Wrongful Death - Baine Kerr Somewhat disappointingly, very little of the novel takes place in the courtroom contrary to my expectations and the book’s billing as a legal thriller. It certainly provides a glimpse into the legal machinations surrounding a court case and perhaps the lack of courtroom time makes it more realistic.

Kant v Hume; Idealism v Nihilism; categorical imperative v antecedents and consequences. That was the subject of Elliott Stone’s --his name is teased out only gradually--thesis at Harvard. You’ll see the relevance by the end of the book.

Following the death of Kathleen, his wife from cancer (random), Stone immerses himself in international law and agrees to take on war crimes trials in the Balkans. His last case, before the Balkans, is as conservator for Dale Stillwell, a railroad worker (Stone had been a railroad defense attorney for two decades handling and growing rich from railroad crossing accidents (consequences)) who had been badly injured in a yard accident when he sandwiched between two engines during a snowstorm that prevented the engineer of his locomotive from seeing his hand-signals as they rounded a curve into a waiting train that should not have been there. He approves a settlement on behalf of Dale and June (ironically, she was the engineer of the locomotive and married him in a fit of guilt perhaps) for some $12 million.

Stone tells the story of his experiences in the Balkans to June, two years later, who is now in a coma in the hospital after being kicked in the head by Dale (Stone had overheard Dale saying he would kill her; Dale was ostensibly unhappy with the settlement, but had been ruled incompetent because of his injuries by the trial judge, hence Stone's conservator-ship.)

I’ll stop relating any more of the plot. Rest assured that seemingly disparate pieces of story fit together, and by the last third of the book, you’ll have difficulty putting the book down. The scenes where they are trying to track down a substance using a variety of sophisticated methods was very cool. And the method of murder was particularly devious and devastating. "The greatest evil is the evil that can pass for good." and even more unsettling, "Reason in isolation can be dangerous. Reason unrestrained by sympathy." So we are left with a person's own definition of good and why evil must be committed to preserve a self-concept of good. The killer is the epitome of evil in this book.

First rate legal novel that pits Hume and Kant against each other all over again.