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A Calamity of Souls - two lawyers join forces in this stirring legal thriller set in the 1960s.

Set in Virginia in 1968, after the murders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, racial tension is a fact of life in segregated Freeman County. Jerome Washington, a young Black married father who served in Vietnam is arrested for the double murder of Leslie and Anne Randolph, his wealthy, white employers. Jack Lee, a white criminal attorney with no experience at murder trials, is convinced by the accused's family to represent Jerome. The local reaction to Jack's decision to defend a Black man of such a horrible crime puts him and his loved ones in danger. Realizing he may be in way over his head, he is approached by Desiree DuBose, a Black attorney from the Legal Defense Fund, to work together. The case takes on national attention with George Wallace's people trying to use the trial to bolster support for him. The prosecution rushes the case to trial where the lack of hard evidence doesn't seem to matter.

A Calamity of Souls is one of David Baldacci's most personal novels. The author, raised in Richmond, Virginia, notes that the book has many autobiographical elements and that he started writing the novel over a decade ago. It's quite a tour de force - perhaps his best. I'm a big fan of his entertaining, action-packed series work but this book is much different given the subject matter. Jack Lee is a great character. While a talented attorney, this case gives him the chance to truly stand for something. Desiree is a force of nature who is brilliant yet realizes she is fighting an uphill, exhausting battle every day of her life. This riveting story kept me glued and very angry.

Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this stirring book.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Legal Thriller | Historical Fiction.

Publication Date: Apr 16, 2024.

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