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The Judgment [Mass Market Paperback]

D. W. Buffa
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 2002
When Judge Calvin Jeffries becomes the first judge to be murdered while serving in office, charismatic criminal defense attorney Joseph Antonelli finds himself smack in the middle of a riveting case.

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When Calvin Jeffries's body is found in the courthouse parking garage, eyes widen and horrified tongues wag. The fact that Jeffries was a thoroughly reprehensible human being doesn't detract from the notoriety of the first murder of a sitting Oregon judge. Defense attorney extraordinaire Joe Antonelli has a long history with Jeffries. Years ago the judge threw him into jail for contempt in a vain attempt to deter Antonelli from winning yet another case. But one of Antonelli's colleagues suffered even more. As the curious Antonelli pieces together fragments of the legendary judge's past, he discovers that Jeffries apparently drove Elliott Winston insane, had him committed, and married his wife. If only Elliott weren't still securely in the psychiatric hospital, what a sterling suspect he'd make!

But the police find the killer, a homeless man with the murder weapon and a willingness to confess, who promptly commits suicide after being taken into custody. The legal community breathes a sigh of relief--until a second judge is murdered in the same manner. When another homeless man is arrested, Antonelli's "bizarre coincidence" antennae start to quiver, and he offers his services to the defendant. So convinced is he of Danny's innocence that he plunges undercover into the vagrant's world, searching for evidence of a setup. But his discoveries seem to point directly to the impossible--for how could Elliott Winston, safely tucked behind bars, be the murderer?

At some point during The Judgment (the exact moment will vary according to individual tolerance), you may find yourself putting the book aside and picking up an Elmore Leonard for an emergency infusion of quality dialogue. Along with everyone with whom he comes in contact, Antonelli suffers from an apparent speech impediment that usually makes him sound like a particularly pompous 19th-century pundit.

