Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

Home · Articles · News · Books · To Account for Murder BY William...
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To Account for Murder BY William C. Whitbeck

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - January 31st, 2011
Political Pawn: Judge recalls a state senator’s assassination in 1945
“To Account for Murder”
By William C. Whitbeck
The Permanent Press, $28
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
Murder and politics made uneasy bedfellows back in the Michigan of 1945. It was a time, just after World War II, when governmental corruption ran wide and deep through the state; when contracts went to the one who most generously greased a palm or two; and when deals were hammered out in Lansing clubs and bars, and in backrooms where whiskey flowed and paid-for women freely entertained.
Then came crusaders like Judge Leland Carr and special prosecutor Kim Sigler, who later became governor of Michigan, with subpoenas and indictments flying in all directions, shaking up the Purple Gang -- which was behind a lot of the corruption -- and the politicians happily at home in the gangsters’ pockets.
State Senator Warren Green Hooper, of Albion, got caught up in the widely thrown net and was set to testify before the one-man grand juror when he was found shot three times in the head, dead in his car, parked beside M-99.
Members of the Purple Gang went to prison for the murder, but the man who ordered the murder never spent a day in jail. This, even as reporters assigned to cover the story earned Pulitzer’s for their articles and one-third of the state legislature was, at one time, under indictment.

MICHIGAN MURDER
It is from this intriguing background of a true Michigan murder that the current Chief Judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals, William C. Whitbeck, has set a mystery in which he uses the 1945 murder of a state senator as the jumping off place for his novel, “To Account for Murder.”
Whitbeck’s imaginary characters are set against the ins and outs of Lansing’s legal and political world. He draw’s heavily on his background among lawyers, crooks, and the innocent who appear before him, to give a portrait of a world rarely drawn with the precision we get here. The judge not only takes the reader through all the historical underbelly of gang/politician coziness but into the places and times when men were corrupted, and warnings were followed with murder.
In “To Account for Murder,” Charlie Cahill is back from fighting in World War II, minus his left arm — lost to a German machine gun, and without his father, who had been killed while running alcohol across the Detroit River during prohibition. Charlie is an attorney looking for a job in Lansing. He’s already been caught up in the murder of his lover’s husband and now becomes a part of the team investigating that very murder. The investigation takes him to places he never wanted to go, and exposes his own corruption as he works to get someone else convicted of the murder he abetted.
Cahill, at the beginning of the book, is on his deathbed, but with this chilling story to tell. The novel moves from November, 1996, back in time to those post-war days, back to the death of the state senator, and back into murky maneuverings through Lansing’s corridors of government right up to an ending that is a surprise not only for Cahill but for others around him.

LEGAL BEAGLE
As with all books where the writer has a particular and intimate knowledge of places or people—such as Aaron Stander’s “Shelf Ice,” Mardi Link’s “Isadore’s Secret,” Fleda Brown’s “Driving with Dvorak,” or Elmore Leonard’s stories of Detroit—it is Whitbeck’s knowledge of the law—the intricacies and arcane twists—that set this book apart, moving it from surprising twist to compelling turn.
The judge knows his territory and mines it well, delivering a deft mystery which seems not only close in time but in subject matter. Corruption never grows old. Not in the minds of those who read about it nor in the short memories of those who commit it.
The last judge to write a ringing story of lust and murder in Michigan was Michigan Supreme Court Justice John Voelker and his “Anatomy of a Murder.” That novel was also loosely based on a true murder case and eventually became a widely acclaimed 1959 movie starring Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remick, and Ben Gazzara.
“To Account for Murder” was recently chosen as one of the Michigan Libraries Notable Books for 2010, for its depiction of a Michigan murder and as an addition to the state’s history by a prominent jurist.

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s next mystery, “Dead Dogs and Englishmen” will be out from Midnight Ink in May, 2011.

 
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