This is a legal drama based on a trial that took place in early 60s America: when Casper Bennett was accused of murdering his wife by drowning her in a bath full of scalding water, Miraldi’s own father represented him in court. Miraldi has pieced together the story from an archive of documents bequeathed to him by his father, and he creates a convincing and tense drama out of that material. The characterisation is very strong, and he manages to make some fairly complex and detailed legal material accessible and interesting. It becomes something of a page turner, and builds to a gripping climax. There is much to think about here, beyond the immediate interest of the trial. The judges have debated its status as fiction or non-fiction, a dilemma considered by the author himself. He concludes that because he is not quoting directly from most of the characters it must be fiction. We disagree and feel that even with non-fiction there is room for imagination. The facts presented at the end of the book pull such a punch that they have to be considered as part of the book itself.
There is a force of intellect behind it too, which is appealing – it offers an insight into the jury system, and reveals how much of it depends on presentation, persuasion, and spin, regardless of how the legal world strives to privilege objectivity and fact. Miraldi, who is himself an attorney, tells it with an insider’s understanding of that world, and he seems to be a natural storyteller. It also gives an appealing view of America at a certain point in history: the sense of community; the significant contribution of immigration; the inevitable demise of that world when confronted with technology, a loss of innocence and cynicism. It’s a very impressive book.Rubery Award Judges
A debut historical novel re-creates a sensational 1964 murder trial in Lorain, Ohio. . . . . [T]his is an engrossing tale. . . . . A chilling view of the vagaries of the justice system, with a final surprise.Kirkus Reviews
David Miradl’s hybrid of historical fiction and true crime recounts a sensational trial in which his father played a leading role.. . . [The book] is a work of compelling immediacy. Miraldi avoids the melodramatic, judgmental prose that can pervade lesser true crime works. Instead, he relies on careful pacing and his deep research into the case to win readers’ interest. Without manufactured thrills, Miraldi crafts an engaging and suspenseful narrative.The Edge of Innocence is both a gripping courtroom drama and a glimpse at a time past. It should appeal to fans of cerebral, up-market crime writing.BlueInk Review
Kept me reading right through the day and evening. Very down to earth characters, who were definitely taken from living people. I love legal books and read many. The ending was a surprise to me. Definitely recommend this one.Peggy Reader
I love to read an author who hits is out of the park with the first book and makes you look forward to their next. From the first pages, I was impressed with this author’s use of descriptive language and imagery, as well as his ability to keep this crime story/ legal thriller interesting and suspenseful.Marie T.
What a treat to read this great book from David Miraldi!! It’s a real-life crime drama, written in a style that is compelling and thrilling to the very end. From the opening paragraph to the final pages, I found it hard to put this book down, and even then, to put it out of my mind between reads. Can’t wait for David’s next book … My guess is it’s sure to be another winner.Mara Donohue
Once you start reading David P. Miraldi’s The Edge of Innocence: The Trial of Casper Bennett, you can’t stop! Inspired by true events, the author’s tale of his father’s role in the Casper Bennett murder trial is replete with legal drama and questions of moral character. It’s a perfect novel for a wintry evening.Deborah Slavik
This is a riveting true story that is well written and engages you from the first page to the last. The story involves a series of twists and turns and paints an authentic picture of a murder trial in a steel town in Ohio in the early 60’s. I would recommend it highly as the reader will not be able to put it down.Martha Piper
“The Edge of Innocence” kept me on the edge of my seat! A true trial brought masterfully back to life decades later. I was transported to a courthouse of yesteryear and much like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I was left in awe. Highly recommended read.“Stark Rocker”
Lively dialogue and character development make this a fast-paced read. The author maintains the suspense by gradually revealing the “facts” in this real-life murder trial while casting an interesting light on the workings of the US justice system. Of equal interest are his observations of a bygone generation, lawyers and law enforcement officers born in America to immigrant parents and passionate about their work. Many went straight from high school to service in World War II and then worked in the steel mill to afford an education, earning professional status by dint of hard work and relentless pursuit of their goals. I will be first in line to buy Miraldi’s next book.Amazon Customer Review
The Edge of Innocence is a remarkable achievement. It holds the reader’s attention from the first page to the last-and stages a surprise twist at the end. An explanation of the law is intertwined in the story, but in a way that informs but does not dominate the narrative. The book is also a testament to filial love and pride.Stephen Vogel
If you love mysteries, courtroom dramas and police investigations, this is The book for you. Not only is it a true case, but the author brought back the protagonists to life with vivid descriptions and dialogues. And it is so interesting to see how the criminal justice system operated in the 60’s. It is an extra pleasure for Ohioans who would recognize the landmarks and names.Mayya Traboulsi
I know I’m reading a great book when I can’t wait to get back to it. This is one of those – an absolute page-turner!Chip Freeman
If you like a well written legal thriller, this is the book for you. It is honest with a behind the scenes look into the thinking of the criminal legal process. You feel the lawyer’s pressure of a man’s life on the line. You feel the pressure the prosecutor brings when he believes a man needs to be brought to justice. You learn about how and why key pieces of information are never shared with the judge/jury. The twist at the end…left me thinking! I simply loved it!Nancy Terrill
A fabulous book that just couldn’t be put down. Most interesting that this trial was held so quickly after the murder; in today’s world it may have been a year or so before a trial would have been scheduled. Especially intriguing for those of us from Lorain, Oh and having known most of the places and people involved. David, I hope you are soon working on your next book.Marsha Doane Funk
The book is well written and is based on actual documentation and court records. It includes interesting dialogue that the author has added to make the story more realistic and personal. I enjoyed the courtroom exchanges and the drama that resulted from the story line and sequence of events while trying to see through the alibis of Casper Bennett. The buildup at the end provides a great ending for a mystery novel.Larry Bowersox
This is a very enjoyable and informative book. I love the concept that the author told the story of his father’s unusual criminal trial. You can feel the love and respect for his father come up from the pages. I also found this as a very compelling story in the mold of Patterson or Connely. as a former Ohioan, I thought he did a great job of invoking the sights and sounds of my former (and still, I guess) home. Great read. Thanks.Robert Gilker
If you enjoy reading novels about courtroom drama in the criminal arena, this book is a must read! David Miraldi, a prominent civil trial attorney in Lorain County, Ohio, has done an exceptional job researching a murder trial that took place in the City of Lorain in the mid 1960’s. The author’s father, Ray Miraldi, and his co-counsel, Lon Adams, represented Casper Bennett, a tavern owner accused of murdering his wife in their house by drowning her in a bathtub filled with scalding water.
