The Boston police officers who brutally beat Michael Cox at a deserted fence one icy night in 1995 knew right away that they had made a terrible mistake. The badge and handgun under Cox's bloodied parka proved it: He was not a black gang member but a plainclothes officer who had been chasing the same murder suspect they were.
While Cox was being beaten, Officer Kenny Conley chased down and captured the suspect. Afterward, as Cox waited for an apology from his department, federal prosecutors accused Conley of lying when he denied witnessing Cox's beating. Both Cox and Conley grew up in Boston and had dedicated their lives to serving the Boston Police Department, but when they needed its support, they were abandoned.
A remarkable work of investigative journalism, The Fence details the shocking story of the attack, the attempted cover-up by police officers beholden to a "blue wall of silence," and the bitter repercussions on the lives of those involved. It follows Cox's 1998 federal civil rights trial against the Boston Police Department and features a diverse cast of characters, including the victims, their families, the officers accused in the beating, city officials, and the actual murder suspectall set against the rich backdrop of Boston.
Like J. Anthony Lukas's 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning classic Common Ground, The Fence examines Boston's race relations and the unwritten police code of covering up through the intimate lens of those who experienced the crime directly. By coming to know the officers and criminals brought together that night at the fenceand the families whose lives were changed forever as a resultwe sense how deeply the strains of prejudice run in this city still haunted by tribalism and racial tension.
Boston journalist Dick Lehr has written a gritty, captivating true-crime story with unusual deptha chilling exploration of what happens when fear of admitting mistakes combines with a police culture of lying to undermine justice.
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"An intriguing read that provides an admirable, in-depth description of police corruption." - Library Journal
"Starred Review. Jolting, nightmarish and potent, this true cop yarn bests any bogus reality show or overblown tabloid tale with its hard-boiled spin." - Publishers Weekly
"A cautionary tale about the abuse of power and a timely civics lesson on the virtue of standing up to authority." - Kirkus
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Dick Lehr is a professor of journalism at Boston University. From 1985 to 2003, he was a reporter at the Boston Globe, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in investigative reporting and won numerous regional and national journalism awards. Before that, Lehr, who is also an attorney, was a reporter at The Hartford Courant.
Lehr is the author of The Fence: A Police Cover-up Along Boston's Racial Divide, a non-fiction narrative about the worst known case of police brutality in Boston, which was an Edgar Award finalist for best non-fiction. He is coauthor of the New York Times bestseller and Edgar Award winner Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI and a Devil's Deal, and its sequel, Whitey: The Life of America's Most Notorious Mob Boss.
Lehr was a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford ...
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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