Without Fear or Favor – Robert K. Tanenbaum [Review]

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Blurb for Without Fear or Favor

In the twenty-ninth novel in the New York Times bestselling Karp-Ciampi series featuring the best fictional prosecuting attorney in literature (Mark Lane, #1 New York Times bestselling author), Butch Karp and his wife Marlene Ciampi must stop a radical organization of armed militants bent on the cold-blooded murder of uniformed on-duty police officers.
When a cop shoots down the son of a respected inner-city Baptist preacher, the community rises up in anger and demands to have the officer prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But there s something more than a call for justice at work here: a plot to bring down the city s police force through a conspiracy so vast and malicious only Butch Karp and his band of truth-seekers can untangle it.
Full of Tanenbaum s signature page turning intense action and heart pounding suspense from one hell of a writer (New York Post), Without Fear or Favor will keep you guessing until the final scene.”

 

 Jen’s Review of Without Fear or Favor

I read Without Fear or Favor because I enjoyed other Robert K. Tanenbaum books in the past. Although I received an ARC from FSB Associates and Gallery Books, I am giving an honest, unbiased review.

The Story

In my own words…

Butch Karp, D.A., is under fire (at one point, literally) from activists because he is not succumbing to pressures to indict an Asian cop who shot a black teen. Butch wants to wait until there is evidence that the cop is guilty before taking him to court. But some people are calling for blood.

There is a group, led by a man who calls himself Nat X, stirring up anti-cop sentiments and encouraging violence against law enforcement, including the district attorney. The media encourages this behavior by putting him and other extremists in the limelight. The messages they send to the public are: the police can’t be trusted, government is repressing black people, and the judicial system is corrupt.

Butch realizes that the shooting is related to the earlier death of a cop. He pieces everything together to prove that Nat X is the one responsible for both deaths. They arrest Nat X and prosecute him for the murder of the policeman.

The first half of the book includes the crimes and the investigation. The second half covers jury selection, the trial and afterward.

The pacing…

Although the beginning moved at a steady pace, I really didn’t get wrapped up in the story until around chapter 9. This is when one of the witnesses of the shooting is in danger. From there, until around chapter 16, I couldn’t put down the book.

Chapters 16 through 19 lagged because they were mostly about what happened while they were waiting to go to court and the start of jury selection. The author summarized a lot, and it was somewhat boring. But, once the trial began, I was hooked again.

Robert K. Tanenbaum shines when he is writing about what takes place in the courtroom. A reader can feel his expertise and passion for justice.

The Characters

Butch Karp

The star of the book. He’s a talented district attorney who believes in finding the truth, even if the truth doesn’t fit with what other people want to hear. I like him a lot, because he strives to do the right thing when others might fold to political pressures.

Marlene

D.A. Karp’s wife, who appears in the story from time to time. She’s a good partner for Karp because she offers a different perspective. For example, she isn’t above considering vigilante justice. Karp doesn’t condone it, but he understands her way of thinking.

Tony Cippio

The police officer who gets killed in the beginning of the book. He’s a golden boy from a cop family, who was just trying to connect with kids in the neighborhood he patrolled. He didn’t deserve to get shot. His character is pretty cliché, but that didn’t bother me because his character is balanced with other cops who aren’t as squeaky clean.

Anthony

A.k.a. Nat X, a self-proclaimed sociopath. He is the main person in the story who is calling for violence against law enforcement. His buddy, Big George, is no sweetheart, either. I thought it was interesting that they both liked to kill. It was like their ideology was a justification for murder. If they weren’t going after cops, they’d probably be killing someone else.

Others

There are a ton of other characters I could mention such as the ambitious reporter, kids who are either witnesses or accomplices, detectives and police officers, family members of victims, girls who hung around Nat X, a religious vigilante who lives in the sewers, the defense attorney, the judge, and others.

Although the book is highly populated, I didn’t have any trouble keeping the characters straight in my mind. They are all unique, and I felt they were sufficiently developed for the roles they played.

One thing I appreciated is how Tanenbaum balanced the characteristics of the police officers. He made it clear that race didn’t have anything to do with who was good and who was bad. They were good and bad cops of all colors.

The Writing

It took me some time to readjust to the way Tanenbaum writes, because most of the authors I read use limited point-of-view instead of omnisicent POV like he does. Sometimes it seemed strange to have a character psychoanalyze himself, especially when the character was a teenager. I had to remind myself that it was the narrator making those kinds of observations about the character, not the character himself.

While reading Without Fear or Favor, I felt like there were times the author intentionally kept a character from making a connection that seemed obvious or from taking a different route in the investigation that would have been easier. Easier for the investigator, I mean, not for the author. For example, they knew Ny-Lee was Nat X’s cousin. Couldn’t they have contacted Ny-Lee’s family or searched public records to find out Nat X’s real name? It seemed so obvious, but the investigators never even tried this.

Do I Recommend?

Yes. I recommend Without Fear or Favor for readers who like to follow a case from start to finish. It’s like an episode of Law and Order. You get to see the crime, the preparation, and the trial, along with all the political maneuvering and public backlash and pressure that takes place.

This story is relevant to today’s social problems.  Hate-mongering is a huge problem, whether it be on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or something else. And the media soaks it up and spits it back out, unfortunately causing more people to find reasons to hate entire groups of people.

Tanenbaum makes it clear that most cops and lawyers are trying to make the world a better place. It’s sad they have to fear for their lives when they are trying to do their jobs. Yes, there are bad apples, but they’re everywhere, not just in law enforcement and the judicial system. I agree we need to stop lumping all people together. As Tanenbaum showed in Without Fear or Favor, corruption and racism can be rooted out. We just need more Butch Karps in the world.

I strongly suggest reading this book. Even though I felt there were some problems with the pacing and plot, Without Fear or Favor is interesting, relevant, and uplifting if you look at it from the right perspective.

 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (B)


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About jpschaper

In addition to being a book blogger, I am a mother of three children, a retail backroom coordinator, and a wannabe writer (when I make time to do it).

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