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N/A Nature and Civilization in Warren Easley's MATTERS OF DOUBT Barbara Leavy
Abstract 1
Matters of Doubt is the first book in Warren Easley’s Cal Claxton series.  When Cal’s wife commits suicide, Cal blames himself for not seeing earlier symptoms of her distress and quits his job as lead prosecutor in the Los Angeles court system in order to move to a secluded house in the Oregon wine country.  There he hopes to achieve some peace and to find some of it by indulging in his favorite pastime, fly fishing.  But when he is drawn into the investigation of a cold case, he finds instead that his life involves alternating between his country house and the city, Portland.  From the beginning, this mystery novel sets up an opposition between nature and civilization.  And a close reading reveals that this conflict is reflected in many ways in many incidents. The development of these themes, however, does not distract from an intriguing mystery with a cast of very original and interesting characters.
Abstract 2
One significant example of what was said in the first abstract can reveal the complexity of what is actually a very complex subject dealt with lucidly by Easley.  His doubt about the innocence of his client, the son of a woman who had disappeared eight years earlier and whose body had just been discovered, is intrinsic to Cal’s profession.  Criminal law is about doubt, about a defense attorney who tries to instill doubt in a jury so that they must bring in a verdict of not guilty; and prosecutors who try to avoid doubt about the guilt of the accused.  Criminal law, in turn, was historically an advance in civilization when personal revenge as retaliation again a criminal act was replaced by a court system. Matters of Doubt is not a courtroom drama, yet in every other way, justice and doubt thread their thematic ways throughout Easley’s mystery.
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