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The Case Against Owen Williams

By Allan Donaldson (Nimbus)

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Murder? Check. Murder suspect? Check. Small town with more than a few secrets? Check. Donaldson’s The Case Against Owen Williams has all the pieces to make an interesting murder mystery courtroom drama combination, but falls flat. In 1944, Sarah Coile, from small-town New Brunswick is murdered and the only suspect is the last person to see her: a solider named Owen Williams. The novel starts out at a steady pace. Donaldson is good at reminding his reader of the crime without seeming redundant and is able to reveal small clues here and there without giving away the ending. It isn’t until the case goes to trial the book’s 295 pages begin to feel like 500. The trial tends to drag on unnecessarily and takes away from a well-written climax. Even so, it’s because of these lengthy scenes that the novel becomes more a chore than an engaging read.

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