Cover image for The judgment
The judgment
Buffa, Dudley W., 1940-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Warner Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
418 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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When Judge Calvin Jeffries becomes the first sitting judge to be murdered while serving in office, charismatic criminal defense attorney Joseph Antonelli finds himself smack in the middle of a riveting case. As he works through the intricacies of a homicide audacious enough to strike at the heart of justice, the ensuing investigation and trial reveal a deadly trail of evil, shattered lives, and revenge. While challenging traditional notions of crime and punishment, the novel also calls into question the very principles of our judicial system and marks the breakthrough of a master storyteller. D.W. Buffas The Defense (Henry Holt, 1997) received great praise and grossed more than 40,000 hardcover copies. The Prosecution (Henry Holt, 1999) was also lauded by critics and garnered equally impressive sales.

Author Notes

D. W. Buffa served as a defense attorney for ten years. He has a doctorate in political science from the University of Chicago. He is the author of the Joseph Antonelli series. Buffa's other books include The Last Man, Evangeline, The Grand Master and The Dark Backward. He also writes under the pseudonym of Lawrence Alexander (Rubicon, 2008).

(Bowker Author Biography) D. W. Buffa served as a defense attorney for 10 years. He has a doctorate in political science from the University of Chicago & currently lives in Napa, California, where he is at work on his next book.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

There was no greater legal mind than that of Judge Calvin Jeffries, but his murder was not mourned by defense attorney Joseph Antonelli, who despised the old codger for the malicious ways he abused the bench. Jeffries' presumed killer, quickly tried and convicted, subsequently kills himself. Who, then, murdered a second judge in the same manner? Antonelli, a storied litigator with a nose for injustice, doesn't fall for the conventional wisdom espoused by the DA's office. Instead, he digs deep, following a path that leads to corruption, greed, and obsession. Antonelli is an intriguing hero, but Buffa's writing is forced, with dialogue sometimes so contrived as to make readers ask, "Would someone really say that?" Particularly awkward is the way Buffa uses dialogue to provide backstory. The action itself is quite riveting, however, and once the plot thickens (and, boy, is it thick), you hardly notice the cliches and awkward turns of phrase. Stay away if you prefer character-driven mysteries, but jump aboard if a good story is more than enough. --Mary Frances Wilkens

Publisher's Weekly Review

Inventing a perfectly odious victim and an obvious killer with the perfect alibi, Buffa cooks up a convoluted legal thriller littered with plot-twist land mines that explode when least expected. Toss in a poignant midlife romance and an innocent, put-upon defendant, and you have a novel with wide appeal. So few people grieve when loathsome circuit judge Calvin Jeffries is stabbed to death and gutted in the courthouse parking garage that it comes as a shock when the confessed killer is revealed to be a homeless man with no apparent ties to the victim. When a second sharp-tongued judge is killed the same way in the same spot, the cops call it a copycat killing and arrest a retarded homeless man on an anonymous tip, finding him with the murder weapon. Seasoned defense attorney Joseph Antonelli, himself a particularly maligned target of the venomous Jeffries, is persuaded to take the case and becomes convinced that both murders were planned by the same brilliant criminal one Antonelli is particularly familiar with, since the man once shot him. Antonelli's investigator, disbarred lawyer and recovering alcoholic Howard Flynn, sees his own dead son in the retarded defendant and throws himself wholeheartedly into the case. Unfortunately, Antonelli's suspect has been in the state home for the criminally insane for the past 12 years and could not possibly have committed the crimes. Meanwhile, bachelor Antonelli's high school sweetheart re-enters his life after a bout with manic depression and a rough divorce. Buffa (The Prosecution) once again produces a fast-spinning tale that jolts and veers enticingly off-track, but always stays comfortably in sight of the main objective. Well-developed characters and the rich Portland, Ore., milieu add depth to this excellent thriller. Agent, Wendy Sherman. Major ad/ promo; author tour; audio. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Buffa served as a defense attorney before he became a writer and has a brilliant grasp of the legal process. The Judgment is a thrilling book about the perfect crime, which simultaneously entertains and informs. Two judges are murdered just weeks apart. They seem to be open-and-shut cases involving random acts of violence until attorney Joseph Antonelli manages to uncover a suspect who links the two, a suspect who seems above the law. Reader Dennis Predovic dramatizes this devious trail of obsession and retribution with increasing urgency as the plot builds to a resolution. In sum, it's a superb recording, recommended to mystery lovers everywhere. James L. Dudley, Westhampton, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.