The Final Case: Book summary and reviews of The Final Case by David Guterson

The Final Case

A novel

by David Guterson

The Final Case by David Guterson X
The Final Case by David Guterson
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2022
    272 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

From the award-winning, best-selling author of Snow Falling on Cedars - a moving father-son story that is also a taut courtroom drama and a bold examination of privilege, power, and how to live a meaningful life.

A girl dies one late, rainy night a few feet from the back door of her home. The girl, Abeba, was born in Ethiopia. Her adoptive parents, Delvin and Betsy Harvey—conservative, white fundamentalist Christians—are charged with her murder.

Royal, a Seattle criminal attorney in the last days of his long career, takes Betsy Harvey's case. An octogenarian without a driver's license, he leans on his son—the novel's narrator—as he prepares for trial.

So begins The Final Case, a bracing, astute, and deeply affecting examination of justice and injustice—and familial love. David Guterson's first courtroom drama since Snow Falling on Cedars, it is his most compelling and heartfelt novel to date.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[An] outstanding literary thriller...Equal parts philosophical, humane, and self-deprecating, it powerfully speaks to the ineffable contradiction of living a meaningful life. Guterson sensitively explores religion, white privilege, and justice while examining with realism and empathy the bond between parents and their children. With its simple message of hope, this novel will linger with readers long after the final page." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A bestselling author explores art, justice, and grief as he questions what makes a story true...The author subverts expectations over and over again...a gentle acknowledgement of our collective precarity. Needfully discomfiting." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"With empathy as deep as Puget Sound and his usual graceful prose, Guterson does a masterful job of showing a father facing his last big challenge in life and the son whose love of him is much more than filial duty. The Final Case is alive with all the contradictions of our moment, but more than that, it's alive with wisdom that this novelist has earned." - Timothy Egan, author of National Book Award winner The Worst Hard Time

"David Guterson's appropriately nameless main character in The Final Case is a fiction writer at the vortex of a life he can no longer see as linear, heroic, or containable by his old architectures. In this 'final case,' all of history is on trial, and his character finds himself a witness in the still and silent eye of disturbances now cyclonic in force and scope. Guterson is at his best here when capturing the wildly various judgments of our moment. His ranters run the gamut, from fundamentalist conspiracy theorists to socialist decolonialists; he captures with equal accuracy the painful double-bind of being a young white liberal male, and the pathos of mortal decline. At the heart of the story lies the moral complexity of what constitutes salvation. Guterson's characters, powerless to deter, correct, or forgive one another, can only denounce and punish. But his witness, the writer, makes no easy sense of the crimes he encounters, and is capable of only the most tenuous conclusions. Nothing could be more humane, or timely." - Karen Fisher, author of A Sudden Country

"I read The Final Case in a single sitting, spellbound by David Guterson's exploration of a tragic death caused by the kind of religious fanaticism that has long plagued our human species. Yet he balances this horrifying perversion of spirituality with the portrait of a lawyer, nearing death, who in the true meaning of heroism, knows that his daily devotion to the rule of law, reason, and civilized values is all that we have—as problematic as these principles can be—to hold back the irrational, ever-present darkness in the human soul. Long after you have finished reading this life-affirming novel, the timeless issues it raises will linger in your mind." - Charles Johnson, author of National Book Award winner Middle Passage

This information about The Final Case shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

David Guterson Author Biography

Photo: Alan Berner

David Guterson is the author of several novels: the national best seller Snow Falling on Cedars; East of the Mountains; Our Lady of the Forest, a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year; The Other; and Ed King. He is also the author of two story collections, two books of poetry, a memoir, and the work of nonfiction Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he lives in Washington state.

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