Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Legal Thriller/True Crime
Approximate word count: 100-105,000 words
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A retired criminal lawyer, Barry J. Freeman lives with his wife and a menagerie of pets in the suburbs of Chicago.
“Back in 1970, during the Vietnam War, Ray Auler brings four female exotic dancers from Chicago to live in a Saigon villa and perform for GIs in an adjacent nightclub called The Office. And Other Immoral Purposes begins as the four ladies walk out of the villa and head for the American Embassy. There they tell sordid tales of imprisonment and forced prostitution that ultimately lead to the Chicago indictment and prosecution of Ray and his friend, Craig Poulter, for violations of the Mann Act: transporting and imprisoning the four women ‘for prostitution, debauchery and other immoral purposes.’ In fact, the book’s author, Barry Freeman, becomes Auler’s Chicago defense attorney.
And Other Immoral Purposes is based on fact and tells two interwoven stories: first of Ray and Craig and their experiences as Milwaukee theatrical agents—representing entertainers on Wisconsin’s strip club circuit in a dark world of sex and show business—through their event-filled days with the four ladies in Saigon; and, second, of the ensuing legal battle between government and defense, culminating in a colorful Chicago trial and its bizarre conclusion on appeal.”
The first stumbling block with And Other Immoral Purposes is one of classification. Just what kind of book is it? The author puts up at least the mild pretense that it is a novel (it even says “a novel” on the title page) and Amazon has it classified as a legal thriller. Both of these terms imply that what you’re reading is fictional. While there may be parts of the story the author can’t prove, possibly filling in gaps or dialogue with best guesses that are at least consistent with the truth as well as he can determine, the book as a whole is true. The other possibility is true crime. The problem there is this non-fiction genre is typically one that follows law enforcement and prosecutors as they attempt to identify the perpetrator of a crime and/or convict the criminal in court. This book doesn’t fit that pattern in several ways, the most obvious being that it is told from the standpoint of the defense with the reader’s loyalty being naturally pushed towards an acquittal rather than a conviction.
Yet it fits either one in some ways. The quest for acquittal is typical of the legal thriller with the author as the obvious equivalent of a fictional protagonist, fighting the good fight for the innocent. However, it isn’t plotted like a novel, reading much more like true crime with the story being driven by actual facts rather than what makes for the best plot. (Not to mention more detail in some areas than would make sense in a novel that an author would be remiss not to include in a true crime book.)
With that long discussion it should be apparent that this is most likely to appeal to a particular kind of reader who I’ll describe as someone who likes both genres, the legal thriller due to the fight for justice, and true crime for the color from putting you in a specific time and place along with the glimpses it provides into how the criminal justice system actually works. It might also provoke some thoughts on other legal and political issues.
Some adult language and situations.
Some proofing and copyediting misses, enough to push right up to the point where I’d normally consider knocking off a star or two, but just barely missed going over that line. The majority of the issues were homonym errors. One, which is common among lawyers and bankers turned authors is confusing the words waive and wave. As I like to joke (yes, I can be corny), it is only possible to waive your hands once.
Rating: **** Four Stars