Thursday, June 04, 2009
Reviewing: "Old City Hall" by Robert Rotenberg
“Mr. Singh opened his mouth to speak. But before he could say a word, Mr. Kevin leaned closer. ‘I killed her, Mr. Singh,’ he whispered, ‘I killed her.’” (Page 6)
For newspaper delivery person Mr. Singh, formerly the chief engineer for Indian Railways and a very precise man in word and deed, the idea that Mr. Brace killed his wife is a bit of a shock. So too it will be for all of Canada when word spreads. That shocking confession that December morning at the door of condo 12A located in the Market Place Tower in downtown Toronto will have repercussions all across Canada.
The confession, arrest and eventual first degree murder charge for the host of “The Dawn Treader” a nationally syndicated radio show is huge. Lost in the media hysteria and the investigation by the Police is one key fact that only his defense attorney knows. Her client, after uttering the statement above, totally clammed up. It isn’t surprising he won’t talk to the Police as he is a very smart man. But, he won’t talk to her either. It is hard to defend a client who will only communicate in writing and barely wants to do that.
For Crown Attorney Albert Fernandez, who is also very precise in his word and deed, the case should be a slam dunk. Brace confessed with his wife’s blood literally on his hands and the detail oriented Mr. Singh will make an excellent witness. The only thing left to do is document the investigation and prepare for the other side to offer a plea deal. Too bad his bosses will refuse any deal and want the case to go all the way to send a message to the voting public.
This debut novel by Robert Rotenberg, a criminal lawyer living in Toronto, is incredibly good. Along with the complex characters noted above there are many more as the actions and life of Mr. Kevin Brace touch many characters. The city and culture of Toronto, Canada also quickly becomes a real breathing character as the various fully formed personalities in this gripping novel introduce you to a Toronto very different from the city you see on television occasionally.
The result is a complex and powerfully good book that is difficult to give justice to in a review. With guidance from author Douglas Preston and many others, Robert Rotenberg has crafted a complex mystery with plenty of courtroom drama and twists that take readers on a grand adventure.
Old City Hall: A Novel
Sarah Crichton Books (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
Review copy provided by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2009