This is the story of a mother who has lost her daughter, Mandy Goodman, and a mother whose son, Mark Williams, is accused of murdering Mandy. We see the circumstances of the murder, conviction and execution through the eyes of Alice Goodman and Lori Williams.
I have mixed feelings about this very short book. The death penalty is certainly a controversial topic, with compelling arguments on both sides. Personally, my opinion has always leaned toward being against the death penalty, but I often wondered how I’d feel if my loved one were murdered. Would I be less inclined to forgive?
I was able to guess the direction the story was taking and wasn’t surprised when we learned the truth. Yet, that didn’t change the substance of the book for me.
Both POVs are interesting, provoking and persuasive. Lori Williams’ impact statement was wonderfully written and powerful. It was obvious that the author has given the topic a great deal of thought. When I arrived at the end of the book, I realized that The Last Verdict happens to be part of the author’s anti-death penalty agenda. I didn’t feel cheated or deceived by this. Kudos to Jamie Arpin-Ricci for using his writing skills to fictionalize an important topic.
I would have loved to give this book a five star review, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do so. There were far too many typos, which I found jarringly annoying – particularly when Mark Williams was suddenly referred to as Matt. At just sixty-six pages, the editing should have been much better than it was.
4 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton