Title: No Lesser Plea Series: Butch Karp #1
Publisher: Franklin Watts
Release Date: May 1, 1987
Genres: Mystery & Thriller
Also by this author: Infamy
Robert K. Tanenbaum was on my list of authors I wanted to read. I decided to start with the first Butch Karp book, written back in 1987, since I have heard that this series is best read from start to finish. Considering there are twenty-six books already, I may never get around to reading all of them, but I wanted to at least try.
I am glad I put this series on my to-read list. No Lesser Plea is a solid legal mystery. The book follows several characters, starting in 1970 with a violent armed robbery. Butch Karp is the attorney who sees through the defendant’s ruse of insanity and refuses to accept anything but a murder one charge, hence the title No Lesser Plea.
If you are going to read this book, you need to put it in historical and cultural context. You can’t become offended by the blatant racism and sexism; it’s merely a reflection of the time. However, I felt this author was kind of on an anti-liberal campaign throughout the novel. So, if you are a liberal, prepare to have liberals spoke of in a less-than-friendly manner.
The tone of the novel is also rather cynical. The voice is stiff for the most part, except when in dialogue. If those things don’t bother you, and you haven’t read any of the Butch Karp books, I recommend starting with No Lesser Plea.
I thought the characters were all well-developed. I especially enjoyed the book when other lawyers got involved and helped Karp prove his case. The ending was a little unsatisfying because I wanted to see the actual sentencing, but I was okay about it overall.
I particularly enjoyed how Tanenbaum created a commentary on the medicalization of deviance. This is a concept we discuss often in my Social Deviance class. He also points out how the concept of evil shifted from the realm of religion to the realm of psychiatric medicine. A person was no longer inherently evil; he/she was given a sick label instead.
For you non-sociologists out there, I still think this is a great book to read if you like to watch a bad guy try to get away with a crime while a tenacious attorney does everything in his power to prove him guilty.
My rating is 4.5 stars, merely because I found the beginning a little boring and I skimmed a few times.