Review

Murder One

by William Bernhardt

One
of the many blessings I have had in my life was being taught fifth
grade by Sister Theresa Mary at St. Agatha School in Upper
Arlington, Ohio. Sister loved to read, and I loved to read; and she
loved mysteries. I hung on her every word (except during math
class). And so I have always heard her in my ear, saying, "Don't
decide that you don't like a book without reading at least
one-third of it."
Sister's words came back to me within my first few pages of
MURDER ONE by William Bernhardt. It's a book about a defense
attorney who is representing a client accused of murder; the first
few pages basically were full of rotten cops and prosecutors who
would, it would seem, wipe their feet on the Constitution to secure
a conviction. My initial thought was, "Oops. We're not gonna get
along here." But I kept reading, simply because Bernhardt was
manifesting that he had that indescribable "it," that talent which
keeps the reader reading and the pages turning. I wasn't even a
third of the way through the first third of MURDER ONE when I
decided that I liked it very, very much.
The
story centers around a murder, very graphically described early on
--- you don't want to start this one over lunch at Tony Rubino's.
The victim is Sgt. Joe McNaughton, a Tulsa policeman who is quite
popular with his fellow officers. The apparent killer is
McNaughton's girlfriend, a 19-year-old wild thang named Keri
Dalcanton. The happy couple met while she was working in what is
presently called a "gentleman's showbar" and subsequently carried
on a torrid and imaginative relationship.
The
deceased, however, had a wife who took a dim view of his
extracurricular activity and demanded that he break it off. The
theory is that when McNaughton tried to end the relationship
Dalcanton murdered him. The local police, understandably, want to
see Dalcanton hang. Dalcanton's attorney, Ben Kincaid, smells a
setup. He is right. Oh, he is so right that you'll never believe
it. In fact, he's so right that he doesn't believe it.
Bernhardt plays fair and does a masterful job of pacing his
story right along so that before you know it you'll be done with
MURDER ONE and the afternoon will be gone. Oh yeah, one more thing.
This is one of the more erotic books I've read in quite a while.
Don't ask why. I'm not telling. Just consider me a mark and let it
go at that. Sister Theresa Mary is probably spinning like a
lathe.
Bernhardt has been toiling in the literary fields for awhile
now, garnering a lot of critical acclaim and slowly but surely
building that all-important readership base. MURDER ONE is going to
be the one that puts him over. There are at least a couple of
scenes out of this book that are going to be talked about quite a
bit for the next couple of months. And the ending? You'll never
guess. Never!

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

Murder One
by William Bernhardt

  • Publication Date: November 27, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett
  • ISBN-10: 0345428153
  • ISBN-13: 9780345428158