A Calamity of Souls by David Baldacci @davidbaldacci ‏@GrandCentralPub

Posted April 9, 2024 by Anne - Books of My Heart in Book Review / 16 Comments

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Calamity of Souls by David Baldacci @davidbaldacci ‏@GrandCentralPubA Calamity of Souls by David Baldacci
Published by Grand Central Publishing on April 16, 2024
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 496
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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Set in the tumultuous year of 1968 in southern Virginia, a racially-charged murder case sets a duo of white and Black lawyers against a deeply unfair system as they work to defend their wrongfully-accused Black defendants in this courtroom drama from #1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci. 

Jack Lee is a white lawyer from Freeman County, Virginia, who has never done anything to push back against racism, until he decides to represent Jerome Washington, a Black man charged with brutally killing an elderly and wealthy white couple. Doubting his decision, Lee fears that his legal skills may not be enough to prevail in a case where the odds are already stacked against both him and his client. And he quickly finds himself out of his depth when he realizes that what is at stake is far greater than the outcome of a murder trial.

Desiree DuBose is a Black lawyer from Chicago who has devoted her life to furthering the causes of justice and equality for everyone. She comes to Freeman County and enters a fractious and unwieldy partnership with Lee in a legal battle against the best prosecutor in the Commonwealth. Yet DuBose is also aware that powerful outside forces are at work to blunt the victories achieved by the Civil Rights era.  

Lee and DuBose could not be more dissimilar. On their own, neither one can stop the prosecution’s deliberate march towards a guilty verdict and the electric chair. But together, the pair fight for what once seemed impossible: a chance for a fair trial and true justice.

I don’t read very much historical fiction.  It is often degrading to women.  The commonplace beliefs are upsetting.  A Calamity of Souls was heartbreaking each step of the way.

With less scientific methods, and the prejudice in law enforcement and judicial systems, a black man arrested for murder is likely to be convicted.  He is beaten before he even makes it to the jail.  The death penalty in the state is resurrected by the courts in days to be applied to his case.

A local attorney, Jack Lee takes on his defense and is aided by Desiree DuBose, a nationally prominent female black attorney. They face multiple threats to their lives.  Even when witnesses prove facts against the conviction,  the court and jury seem inclined to convict.  It’s infuriating how people who lie and some were coerced to frame the defendant. Jack and Desiree work hard and really do uncover many facts and lies.

The true beauty of the story is the development of the characters with their complex beliefs and morality, which is realistic.  Jack’s mother is an example of the dichotomy, all in one person.  I believe the prejudice and happenings to be representative of the actual situation in Virginia at this time. Sadly, some still have these feelings and biases.

I felt a real connection between the racist political machinations of George Wallace and his violence in this time,  and the current situations promoting this division and violence because someone is different.  They find the truth irrelevant ; the rule of law unnecessary to their decisions. The only thing critical is their power and greed.

The real killer is revealed, which brings some relief. Because they are white, they don’t even face charges. Although some who manipulated various false evidence are held accountable.


About David Baldacci

David Baldacci has been writing since childhood, when his mother gave him a lined notebook in which to write down his stories. (Much later, when David thanked her for being the spark that ignited his writing career, she revealed that she’d given him the notebook to keep him quiet, “because every mom needs a break now and then.”) He published his first novel, Absolute Power, in 1996; it was subsequently adapted for film, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 36 novels for adults; all have been national and international bestsellers, and several have been adapted for film and television. His novels have been translated into more than 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries, with over 130 million worldwide sales. David has also published six novels for younger readers.

A lifelong Virginian, David graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia School of Law, after which he practiced law in Washington, D.C.

David and his wife, Michelle, are the co-founders of the Wish You Well Foundation®, which supports family and adult literacy in the United States. In 2008 the Foundation partnered with Feeding America to launch Feeding Body & Mind, a program to address the connection between literacy, poverty and hunger. Through Feeding Body & Mind, more than 1 million new and used books have been collected and distributed through food banks to families in need.

David and his family live in Virginia.

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Posted April 9, 2024 by Anne - Books of My Heart in Book Review / 16 Comments

16 responses to “A Calamity of Souls by David Baldacci

  1. I’ve seen this author around for years but somehow have never read anything by him. This looks tense and unsettling but worth reading.

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