Sunday, 28 January 2018
Unjustly Accused by Susan L. Stewart - Review
Unconnected though it pretty much is from the theme or genre of my own work, I undertook to review Unjustly Accused for the benefit of a fellow author, and I'm really glad that I did.
This isn't the type of book that I would read ordinarily, but once I had got going I found myself impatient to learn what was going to happen next, and I was somewhat reluctant to put it down. Which, I guess, is the measure of a good story which is well written and presented.
Beyond a brief introductory piece by the author, Unjustly Accused is a story narrated in the first person by Corey, the lead character, who is one of two friends from the United States who visit the Dominican Republic for a break and end up undergoing an adventure of a kind they hadn't bargained for, being banged up for a crime of which they were entirely innocent and facing the daunting prospect of a trial which could result in them spending three years or more languishing in a seedy Central American jail.
As if this wasn't bad enough, their anxiety is made worse by the very serious shortcomings of the Dominican legal system. After having eventually been told of the allegations made against them they might have had cause to hope that the apparent inability of the prosecution to agree on where they had been arrested, by whom, and why would lead to a less than robust case against them when the time came for them to appear in court. Sadly their initial optimism took no heed of the possibility that their translator might not be able to speak or understand proper English, or of the fact that their lawyers might actually want them to remain locked up in order that they may extract more money from them.
All the time that this is happening Corey is having to constantly mitigate the words and actions of his un-streetwise friend Jeff who continually threatens to land them in even deeper trouble with his loose talk and general lack of nous. Unsurprisingly his moods swing as a result between depression, resilience and a grim resignation to his unfortunate predicament.
Quite aside from the injustice of their arrest and incarceration, the two friends have to deal with the ongoing demands upon them to pay their way inside, as it would seem that in the Dominican prison system there is paid-for time and another kind of time which one is compelled to do if one is unable to pay, which doesn't sound too appealing to say the least.
I enjoyed this book very much, it retained my interest throughout and always left me eager to take in one more chapter before resting it down. As a UK reader I felt like I could hear the American twang in Corey's voice as it called out from some of the terminology used and the attitude that it displayed. I'll not spoil the story by revealing its ending, but I will say that it had me captivated to the last.