Anatomy of a Murder by Robert TraverAnatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver
Narrator: Jason Culp
Published by Macmillan Audio on June 16, 2020 (first published December 1, 1958)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Classic, Legal Thriller
Length: 19 hrs 18 mins
Pages: 448
Format: Audiobook
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First published by St. Martin's in 1958, Robert Traver's Anatomy of a Murder immediately became the number-one bestseller in America, and was subsequently turned into the successful and now classic Otto Preminger film. It is not only the most popular courtroom drama in American fiction, but one of the most popular novels of our time. A gripping tale of deceit, murder, and a sensational trial, Anatomy of a Murder is unmatched in the authenticity of its settings, events, and characters.

We know the facts in Anatomy of a Murder from early in the book. The defendant’s wife, Laura, was raped by the local innkeeper and the defendant, army lieutenant Frederic Manion, took a gun, went to the bar, and shot and killed the rapist. He reported that he had done so and was taken into custody. It becomes Biegler’s duty to try to get him off. The defense? Irresistable impulse, a type of temporary insanity.

The story was broken into two parts: the investigation and the trial. The investigation is not a whodunnit , obviously, it was looking at all the players in the story, finding out all the ins and outs, who knew what when, what the people involved were like.

The trial was fascinating. The back and forth between the lawyers, the interjections from the judge, the witnesses’ statements, and jury reactions all kept me involved in the story. Our defense attorney and the narrator of the story, Paul Beigler, needs to win this case for a couple of reasons. First, he’s running for congress and winning would only help his chances. Second, he recently lost his position as prosecutor and needs to prop up his struggling practice. My favorite character, though, is Parnell, an older lawyer who gives up drinking to help Polly with the case.

The book is wordy. I enjoyed the descriptions and ramblings, but it could have been tighter. There is also a lot of courtroom minutiae, for good or bad. I enjoyed the whole thing, but I did listen to the audio. The narrator did a good job. He brought out the dry humor and the hometown feel of the book. Polly knows, for the most part, exactly what he’s doing, and we’re not surprised by how it all ends.

I do want to watch the movie now, maybe this weekend since it’s going to be cool and rainy anyway.

About Robert Traver

Robert Traver is the pseudonym of John Donaldson Voelker (June 29, 1903 – March 18, 1991) who served as the Prosecuting Attorney of Marquette County, Michigan and later as the 74th Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. He wrote many books reflecting his two passions, the law and flyfishing. He is best known as the author of the novel Anatomy of a Murder, published in 1958. The best-selling novel was turned into an Academy Award-nominated film of the same name—directed by Otto Preminger and starring James Stewart—released on July 1, 1959. Duke Ellington wrote the music for the movie. It is critically acclaimed as one of the best trial movies of all time.


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