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It has been a while --- years, actually --- since D.W. Buffa has favored his reading public with a story featuring criminal defense attorney Joseph Antonelli, who has never lost a case. Buffa has infused his creation with an encyclopedic knowledge of classical literature and Western philosophy, which hold him in excellent stead whether he is in the courtroom or at a dinner party. One cannot walk away from a Buffa novel without feeling educated to at least some extent and entertained to the fullest.

That brings us to NECESSITY, the latest installment in the series, which is as current and controversial as today’s headlines. Buffa smoothly introduces the complex heart that beats at the center of the book. Walter Bridges, the current President of the United States, is assassinated at close quarters while visiting San Francisco. The accused is Kevin Fitzgerald, the distinguished senator from California who had requested an audience with Bridges. Fitzgerald, all but caught in the midst of the act, freely admits his culpability. Antonelli is approached from a couple of different quarters to defend Fitzgerald but refuses, at least at first. Actually, that description does not do NECESSITY justice. Let me (with the author’s permission) provide you with the opening sentences from Antonelli’s lips to your ear:

It was a strange case, a great case, a case that, once it got to trial, might well change forever the history of the United States. Other presidents had been murdered, but no one who had killed a president had ever been brought to trial. I did not want any part of it.

"Expect NECESSITY to appear on numerous 2018 'Best of' lists, both because of and in spite of what it is. It’s a beautifully told, riveting work that will sweep you up and carry you away."

And so the story would end, but for the fact that Antonelli is persuaded to change his mind and represent Fitzgerald after all. The defense that he mounts is that of “the law of necessity,” the distant cousin of self-defense and Good Samaritan acts. It permits an individual to commit what otherwise would be a criminal act when that person is confronted with an emergency situation that compels him or her to act in such a manner to avoid greater harm from occurring. Chaos erupts. Bridges, the victor of a controversial election that led to an even stormier term of office, was loved and hated in roughly equal measure by the populace. Given his death and its manner, it seems that half the country is anointing Fitzgerald a hero, while the other half wants to hang him immediately.

Antonelli is thrust into a political whirlpool that he navigates well, though not without difficulty, particularly because almost everyone seems to be lying to him about one thing or another under the pretext of attempting to assist him. True help comes from two unexpected sources. One is an enigmatic, intelligent and romantically irresistible woman named Tangerine, whose presence haunts every page following her introduction, whether she in onstage or not. The other is... But that would be telling, and would be giving away the conclusion to this fabulously conceived and wondrously told tale, in which Antonelli reveals all, including a major disclosure that no one will see coming.

Anyone with a love of literature as it is properly written will be infatuated with NECESSITY, whether they agree with every word of it or find themselves throwing the book (or reading device) across the room in anger at intervals of a few pages. Although I fell into the latter category, I was still compelled to read it as I was swept up in the momentum and beauty of the narrative. Buffa obviously wanted to make a legal political statement, but along the way also crafted one of the few serious romantic works of our time.

Expect NECESSITY to appear on numerous 2018 “Best of” lists, both because of and in spite of what it is. It’s a beautifully told, riveting work that will sweep you up and carry you away.

Reviewed by Anonymous on April 27, 2018

by D.W. Buffa

  • Publication Date: April 24, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Polis Books
  • ISBN-10: 1947993089
  • ISBN-13: 9781947993082