The former prosecutor in the Queens district attorney's office--who specialized in cases of rape, incest, and child sexual abuse--recounts her most notable cases and exposes a system weighted against victims. 50,000 first printing. $50,000 ad/promo. Tour.
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A former prosecutor's bold, if rather wooden, memoir of fighting sexual predators. It's not irrelevant that Vachss is married to novelist Andrew Vachss, who's an ‚minence grise throughout these pages, giving the author tough advice, leaving her notes of encouragement on their breakfast table. Alice Vachss strongly shares the hatred of sexual criminals that energizes her husband's thrillers--but what she doesn't share is his way with words: She's a monotonic writer, and, for all their inherent drama, the many cases she describes here from her decade spent prosecuting sex crimes in N.Y.C.'s Queens County unfold flatly; moreover, she tells us little of her years before law school, making this more the memoir of a crusade than of a life. Even so, Vachss embeds hard-hitting messages in her case- histories: that ``rape [is] a choice,'' not an irresistible compulsion; that serial sexual offenders don't reform; that too many judges and cops side with the accused in rape trials. Tales of various prosecutions--of a father who'd raped his daughter from her youth until her 30s; of the rapist who claimed Vietnam-induced stress as his defense; of the local civic leader, a Boys Club director, who preyed upon kids he was supposed to help--offer intricate reconstructions of how Vachss built her cases, with some interesting legal lore salted on: the importance, in order to win a case, of having a ``Good Victim'' (i.e., an appealing one); the effect of dress on a jury (in summations, Vachss wore ``black and white...No gray areas. No excuses''). And all this played against a background of infighting among the political hacks of Queens- -infighting that finally got the toe-stepping author fired. Not gripping, but an effective blow in the war against what Vachss calls a ``self-absorbed sociopathic beast'': the rapist. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Library Journal:
Vachss, who is married to crime novelist Andrew Vachss, here describes her experiences as, first, an assistant district attorney, prosecuting primarily sex crimes, then as chief of the Special Victims Bureau in the Queens, N.Y., District Attorney's Office, from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. In a true sense, Vachss was a pioneer. She brought a passion for justice to an area of crime that had historically been seen as the victim's fault. The rights of women and children were just developing; marital rape was not considered a crime; date rape had not been discovered; and sex criminals were routinely treated leniently. Vachss had to work not only to prosecute these criminals but also to change the ingrained attitudes of those she describes as "rape collaborators"--the police, the judiciary, and juries--all of whom were products of a male-dominated culture. After ten years of crossing too many people, she was fired--but not before she successfully helped open society's eyes to these crimes. Her engrossing and insightful book is highly recommended.
- Sandra K. Lindheimer, Middlesex Law Lib., Cambridge, Mass.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Henry Holt, 1994, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 99424312