review by Rachel EC
James A. Ardaiz was a young district attorney in Fresno County at the time of the crimes of Clarence Ray Allen and his violent gang. It is a detailed story of a string of interconnected crimes that started in 1974 and documented the police work and court cases and up until the state’s retribution chapter in 2006. As the case went on and Ardaiz’s career progressed he continued to grieve for the victims both deceased and left behind by the murders committed by Allen and his crew.
I found the background story of the crimes that occurred dull in comparison to other current crimes but continued on and finished the book feeling satisfied that it told a story worth reading. The descriptive scenery of Fresno County in the early 80s and the historical timing of the story often made it feel fictional but was turned around by the strong use of police and forensic descriptions.
Ardaiz’s writing about police work and interview tactics was in depth and he often compared police tactics to well known TV fallacies. He also ensured that the reader understood the positions and personalities of all the different law enforcement staff. I found the police content of the book fascinating and an interesting part of the way that the story was told. The dates of the crimes meant that very little ‘CSI’ technology was used and the story is based almost solely on classic police techniques. I found the overuse of law enforcement nicknames of detectives confusing at times but the second half of the book was interesting enough to keep me reading.
The final chapter ‘The time of retribution’ surprised me. It was really interesting and thought provoking and it put a different perspective on the death penalty for me. In my opinion well worth reading the book just to read the last few chapters of Ardaiz attending the execution of someone he had prosecuted was unexpected and had me thinking about the book long after I had finished it.
Hands Through Stone is published by QuillDriverBooks.com and can be ordered here.