Witch Hunt

Posted by barb on Apr 4, 2004 in Books |

A True Story of Social Hysteria and Abused Justice
by Kathryn Lyon

I’m done with true crime, unless a trusted friend specifically recommends something to me.

Witch Hunt chronicles injustices of the child welfare, police and justice departments in Wenatchee, Washington. Children suspected of being sexually abused were questioned for hours on end until the interviewer heard what he wanted. These interviews were never recorded, and any notes were destroyed, lest they contradict the final report. Suspects were interviewed by police, their requests for lawyers ignored, until they signed confessions. Many of the suspects were poor, mentally retarded, or illiterate. Prosecutors withheld relevant information from defending lawyers and filed new charges days before trials were to begin.

While the story itself sounds compelling, Lyon tells it in excruciating detail. The story should have been told in half the number of pages (or less). Just because an author has a bit of research, it doesn’t mean that it has to be included in the book — true crime authors, in my limited experience, need to learn the strength of summary over scene for parts of their story when summary will do the job just as well as a point-by-point account.

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