"Judge Akers watched the teenage girl enter his courtroom. She had agreed to testify against a fourteen year old schoolmate for theft and murder"
Using actual cases as inspiration, author of The Judges Story, Joyce T.Strand, writes characters around real people. The judge in this story, Judge Akers, is one of those type of judges that we need now, honest, fair, and looking out for children.The story takes place in the 1930's California. Judge Akers had been a practicing lawyer before becoming a judge. He is widowed and is very involved in a boys club, loves cars and listening to music.
Clara, a teenaged schoolgirl with a passion for writing, testifies in a trial of a 14 year old boy accused of murder in the robbery of a store where the store owner, Mr.Brant was killed, even though he never pulled the trigger but is still culpable in his involvement. Mr.Brant left behind a wife and children who will now be struggling just to survive. Clara becomes Oscars advocate as she learns more about him and his circumstances.
Oscar Briarly is the boy on trial. Oscar's mother is a drunk, his older brother Tommy is in prison, the father is really a piece of work and the younger brother Frankie has diminished mental capabilities. Oscar has a thirst for knowledge that is remarkable coming from the background he does.
Judge Akers enlists the aid of Clara to try to talk to Oscar in jail to find out who the actual shooter was in the death of Mr.Brant. Once Clara finds out that Oscar would love to read, she starts teaching him while getting to know him and to see if he will tell her who did the shooting. Oscar "is no snitch" so the information that the police and judge want is not going to happen unless Clara can use her persuasive skills to get the information needed.
At the same time there is a string of robberies going on being done by young school boys. These boys are working for someone and it is up to the police to find out who is the ringleader. Judge Akers, Clara and an investigator, Jim, work together to get the culprits. So in an unusual precedence, Judge Akers delays the sentencing of Oscar as long as he can while the investigation goes on.
I was impressed with this story and the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck came to mind probably because of the era, people not able to find work or unable to take care of their families so the young boys are forced to get work where they can and it is usually illegal activities. I found the characters to be engaging, especially Clara and even Oscar. Clara, a young lady who has a passion and skill for writing and Oscar and his thirst for knowledge. In my minds eye, in a continuation of the story, I can see these two becoming great friends, of course after whatever punishment that Oscar may receive due to his part in the robbery and murder.
I enjoyed the author's style of writing, short chapters, enough information about the story and without being boring or having long drawn out characterizations. This is the first book I have read by Joyce Strand events to weave a story that should appeal to everyone.