 in the town of Justice, Mississippi, where a young couple out on a date find the brutally murdered, grotesquely twisted body of one of their friends, Becky Booth. The deeply segregated town moves swiftly and a young black boy, Calvin Ross, is arrested for her murder. The evidence against him is mostly circumstantial, but that is enough for the white-dominated town to believe him guilty and bay for his blood.

Cooper Lindsay, a dashing young lawyer, has moved his family back to Justice from Nashville. Busy working on establishing his practice in town, he is surprised when Hattie Ross, Calvin’s aunt, requests him to take up her cause and defend him.

A man with a conscience, Coop feels convicted by his late father’s sermons about the Good Samaritan and agrees to take up the case, hoping there will be no miscarriage of justice. Soon, the town turns against him, hating him for turning against his own kind. At first Coop believes that John David Maltose, the richest man in Justice, is also against Calvin. But he soon learns that Maltose, despite his wealth and reputation, is an upright man.

Investigating the case, Coop finds enough evidence to prove Calvin innocent but not enough to nail the actual killer. Soon after leaving the courtroom, both Coop and Calvin disappear and are never heard of again.

Fifty years later, Clark Cooper Lindsay, grandson of Coop and a lawyer himself, returns to Justice, hoping to find the truth behind his grandfather’s disappearance and give closure to his grandmother. This time he too is offered a case that will test his mettle to the fullest. This time the suspect is white and the victim black.


Maltose’s grandson has been accused of killing a black boy, his close friend. This time Coop has forensic evidence and other modern methods at his disposal. But will the challenge be too difficult for him? And will he solve the mystery of his grandfather’s disappearance while he is at it?


The book is fast paced. I could actually feel the excitement and the rush of wanting to know what would happen next and just how the investigation would pan out.

Another point that I liked is that the author does not paint everyone with the same brush. There are good people among the blacks and the whites, just as there are scoundrels among both.

In the tradition of the best of courtroom dramas, both the Coops have the best lines. They are principled and morally upright men. Unfortunately, there is a flip side to it. When the story jumps fifty years forward, and the leading man is the grandson, it becomes difficult for us, as readers, to distinguish between Coop Sr and Jr.

The story is engaging and pulls you in. Collins’ own convictions about racial issues come to the fore as Hattie says with deep conviction, “Hate just destroys everything it touches.”

The interactions between Hattie and the senior Coop were some of the finest in the book. As is the narrative, as Coop, both of them, slowly comes into his own, his deep conviction guiding him on in the investigation.

The book took much too long to get to the point at the beginning. There was no need to have wasted a whole chapter on the date that wasn’t between Wendy Adams and Frank Baird, and on the characters of the two youngsters, when the only purpose they were meant to serve took effect when Wendy stumbled on the body of her friend.

Also, on two occasions, the author did the summarizing through other characters, and that just didn’t sound convincing enough. First, the older Coop asks Estes, the sheriff, to tell him why he shouldn’t take up the case, and later, he asks his wife, to enumerate the reasons why he might be unwilling to take up Calvin’s case.

I also found the romance between Coop Sr and Judy a little annoying.

Other than these minor issues, I found The Color of Justice to be a beautiful and compelling novel.


(I read a Kindle version of this book on NetGalley.)





5 comments:

Shaivi said...

To kill a mockingbird is one of my favs. M sure this book too will be a nice read.

Cynthia Rodrigues Manchekar said...

Do read it, Shaivi, I am sure you'll like it. Of course, what we all love most about To Kill a Mockingbird is Scout's POV.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think you sold me on reading this book. My sister lives in Mississippi and the world is different there compared to mine in the northeast.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Also, glad to see you on the A to Z Challenge list.

Cynthia Rodrigues Manchekar said...

Susan, welcome to my blog. I am so glad that my review has piqued your interest in the book. It is well written and engaging.
I hope to see you around during the April A to Z challenge. I love the challenge for introducing me to new blogs and for helping me make new friends.

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