3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Have you ever wondered if your life would have been different if you had opted to go with a different decision at some point in your life? In Betrayal of the Judge’s Wife: A Case That Escalated to Unanticipated Consequences by Richard Murphy, classified under other fiction, the main character does that very thing. You can arrive at positive or negative unexpected consequences depending on the choices that you make. That is the theme for this book.
Janet Spence Watkins Keane (Jan) is in her forties and is going to prison for 18 months. The lawyers agreed that if she pleaded guilty to an “Obstruction of Justice charge,” she could avoid prison and serve an 18-month probation sentence instead. Even though Jan pleaded guilty, the judge disagreed and ruled that she had to serve time in prison. Jan, her family, and the town of Barrie, Ohio were shocked. To show moral support and wish her good luck, Jan’s family, minus her second husband, and the town held a farewell party the evening before she was scheduled to begin her prison term. The next morning, she is ready for the Marshals and leaves with them. During the drive, she ponders the decisions she has made and wonders, if she should have pursued a different choice? Given the same circumstances, would she have, or could she have?
Even though I found the story to be methodical, something I don’t usually enjoy, putting the book down was difficult. Murphy told the story in the third-person and seems to have a gift for building character details without adding any drama or emotional depth. I could feel for the characters and empathize with them; however, I couldn’t develop any attachment to them. In telling the story, Murphy followed two timelines: the first one starting in October of 1989, and the second in the fall of 1960. He brought them together by October of 1990. This made the story fast-paced, but it was clear and easy to follow. Something Murphy did that I liked, because it added meaning and perspective for me, was his inclusion of historical facts. Late in December of 1963, Jan, who was then a senior in high school, realized she was pregnant. She told her parents and her boyfriend about her pregnancy, and they all raised the possibility of Jan having an abortion. This was before the Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade. If she decided to have an abortion, it would have been illegal at that time. Every time Murphy added these historical facts, I found it helpful. It showed me how the current events of the time not only influenced the decisions the characters made but how they have impacted the current events of today. For this very reason, I would like to read Betrayal of the Judge’s Wife again.
One slight problem I had with this book was that some of the responses seemed unrealistic. As I stated above, there was no drama. Every problem was solved with what appeared to be a very limited amount of emotion and in a low-key manner. This is many times the exact opposite of what we experience today. So I’m not sure, the characters’ responses might have been realistic for that time. The other problem I had with this book was all the punctuation errors in the Kindle edition. Almost all the errors consisted of inappropriate use of commas and quotation marks. I believe that another round of editing would have been helpful.
I rate Betrayal of the Judge’s Wife 3 out of 4 stars. I deducted one star because of the numerous misuses of commas and quotation marks. No warnings are necessary. The language is clean and there are no graphic descriptions of sex or violence. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in the powerful impact of decisions.
Betrayal of the Judge’s Wife
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon