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May 25, 1958 - Image 9

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1958-05-25
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knatomy of a Murder'
Voelker Presents an Accurate Study
Of Murder and Courtroom Procedure

Robert Traver (John D. Voel-
ker), 439 pp. New York: St.
Martin's Press. $4.50.
ROBERT TRAVER, in his best-
selling novel Anatomy of a
Murder, presents a "whodunit"
with a unique approach. It is a
murder mystery in which the mur-

derer is known within the first few
chapters and the facts of the case
are unfolded by the defendant's
Anatomy of a Murder is a care-
ful and complete study of a mur-
der and the ensuing trial. The en-
tire case is seen through the eyes
of defense attorney Paul Biegler.
The reader learns Biegler's inner-
most thoughts and thus gains in-

sight into the case. Nothing per-
tinent to the murder case has been
omitted by Traver. It is a thorough
and anatomical study of the work
of the defense attorney in a
criminal case.
EXPERIENCE entitles Traver to'
write competently from the
viewpoint of the defense attorney,
for he is John D. Voelker, cur-



pring and Summer
kels Arcade Dial NO 2-9116

rently associate Justice of the
Michigan Supreme Court, who
has disguised himself with a pen
Voelker's legal experience ex-
tends back to 1928 when he was
graduated from the University Law
School. After a few years of prac-
tice in Chicago, Voelker moved
back to his home town in the Up-
per Peninsula, where Anatomy of
a Murder has its setting.
He served as prosecuting attor-
ney of Marquette County for ten
years, compiling an outstanding
record of convictions. It was a few
years after Voelker lost his pro-
secutor's job to young Edmund
Thomas that the particular ex-
perience occurred which makes
Voelker unusually qualified to
write "Anatomy of a Murder."
JOHN VOELKER,. in the fall of
1952, brilliantly defended an
Army lieutenant stationed at Big
Bay, a tiny village on the shore of
Lake Superior. The lieutenant had
killed a tavern-keeper who al-
ledgedly had raped the officer's
These events tend to-make the
novel almost autobiolgraphical, for
these are the same incidents,
nearly the same case, dealt with in
Anatomy of a Murder.
Paul Biegler has just been de-
feated in the race for county pro-
secuting attrney by young Mitch
An unexpected phone call from
a Mrs. Laura Manion brings him
the most interesting and involved
case of his career. Mrs. Manion's
husband, Lt. Fredric Manion, is
in jail, charged with murder.
Although realizing chances for
collecting fees from a jailed Army
lieutenant who has no savings are
about nil, Biegler takes the case.
The trial begins with no doubt
in anyone's mind as to the iden-
tity of the killer. The crucial step
for the defense is to establish the
mental condition of Lt. Manion
at the time of the murder. For
after careful "law-looking" Bieg-
ler's lawyer-assistant, Parnell Mc-
Carthy, finds Michigan statutes
showing temporary insanity as
grounds for finding a person not
guilty of murder.

MERE is no doubt that Voel-
ker's background and experi.
ence with a similar case has a
great deal to do with the book's
greatest virtues-realism and sus-
pense. Because Paul Siegler tells
the story, we know the defense at-
torney's problems in establishing
the defense of his client.. His ques-
tioning of the truth of the wit-
nesses' statements and his pene-
trating search for any scrap of
evidence or legal material helpful
to the case shows the mature and
realistic tone of the book.
With realism and suspense,
Voelker poses a novelist's question
on the pursuit 6f truth. The wit-
nesses' testimony was. all offered
as truthful evidence. The only way
validity could be established was
from the circumstances, and the
credibility of witnesses.
This is similar to the method
truth is determined in most in-
stances, for often reliance Is placed
on what others offer as being the
There always exists the problem
of properly discerning and finally
arriving at the apparent truth.
Biegler, the judge and the jury
all reached conclusions from the
apparent truth.
VOELKER has done an out-
standing job in handling the
events of his story and in creat-
ing tone and atmosphere, but he
does fall down in writing style.
He alternated from old cliches
to pretentious words to legal jar-
gon with rather distracting re-
The good points of Anatomy of
a Murder certainly over-balance
the bad, for John Voelker has
managed to produce an accurate
and suspenseful document on the
role of the defense attorney, trial
procedure and the legal profes-
Anatomy of a Murder provides
interesting and enlightening read-
ing for anyone casually interested
in the workings.of the courts, the
law and the individual personality.
It is a rare novel which can give
real insight into the fascinating
profession of law.


Sunday, May 25, 1958

Vol. IV, No. 8







240 Nick

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Ho, Hum ..

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Look! - getting ready to go home for the summer has this
pretty, smart co-ed actually murmuring "H9, HUM." That's because
she's pretty smart
She simply called GREENE'S and we delivered a big Handi-
Hamper to her. Here she is, dropping in her ski clothes, -winter skirts
and sweaters, caps, mittens, earmuffs, flannel longies-all those things
a pretty co-ed wears to look prettier. We'll "Microclean" those things
very gently, then store them all summer for just $4.95, plus cleaning,
in our on-the-premises vault. Not a packing worry - not a storage
worry - home-going is so easy.. ho, hum ...

Missiles and U.S. Defense P


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