D.W. Buffa






D.W. Buffa
Allen & Unwin, January 2006
Reviewed by Sally Roddom

The Evangeline is a ship specially built for her owner; built to sail anywhere, under any weather condition. She is equipped with every kind of high tech apparatus available. Just like the Titanic, the Evangeline was built to stay afloat, and just like the Titanic she goes down; she sinks in a violent storm off the coast of Africa. Fourteen people are crammed into a single lifeboat. Only six survive to be rescued forty days later. The lifeboats had been adequately provisioned and there had been enough lifeboats to take all the passengers and the crew in the unlikely event of an emergency; yet somehow only one lifeboat took survivors and that with a minimum of food and water. When the stores that were on the lifeboat were exhausted, the only remaining source of sustenance had to be used. One of the survivors, the captain Vincent Marlowe, is charged with murder. His only defence is that it was necessary to kill some to save the others.

How far would you go to survive? Would you be wrong to take whatever course is necessary to ensure the survival of many at the expense of a few? This is the moral decision a jury is asked to make in this court procedural. The courtroom scenes are excellent. I enjoyed the quick exchanges of the cross examinations, as well as the eloquence of both attorneys' arguments. The strength of this fictional story is that the author, D.W. Buffa, doesn't fill the plot with unnecessary gore, shallow romances, or any other such page padding devices. He focuses on what he knows best, the law.

THE EVANGELINE does have some weaknesses as well. Some of the characters in this book are a bit too one dimensional and there was the odd spot where a few of the passages and lines of dialogue sounded a tad artificial. However, in spite of this tiny quibble, the story held my interest. Whenever defence attorney William Darnell, speaks about the law it is with intelligence, insight, and passion. He commands the reader's undivided attention.

First reviewed for Murder and Mayhem, March 2006


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