Blame, by Linda Rocker. Wheatmark. 286 pages. Trade paperback $14.95.
Linda Rocker’s new novel follows Punishment (2012) and precedes Innocence, which will conclude her trilogy. This simply-named novel is also well named. One thing readers learn from the book is that many are blamed but few are guilty. The rush to blame a person or persons for an unpleasant occurrence comes more out of emotional need than from any reasonable assessment of motive and evidence.
When Jeffrey Klauser takes his own life, shortly before his wedding day, the young man is not allowed to be thought accountable for his actions. Something or someone must have driven him to this desperate end. Should we blame the girlfriend who exhibited hesitation about marrying a drug addict? The doctor who may have overprescribed medication for pain? The parents who failed to take his problems seriously?
The actors in the legal system will frame the issue so a verdict allows for the transition from blame to guilt, both a moral and a societal label.
Ms. Rocker, from her many years of trial experience as a litigator and judge, allows us a close-up examination of the system, including the strengths and frailties of those charged with making it work. A trial is many different things to the many people involved.
To prosecutor and State’s Attorney Charlie Graham, it is the step to public adoration that will win him a judgeship, perhaps the held by Janet Kanterman, whom he will try to discredit through his manipulation of the case brought against Dr. Neil Hammer – the pain specialist. To Mrs. Klauser, the suicide’s mother and the driving force behind this case, it is about blame and revenge. Mrs. Klauser’s need is interpreted by the narrator as resulting from her buried guilt over her poor parenting.
Inside of the courtroom drama, which focuses in part on the overreaching of Charlie Graham, are several other story lines. One of these follows the romance between Casey Portman, Judge Kanterman’s bailiff, and the much older but thoroughly attractive Sheriff Luke Anderson. Missed signals in communication and expectation have led to a major rupture in their relationship.
Casey is angry and despondent, and things get much worse when she is attacked – raped and severely beaten – by a mob hit man who was just after his twisted kind of fun. The man was actually in the courthouse following a totally separate case from that of the pain doctor trial. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the November 27, 3014 Naples Florida Weekly, the December 3 Fort Myers edtion, and the December 4 Bonita Springs and Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte edition, click here Florida Weekly – Blame