Cover image for Temple and shipman
Temple and shipman
Pfarrer, Donald.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : MS in a Bottle, [1999]

Physical Description:
272 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A young black man is beaten to death by white policemen. One of the officers, Jeffrey Temple, the man who threw the fatal punch, thwarts his partners' plan to plant a knife on the dead man. Temple becomes a soldier of truth. John Shipman, father of the dead kid, demands justice--but justice means one thing to Shipman and quite another to the DA. Will Shipman kill Temple? The novel follows these two men and their families from the opening catastrophe to the inevitable climax.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Pfarrer's novel, set in 1982, takes off from a familiar scene--a young black man has been killed by white police officers in a midwestern city at night. John Shipman is one of the wealthiest black men in town. His son, Hawk, is the victim of police brutality. The tragedy forces Shipman to examine his attitudes on race and their impact on his family and social standing. Jeffrey Temple, one of the attacking officers, is a blond, blue-eyed, former pro football player. His decision to uphold the truth puts his career and family in harm's way. Shipman's wife, Odell Diann, is a spiritual woman whose love for her husband and children alerts her to the potential for further disaster. Sam Lovico is the deputy district attorney whose faith in justice cause all of the men to have their beliefs and convictions challenged. This novel would be a great episode for a TV drama such as Homicide or New York Undercover. And yet it is fiction that is, sadly, all too real. --Lillian Lewis

Publisher's Weekly Review

What starts out as a typical police brutality yarn takes a schmaltzy turn while examining racial justice, familial bonds, and the price of perpetuating harmful stereotypes. Three white police officers‘Banes, Ruthenbeck and Temple‘are hunting for a black rapist when they come upon a young black man, Hawk Shipman, who fits the description. During questioning a fight erupts and Temple, a former pro football player with a short fuse, kills Hawk with his fists. Hawk, as it turns out, is an innocent college honors student on his way to the barbecue restaurant owned by his father, John. Ruthenbeck plants a knife on the dead youth and invents a plausible scenario to justify their murderous mistake: Temple was using necessary force to restrain the armed and violent suspect. Hawk's death strikes a sentimental chord for Temple: he has a son of his own, and thwarted dreams, too, with his troubled marriage and hopes of becoming a lawyer. Temple wants to come clean, and all but exposes Ruthenbeck's fabrication. Another painful decision is made by John Shipman, who initially is a poorly characterized figure who seems to accept the death of his son all too easily. More from plot contrivance than sustained development, John suddenly begins to plot with a security guard friend to avenge Hawk's killing. While Pfarrer (Guerilla Persuasion) delivers a bang-up action beginning, he slows the narrative with ruminations on race that veer away from the suspenseful core of the novel and give a maudlin edge to the plot. Yet this is an earnest attempt to come to terms with serious questions that plague our society. (Feb.) FYI: Journalist Pfarrer covered the civil rights movement for national newspapers. He founded MS in a Bottle to address questions of racial relations. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved