A novice attorney struggles with one of the most challenging and melodramatic cases of his young career.
For this serpentine, true-crime dramatic depiction, novelist and essayist Seay (Dead in a Ditch,2011, etc.) effectively collaborated with debut author Lloyd, an Oklahoma litigator who, in distinctive detail, describes the yearlong, first-degree murder case that would shake up his early days in the courtroom. Escorting Seay to the Oklahoma locations crucial to the events and drawing from a memory bolstered by a trove of newspaper articles and court transcripts, Lloyd engrossingly pieces together a story of crime and blame.
The case began in 1982, a time when Lloyd, a cub lawyer having only tried (and lost) one jury trial, became propelled by grief after losing his newborn son. He channeled great effort into examining a homicide involving Noi Kanchana Mitchell, a wife charged with the ruthless murder of her husband, Bobby, in a case that, in Lloyd’s words, would take “all of the energy and physical reserve I could muster” as well as endangering his marriage and jeopardizing his financial stability.
Thankfully, this enticing setup delivers on all of its promises as readers are immediately thrust into the story of Bobby Mitchell and his Thai wife, Noi, and the nagging feeling Lloyd experienced that she was innocent of his murder, even though the odds were stacked against her.
The primary evidence, which pointed to her direct involvement in her husband’s strangling, shooting, and corpse disposal, included the statements of an accomplice and Noi’s audiotaped confession. Upon questioning her, the attorney discovered a language barrier and some emotional trauma, which became problematic to sleuthing the case. Lloyd, clever and determined, discounted Noi’s confession, believing it to have been coerced by police, and through preliminary hearings, courtroom dramatics, key witnesses, misled speculation, and cruel accusations, the truth, while untidy, finally emerged in grand fashion.
Despite three trials, fluctuating self-confidence, and numerous roadblocks, Lloyd triumphed while creating tantalizing, exhilarating fodder for Seay to mold and craft into a rollicking murder trial that moves swiftly despite a surfeit of heavily detailed events and many supporting characters. Besides enticing Perry Mason fans, this book should please readers devilishly curious about the intricate workings of the justice system and the trial-by-jury process.
A bracing, spirited true-crime narrative that reads like fiction but is very much real and rooted in the brutality and injustices of contemporary life.
“Almost a Murder” by Jody Seay and Jim Lloyd is an engaging story about an inexperienced lawyer, Jim Lloyd, who is hired to defend Noi Kanchana Mitchell, charged with the brutal murder of her husband. Several obstacles occur for Jim – he has only tried one case before and lost, he is not rich and is scrambling for money to maintain his meager office, in addition to hiring investigators and expert witnesses. His client is Thai, has limited English skills, and is conned into making a statement of her guilt.
Like Jim, most of us believe in the justice system and hope that all will be treated fair and presumed innocent until proven guilty. Written in the first person, the author describes in realistic detail, his fears, sacrifice of his family, as well as his personal and professional growth.
I have to admit if Jim were my lawyer at the beginning of taking this case, I would have run as fast as I could. I’m not used to dealing with inept individuals especially ones in which my life depends upon. However, I will say he is very dedicated and determined.
The characters were well developed and captivating and the author’s experience with the judicial system served him well. He takes readers inside the mind of jurors, judges and law enforcement in great detail. Readers will find they love or hate the prosecutor and will sometimes find themselves questioning the actions of the judge.
“Almost a Murder” is one you can’t put down for fear you will miss the action. I was stunned at the lack of complete investigation of the evidence by the police. Did it surprise me? No. When you are desperate to convict a person regardless of who it is, one will do whatever is necessary to reach that goal. Such examples from the book include an interpreter who is not competent to accurately translate what is asked or answered of the targeted perpetrator, and police who did not follow investigative protocol.
“Almost a Murder” by Jody Seay and Jim Lloyd is one read that will leave you questioning our legal system in all areas. Readers will experience several emotions and hopefully like me, get you fired up at injustice. I highly recommend “Almost a Murder” for all who have an interest in criminal justice cases and enjoy a great legal thriller.
Available in bookstores or on-line
Jody, I inhaled it in 24 hours and absolutely loved it. I was impressed with your writing, the way you humanized the players, and the way you beautifully wove the story. Congratulations and thank you.