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Blood and Circumstance    by Frank Turner Hollon order for
Blood and Circumstance
by Frank Turner Hollon
Order:  USA  Can
MacAdam/Cage, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Blood and Circumstance is an exemplary and unusual novel. The premise for Frank Turner Hollon's most highly recommended novel is deceptively simple. Joel Stabler - a young man accused of murder - is being evaluated by Dr. Ellis L. Andrews, a clinical forensic psychologist. The doctor's summary evaluation - based on his extensive pretrial interviews with the subject (all of which are included in the novel) - is distilled ultimately into a straight-forward report which begins with the basic facts.

'Name: Joel Stabler
Age: Twenty-nine years
Sex: Male
Race: Caucasian
File No: 0049430

Then the report includes the basic background information:

'Summary of Alleged Offense: According to the District Attorney's Office, the subject allegedly shot his brother in the head and then called police. There was no apparent motive, and the Defendant gave no statement to police. It should be noted the brother apparently suffered a lifetime of severe mental illness with frequent hospitalization, suicide attempts, drug and alcohol abuse, self-mutilation, incarceration, and delusions.'

After many more findings of fact, opinions, and observations, the report finishes with the following:

'Summary and Conclusions: The evaluation of the Defendant is complete. In my years as a clinical forensic psychologist, Joel is one of the most complicated and interesting legally sane individuals I have ever examined. My findings indicate the subject has adequate factual knowledge of the courtroom procedure and is competent to stand trial if necessary. My findings also indicate Joel Stabler is a highly intelligent individual who endured remarkably difficult life circumstances and found himself in a psychological moment, inside a complex moral dilemma, resulting in a man taking action he believed necessary, correct, and humane, to protect and free his brother.

The opinions expressed in this report are advisory only. As a clinical forensic psychologist, I recognize and respect that decisions regarding an individual's Competence and Mental State should be made by a judge or jury.

Ellis L. Andrews, PhD, ABPS
Clinical Forensic Psychologist

On the surface, the one question that dominates Blood and Circumstances is the straight-forward question: How did Dr. Andrews reach these conclusions?

However, there are more intriguing questions that remain at the heart-and-soul of Hollon's fascinating fictional experiment in which murder, mystery, and madness are interwoven in a suspense-filled tour de force:

Is Dr. Andrews correct?
Has he correctly plumbed the depths of Joel Stabler's mind?
Or has there been - and is there about to be - a tragic mistake?

Read Blood and Circumstance, the latest from an accomplished and exquisite story-teller, and enjoy another of this author's meticulously written stories in which death and redemption are at the thematic core. Moreover, as you become acquainted with Joel Stabler, be prepared also to confront the problems of nature versus nurture, madness versus sanity, and truth versus deception. I promise that you will not soon forget Hollon's handling of those problems. Do not miss the spell-binding, breath-taking power of Blood and Circumstance.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

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