Book Review: By Reason of Insanity
Written by Randy Singer –
Reviewed by Nike Chillemi –
Picture this: popular crime reporter Catherine “Cat” O’Rourke is having visions of babies dying. Is Randy Singer’s chic heroine having nightmares? Maybe, except these hallucinogenic images happen when she’s awake. Does she have a mental disorder?She knows so many details about a series of kidnappings and murders that she soon becomes the prime suspect. Even Cat finds it easier to believe she’s a cold blooded serial killer with a split personality than it is to believe she’s getting messages from God. So when she’s arrested for these heinous crimes committed by the “Blood Avenger,” she has her local attorney bring in Quinn Newburg, a slick Las Vegas attorney who specializes in the insanity plea. Quinn tells Cat it’s not necessary for him, as her attorney to believe she is innocent. All the while, with one twist after another, Singer’s hand masterfully keeps the reader wondering about Cat’s innocence as well.
Singer links two murder trials, each with insanity pleas. The book opens with Quinn using the insanity plea in an attempt to get an acquittal for his sister Annie, who admitted killing her abusive husband. What he gets for her is a hung jury and a mistrial. Cat covered that story for her newspaper and it brought back a flood of memories about her own college rape. I felt her pain. It’s hard to read about victims of abuse. One of the author’s strengths is his ability to shed light on such abuse while maintaining the dignity of characters who are victims.
The second case focuses on a series of murders committed by the Blood Avenger who leaves Bible verses at the scene of these grizzly crimes. The victims of these brutal murders are rapists who got away with their crimes and the attorneys who got them off. Cat’s police source is leaking inside information to her, but he eventually betrays her, or so she thinks. Her source, on the other hand, thinks she betrayed him.
Singer portrays protagonist, Quinn Newburg, as charismatic, and brilliant in the courtroom, yet also a highly flawed individual. A poker player with a penchant for cheating, he’s quite captivating, and possesses more than enough vices to spare. When he gains temporary custody of his niece, at first he gives less than his all. The author develops their relationship in a tender way that pulls the reader in. Soon Quinn is fully committed to protecting this wounded child.
The murder mystery part of the book worked to a tee. There are more than enough plot twists and red herrings. Several times, I thought I knew who the Avenger was, but nope, I was wrong. When the identity of the Blood Avenger finally was revealed at the very end, it was a shock. Didn’t see that one coming at all.
By Reason of Insanity is a legal thriller that can stand up next to those of John Grisham, Barbara Parker, and Michael Connelly. There are a few intense themes: rape, sadistic murders, the brutality of a casino crime boss. Without a doubt, the read is exciting and fascinating.