Denver Bar Association
November 2004
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Book Reviews

by Diane Hartman, John E. Moye

Seeds of Doubt, by Stephanie Kane
Reviewed by Diane Hartman


In her best book yet, Kane brings us to the very end of this mystery wondering what the heck is going to happen. Then, it ends perfectly.

But to the beginning: The "seed" in the title has a double meaning. Tiny nuances of doubt are sprinkled throughout the novel, steering the reader this way and that. Should you trust any one of them? All bets are off.

The main allusion in the title is to Rachel Boyd, who may or may not be a bad seed. We learn that she just got out of prison after serving 30 years for the murder of a young playmate, when both lived in "the quiet agricultural community of Vivian, Colorado." Now living with her brother Chris in the Denver Country Club area, perhaps she would have gone unnoticed, except for the kidnapping and murder of a six year-old named Benjamin Sparks. He was the son of the gardener who tended Chris’ yard, and who happened to stay with Rachel while Chris and Ben’s dad went to take care of something at Chris’ work. That hot summer day, Rachel walked with Ben to get ice cream; they returned to the house and took a nap. When she woke up, she said, he was gone.

High-profile criminal defense lawyer Jackie Flowers is asked by her old boyfriend Dennis to defend Rachel. Chris Boyd, CEO of a large Denver bank, hands Jackie a check that’s double her normal fee. Clear my sister, he says; hire whomever you need to get the job done.

At the arraignment, as Jackie spars with dowdy, hapless Cal Doby from the district attorney’s office, the judge decides to release Rachel, but wants her to stay with someone besides her brother before the trial. Jackie finds herself volunteering to have Rachel live with her. One benefit to this arrangement is that Rachel worked in food service at the prison, and cooks wonderful meals. The downside is that the rekindling of romance between Dennis and Jackie becomes a little awkward. Rachel, beautiful and mysterious, is not forthcoming about the circumstances of the earlier murder, preferring to ask Jackie lots of personal questions.

Most readers will have become comfortable with the characters in Kane’s previous books. Pilar, her private investigator, is a fast-driving, fast-talking, pretty woman who’s very protective of Jackie. Next door lives Lily, a brilliant, stubborn and creative child adopted from China and not understood by her new parents—but who just adores Jackie. Then there’s Dennis, responsible for Jackie having to leave the public defender’s office and quite a dark character is the previous book. Can he be trusted?

Her empathy for the underdog come from Jackie’s dyslexia, which caused so much humiliation and pain when she was small and still haunts her. Because she keeps it a secret, she gets into some scary situations. This figures heavily into the dramatic ending of this engaging book.


In Praise of Fair Colorado: The Practice of Poetry, History, and Judging, by Justice Greg Hobbs
Reviewed by John E. Moye

 Justice Greg Hobbs’ extensive and impressive anthology is a significant contribution of thoughtful poems, detailed diaries, eloquent speeches, short essays, personal letters, substantive articles, and judicial opinions by a man who sees the state of Colorado with eyes that admire its wilderness and beauty and are amazed at its resources and power. As his writings reflect his observations, his focus meanders through very serious and complicated topics in the law to whimsical comments about the environment.

The book presents a fascinating juxtaposition of Justice Hobbs’ various writings into a collection of impressions of Colorado and its citizens. It’s fun to develop your own interpretations of some of his poems. They are not always obvious. For example, I think he is verbally illustrating his judicial acumen with a Colorado-based example in "Our Own Peaches," where he wrote about breach of legal rights:

"The art of sealing breaches starts
with peeling back excuses
so juice of mutual promises
will renew our taste
for tasting rights
of others,
as our own Peaches."

His touching letter to his daughter, Emily, upon her commencement of law school begins his section on "Lawyers & Judges, Trail Guides & Mapmakers." He verbally develops all of the emotions of beginning law school, through the oath of admission and his views on ethics and the professional practice.

His expertise as a water lawyer is amply displayed and demonstrated in his section on "Water and the West."

He kept a diary of a trip to Mesa Verde in May 2003. The entries are peppered with history and details that demonstrate his vast understanding of the geology of the area and details of the civilization of the Anasazi.

Finally, nowhere is his intimate writing style more appreciated than in his judicial opinions, reproduced in part in the "Constitutional Perspectives" section. His dissent from Board of Education of Jefferson County v. Wilder describes the facts of the case in the style of a fascinating short story, while his historical facts and description of the use of tents as places of habitation makes the opinion in People v. Schafer an enjoyable read.

Readers of this book should feel indebted to Justice Hobbs for sharing his view of (and in some cases his vision for) the Colorado he observes and experiences. His book encompasses poetry, history, and judging, and his poems address law, justice, history, the environment, the water, the land, human rights, and family. After reading this book, you’ll conclude that it would be difficult to find someone who cares more about Colorado and those subjects than Justice Hobbs.

Justice Hobbs has assigned all of the royalties from this book to the Legal Aid Foundation of Colorado. Copies of his book are available for $23.95 from Bradford Publishing Company, 303-292-2590.

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