Anatomy of a Murder

Anatomy of a Murder

by Robert Traver

Librarian's note: An alternate cover edition can be found hereFirst published by St. Martin's in 1958, Robert Traver's Anatomy of a Murder immediately became the number-one bestseller in America, and was subsequently turned into the successful and now classic Otto Preminger film.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Mystery
  • Rating: 4.01
  • Pages: 437
  • Publish Date: March 15th 1983 by St. Martin's Press
  • Isbn10: 0312033567
  • Isbn13: 9780312033569

What People Think about "Anatomy of a Murder"

I can't believe I've never seen this book's movie; I love James Stewart. But at least this way I had no idea what was going to happen next in the book; that was nice. None of which is to say this isn't a terrifically fun book. And, of course, former DA Paul Biegler (Jimmy Stewart) (well, not in the book, except in my head) said it himself: "The case has everything. Voelker based the novel on a 1952 murder case in which he was the defense attorney." (< Wikipedia) It looks so simple at the beginning: When his wife Laura woke him up and to tell him she had been beaten and raped, Army Lieutenant Frederick Manion picked up his loaded Luger went out and shot the man she said did it, bartender Barney Quill. And it seems like it could be a tough sell: Laura is very frank (too frank) about Manny's jealousy, and however much empathy there can be for a man going after someone who raped his wife, within the strict letter of the law it simply was not justifiable homicide. The prosecution trying to set the victim in as positive a light as possible has no problem dismissing the rape as either irrelevant or imaginary, whichever's more convenient, and to tarnish her reputation in any way possible; the defense is concerned that Laura's beauty might tell against them, but otherwise is determined to stick her on the stand come what may. I'd be curious to see a more impersonal viewpoint of Laura's testimony, if such a thing were possible, because if she really did exhibit the level of sang-froid that she seems to in the book, she was a stunningly tough or toughened woman. Because Jimmy Stewart plays our hero in the movie, there may be little doubt going in as to how the case will turn out but it's not that simple. (And Barney actually died behind the bar, at least in the book - but that wouldn't be as much ...

While I've been reading legal thrillers by John Grisham for the last fifteen years, I'd never heard of this 1950s-era novel. The author was a practicing attorney and a judge, and wrote the novel based on one of his own cases. The judge's lifetime of of experience is on full display here, talking with the reader through Biegler's conversations with Manion and others about the nature of law itself: its uses, its shortcomings. In short, Anatomy of a Murder is a richer legal novel than any I've read, and I wish my library carried more by the author.

Most of the book is about the prep work for the trial and then the trial.

At #2 on the 1958 bestseller list is this story of a murder and trial, set in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The reader gets instructed along with the judge and jury, on the workings of such a plea.

Equally fascinating is to compare that time, 50 years ago, to today.

From there, the plot takes its reader through a passionate search for truth while guided by the law. Anatomy of a Murder then becomes a book about that evolved ritual of the law known as the trial. The process is guided by a judge, who's sole responsibility is to place the law above any human passion present in the courtroom. I decided to read Anatomy of a Murder because it was recommended as being the book I just described.

The story was broken into two parts: the investigation and the trial. I want to take a minute to appreciate the handling of a rape in 1950s literature.