When author D.W. Buffa lets his courtroom savvy take center stage, the novel moves along briskly (even though Antonelli takes some rather remarkable legal liberties, it's all in good fun). The subplot involving the return of Antonelli's high-school sweetheart, however, feels less integral than afterthought-ish. Though Buffa tries to tie everything together at the end with a heavily contrived twist that probably set O. Henry yawning in his grave, the novel's final note isn't one of ringing irony. It's more like a dull thud. --Kelly Flynn --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Inventing a perfectly odious victim and an obvious killer with the perfect alibi, Buffa cooks up a convoluted legal thriller littered with plot-twist land mines that explode when least expected. Toss in a poignant midlife romance and an innocent, put-upon defendant, and you have a novel with wide appeal. So few people grieve when loathsome circuit judge Calvin Jeffries is stabbed to death and gutted in the courthouse parking garage that it comes as a shock when the confessed killer is revealed to be a homeless man with no apparent ties to the victim. When a second sharp-tongued judge is killed the same way in the same spot, the cops call it a copycat killing and arrest a retarded homeless man on an anonymous tip, finding him with the murder weapon. Seasoned defense attorney Joseph Antonelli, himself a particularly maligned target of the venomous Jeffries, is persuaded to take the case and becomes convinced that both murders were planned by the same brilliant criminal one Antonelli is particularly familiar with, since the man once shot him. Antonelli's investigator, disbarred lawyer and recovering alcoholic Howard Flynn, sees his own dead son in the retarded defendant and throws himself wholeheartedly into the case. Unfortunately, Antonelli's suspect has been in the state home for the criminally insane for the past 12 years and could not possibly have committed the crimes. Meanwhile, bachelor Antonelli's high school sweetheart re-enters his life after a bout with manic depression and a rough divorce. Buffa (The Prosecution) once again produces a fast-spinning tale that jolts and veers enticingly off-track, but always stays comfortably in sight of the main objective. Well-developed characters and the rich Portland, Ore., milieu add depth to this excellent thriller. Agent, Wendy Sherman. Major ad/ promo; author tour; audio.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I have spent years defending some of the worst people who ever lived, but the most evil man I ever knew was never once accused of a crime. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Mystery with Character(s) May 7 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"The Judgement" is my first exposre to the world of Joseph Antonelli and D.W. Buffa and I must admit that I am impressed. The mystery centers around Joseph Antonelli, an Oregonian attorney who finds himself drawn into the murder of two circuit court judges that appear to be related. Add a possible connection to the past and you have yourself a fine novel with deeper character development than you see out of the typical mystery. Enjoy!
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3.0 out of 5 stars so so April 24 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
FLAW? Why didn't Joseph Antonelli stop them from committing Elliott Winston to an insane asylum when he was charged with Antonelli's attempted murder? Wasn't he called as a witness? Didn't he have any say so as to whether Winston would be charged or not? Couldn't he have refused to press charges? Or am I wrong?
Why didn't he do anything to help his good friend Winston? I mean Antonelli hired Winston cuz he thought he was the best young lawyer going and as the years go by comes to really like this kid. Yet stands by and does nothing when Winston needs him. He doesn't even visit him in the asylum for 12 yrs. Doesn't make any sense to me. What kind of a friend is that? Doesn't make the character of Antonelli very appealing.
I've read a couple of Buffas's Joseph Antonelli books and have yet to really feel/know any of the characters. For such a successful lawyer he doesn't seem to have his act together, do any serious investigating etc. . He just seems to stumble onto information.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a competently written, yet overblown work March 9 2004
By Larry
Format:Hardcover
Judge Calvin Jeffries, an egomaniac with a vindictive nature, is murdered. He is stabbed in the courthouse parking garage. The judge had enough enemies so the suspect list would be voluminous. However, an anonymous phone call alerts the authorities to arrest a homeless man and escaped mental patient who confesses to the crime then commits suicide. It appears to be an open and shut case until two months later when Judge Jeffries' successor is killed in the same location in a similar manner. Joseph Antonelli, defense attorney, agrees to defend the man accused of the crime, another mental patient who was so abused in his past that he is almost unable to communicate. As Joseph looks into the case, he finds that events in his own past plays a pivotal role in the case.
There are many legal thrillers published each year. In fact, it is considered a strong dynamic subgenre of the mystery field. I just wonder what made this particular volume stand out in the mind of the Edgar Committee for best novel. THE JUDGEMENT is a competently written, yet overblown work. Characterizations, especially that of the first person narrator, Joseph Antonelli, are skillfully done and is the major strength of the work. The plot, itself, is reasonably compelling yet so very long and, at times, aimless, that reader interest could tend to wane. Courtroom scenes appear realistic, yet, they are a bit too detailed such as the judge's instructions to the jury on courtroom proceedings. The solution, when it comes at last, is ambiguous enough to cause frustration. Perhaps I am being overly critical, however, I think if a book is nominated for the prestigious Edgar Award it should be held to a higher standard. I feel THE JUDGEMENT does not meet that standard. Nonetheless, it is a very entertaining book and a good pick for summer reading.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but not too original, psychologically off Oct. 12 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was a pleasant enough read, but I figured out "whodunnit" long before the second murder (less than 200 pages into it), mostly because the main plot is something of a transposition of a device used by others--e.g., Katzenbach's "Just Cause." Buffa's transposition is clever enough, but still, if you see it developing you know what's going on.
The more "philosophical" theme--kind of a meditation on mental illness vs. normalcy--would be more persuasive if (a) that debate had not moved past Buffa's apparent perspective thirty years ago and (b) his accounts of mental illness showed more knowledge of the subject. While the caricature of shrinkdom offered in Elliot's shrink is great, Elliot's dissembling and successful defrauding of the shrink for twelve years strains credulity (though such things have been done in some famous research for shorter periods). That's a minor sin, though--it's not entirely ridiculous, and it IS entertaining. The "love interest," though-- a woman who comies back into Antonelli's life after many years-- bears no relation to any psychiatric diagnosis or syndrome, least of all to "manic depression," as he calls it. (That he uses this long outdated term may be revealing, since it dates from the time when Buffa's meditation might have been timely.) The ways Buffa draws parallels between the suffering we call mental illness and various phenomena of everyday life are just naive and mistaken.
The book's structure is odd--takes a long time to get to its main plot, for instance. I didn't really mind that, but don't expect this to be a grab-you-by-the-throat piece of suspense.
I wouldn't say to avoid this book, but within its genre, it is definitely only B-team work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Legal Thriller June 19 2003
By SDRTX
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Attorney Joseph Antonelli's life is intertwined with the lives of murdered judges Clavin Jeffries and Quincy Griswold. After a seemingly innocent mentally deficient man is being railroad for the latter murder he decides to take up his defense and find out why and by whom the judges were murdered.
This is one of the best legal thrillers I read in quite a long time. The story is gripping with enough plot twists and turns that you never know what will happen next. We get a glimpse of Antonelli's early law years involving the judges. The early years' story is as interesting as the later present time story. It's almost like getting two good books in one. This story keeps the reader involved until the very last page.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars WARNING! Bad writing ahead...
I was in the mood for a light bit of suspense fiction... nothing brilliant, but a good airport read. Read more
Published on Oct. 27 2002 by GLBT
3.0 out of 5 stars WARNING
audible.com audiobooks may or may not work. may or may not take longer than reading the book. tech dept keeps banking hours and has one phone line.
Published on Sept. 21 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars PRETTY FAST READ
This was my first D.W. Buffa book and I was not disappointed really liked the battle in the start ( antonelli has with judge jeffries) About half way thru i had kind of figured who... Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2002 by T. A Kelley
4.0 out of 5 stars The Judgement
Buffa uses a lot of smoke and mirrors to make this novel work, but the result is a memorable read.
When two rather unloved judges get stabbed in an indoor parking lot, the... Read more
Published on Aug. 5 2002 by sleeping sheepsnake
3.0 out of 5 stars should we or should we not trust the reviewers
It's been a year since I have read the Judgment and I have just finished reading his next book, Legacy. Read more
Published on Aug. 2 2002 by J. Janko
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic legal thriller in classic Turow Style
D. W. Buffa returns with another superb legal thriller, The Judgment, that reaffirms his position as the 'Scott Turow of the new millennium. Read more
Published on June 30 2002 by Narayan Radhakrishnan
3.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing legal thriller.
As entertainment novels go, this is a good 'un. Joseph Antonelli is a defense attorney who smells a rat after two judges are killed in the same manner, and offers his services to... Read more
Published on March 11 2002 by Sue
5.0 out of 5 stars This Is As Good As Fiction Writing Ever Gets
I suppose that Buffa's novels are characterized as "Legal Thrillers" akin to Grisham, etc. But his writing is so superior that it transcends the genre. Read more
Published on March 6 2002 by Joseph L Burke
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