The Juror by George Dawes Green

Warner (first), 1995

The jury is being chosen in the murder and conspiracy trial of a very bad mob boss. Juror 224, also known as Annie Laird of Pharaoh, New York, is a bit odd and not quite with it; she relies on her twelve-year-old son Oliver for a translation of the import of the trial. An employee (if that’s what he is) of the mob boss known as “the Teacher” and Vincent and Eben and Zach decides that she’s his candidate to get an acquittal. So he threatens her, lets her know that he can get Oliver any time he wants. She learns he’s bugged her home, her studio, her friends’ homes, the judge’s chambers and the jury room. He has made it clear that he owns her. And she changes, slowly and inexorably, under the pressure as he, perversely, discovers he loves her. And then the small shockwaves of their struggle initiate discrete explosions — a private eye working for Eben’s girlfriend is killed, a friend of Annie’s commits suicide. But by then Annie isn’t Juror 224 anymore, and she takes him on, this man of many names, to see in the end whether he can get Oliver before she can get him. Green, nominee for the Edgar for his first novel, The Caveman’s Valentine, shows his first effort was no fluke. Even if some elements of the plot require an immense suspension of disbelief, Green is seductive; he makes you want to go with him, to see what he’s about. In the end The Juror is that rare shocker that sticks with you, a bizarre and frightening story that is as persuasive as a bad dream and no amount of daylight or comfort or rationalizing can make it go away. (Kathy Phillips)

Originally published in Issue # 136 – March/April 1995

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