Beyond All Reasonable Doubt is an unusual legal thriller as it does not spend time in a courtroom. This is about a legal appeal of what appears to be a miscarriage of justice. The lawyer Sophia Weber is asked to take on an unappealing clent, the infamous Stig Ahlin who was convicted of murdering a fifteen-year-old girl back in 1998. His crime was made even more infamous by the allegations he sexually abused his four-year-old daughter Ida.
We go back and forth, from Sophia’s decision and preparation of the appeal to the murder and investigation in the past. In the past, we see a perfect example of tunnel vision, when a detective and prosecutor come to a conclusion and set about proving it rather than seeking the facts and finding an explanation. Sophia’s job is to review their work and find errors that could advance an appeal.
Stig Ahlin is not an appealing person. Even if he were innocent of everything he is suspected of, he was still an adult professional having an affair with a teenager and someone who frequented prostitutes for some rough sex. That is the best he can be. At the worst, he is an incestuous child rapist and murderer. Still, it does seem as though he may have been convicted of murder based more on the uncharged allegations of molesting his daughter.
Beyond All Reasonable Doubt will make some readers angry because it refuses to settle for easy answers or even tie up loose ends. There are still unanswered questions and I think that is what makes it a better book. This is not so much about telling a story but interrogating some of the trends in modern society, including the effect of the media on justice and the way the internet has made harassment so easy, especially the harassment of women. Sophia is condemned even by friends and colleagues for helping the infamous Professor Death, but is it justice to wrongly convict someone for what he did not do because you cannot convict him for what you think he did do?
Sophia’s story is very cerebral, research and reading old records, interviewing a few witnesses, writing an appeal, and trying to live her life while fretting about what people think. The past investigation is more traditional story-telling, following the procedural steps and invedtigative decisions. There is also Stig, whose life in prison is revealed as well. There are a few twists to the story, big twists that leave even more questions in their wake.
Beyond All Reasonable Doubt will be released June 4th. I received a e-galley from the publisher through Edelweiss