The Body in Question by Jill Ciment
English | 2019 | Mystery/Thriller | ePUB | 1.0 Mb
The Body in Question : The place: central Florida. The situation: a sensational murder trial, set in a courthouse more Soviet than Le Corbusier; a rich, white teenage girl—a twin—on trial for murdering her toddler brother.
Two of the jurors: Hannah, a married fifty-two-year-old former Rolling Stone and Interview Magazine photographer of rock stars and socialites (she began to photograph animals when she realized she saw people “as a species”), and Graham, a forty-one-year-old anatomy professor. Both are sequestered (she, juror C-2; he, F-17) along with the other jurors at the Econo Lodge off I-75. As the shocking and numbing details of the crime are revealed during a string of days and courtroom hours, and the nights play out in a series of court-financed meals at Outback Steak House (the state isn’t paying for their drinks) and Red Lobster, Hannah and Graham fall into a furtive affair, keeping their oath as jurors never to discuss the trial. During deliberations the lovers learn that they are on opposing sides of the case. Suddenly they look at one another through an altogether different lens, as things become more complicated…
After the verdict, Hannah returns home to her much older husband, but the case ignites once again and Hannah’s “one last dalliance before she is too old” takes on profoundly personal and moral consequences as The Body in Question moves to its affecting, powerful, and surprising conclusion.
“This is a murder trial,” the judge says.
The defendant slides her eyes sideways in her expressionless face. C-2 follows the stare. It lands on a middle-aged woman seated in the front row of the gallery, her face an illustration of anguish. A blond replica of the defendant comforts the woman, but this version is prettier. Her face is vibrant, as if each feature were an individual puppet and she were the puppet master. If C-2 closed her eyes, she would remember that face.
“The trial may take up to three weeks,” the judge explains, “and may involve sequestration. Is there anyone who believes themselves incapable of fulfilling such an obligation?”
C-2’s standby excuse, that she couldn’t sit under “In God We Trust,” seems flippant, almost reprehensible to use given that the middle-aged woman is shuddering and imploding in the gallery. C-2 could tell the judge that her husband is eighty-six, the truth, and that she is his sole caretaker, her fear.
The woman too old to be pregnant and the man with the lucent blue eyes raise their hands.
“F-17,” the man introduces himself to the judge. “I’m a professor at the medical school. My Gross Anatomy course begins next week. I have twenty-one cadavers waiting for me.”
“Aren’t they already dead?” the judge asks.
Again that self-mocking shrug. “Yes,” he says.
“They can wait.”
The woman’s hand is still up. “J-12. I’m going in for tests next week,” she says.
The judge waits a beat for anyone else to speak up.”