The book is a fast read, peppered with adultery, evidence by ambush, and unusual expert medical testimony.
I highly recommend this book, whether you are a member of the legal community, or a lay person.Michael D. Tully
This courtroom drama bristles with all the intensity of a tennis match as the two sides in a murder trial fight to score points and win each game, set, and, ultimately, the match. David Miraldi’s historical novel, based on a case in which his father defended an adulterous tavern owner accused of drowning his alcoholic wife in a bathtub, pulls the reader in immediately with its realistic dialogue and fully drawn characters. The reader is carried back to a cultural moment in the early 1960s when Middle America was an ideological battleground pitting the forces of law and order against a society whose institutions’ moral authority seemed to be crumbling. Defense attorney Ray Miraldi emerges as an aggressive defender of truth and justice who is not above playing outside the lines if it helps him win a case. David Miraldi draws on all his courtroom experience to make the fine points of criminal law add to the drama and drive the story along. The narrative tension never lets up, and the denouement holds many surprises for the reader.James Breiner
As a fellow attorney I found this book to accurately portray the tension drama and anxiety of the courtroom. The outcome remained uncertain and there was a genuine twist at the end. I knew Ray Miraldi growing up and his son portrayed him as the fine man and highly regarded trial attorney that he was. I was initially captivated by the book because I knew the participants but as I read on it was the story that held my attention. A job well done. I hope the author writes another book . Perhaps the Gotsis case referenced in this book could be his next challenge.Robert Gary
Wow . . . my mother bought this book and then told me that I absolutely needed to read it. She made me promise that I wouldn’t look at the end first (even though I never do!) because she said I needed to fully appreciate the surprise when it happened. And, she was right. This book is incredibly well written with a smooth, even pace. The personalities of key people in the book are fully fleshed out and aspects of law are explained clearly in a conversational tone. And, yes. I was surprised at the end — twice. I recommend this book wholeheartedly. The only other comment I’d make is that, early on, the author calls this historical fiction when in fact he takes a creative writing approach to fill in information that couldn’t be found through research. It is much further along on the nonfiction side of the writing spectrum than the term “historical novel” would suggest.Kelly Sagert
Enjoyable read about the case of Casper Bennett, accused of drowning his wife in 1963. The author’s father was part of the defense team. His notes, along with police files and first person interviews combine for a fascinating read. The emotional highs and lows of the trial along with the back and forth between the legal teams provide a real peak into the workings of a trial. Taking place before Miranda, the legal system of the period is much different than it is now. Great read!Jay Ferguson
Have just finished this absorbing, interesting, entertaining composition. As an individual who grew up in the city of Lorain, I was familiar with the majority of the individuals and landmarks noted. And was astounded by the writer’s ability to chronicle the events of the trial in layman’s terms.
Once reading commenced, I was intrigued by the plot as it was presented – from beginning through to the final chapter.
The result – which I was familiar with still is amazing but, prospective readers will have to process themselves through the intrigue of the characters, the “touch points” and one’s own views.
Which is part of the interest the author has created. A MUST READ by anyone!Jerry Amato
Edge of Innocence”, David Miraldi’s debut novel, is as compelling as it is entertaining. He transports the reader back to the adolescent years of the baby boomer era. His setting: Lorain County, Ohio. A place from which he speaks intimately and authoritatively, because it is his home.
Miraldi orchestrates the forces of history, forensic mystery, and courtroom drama with the confidence of a man who knows deeply from where he speaks. He exposes how commonly-flawed individuals, ambitious, subject to prejudice and simple fatigue, interactively process these forces to create a real-life human drama. Drama to which Miraldi’s many future readers will relate.
What the novels of Turow and Grisham demonstrate in clever contrivance, Miraldi delivers thru ironic authenticity. Thoroughly enjoyable: Five Stars!Michael Hillman