Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Trial of Prisoner 043

by Terry Jastrow
Four Springs Press     2017
256 pages     Fiction
The Shortlist

The Trial of Prisoner 043 fits into the literary genre of alternative history. Jastrow lays out a scenario in which President George W. Bush (43) is prosecuted for war crimes at the United Nation's International Criminal Court more than a decade after the war ostensibly ended. Here is a synopsis of the book from the publisher. By the way, I received the advanced reader's copy from the publicist.

On a glorious autumn morning in St. Andrews, Scotland, former US president George W. Bush approached the first tee of the world-famous Old Course to play a round of golf he would not finish. Unceremoniously abducted off the course by a team of paramilitary commandos, he was transported to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to stand trial for war crimes in connection with the Iraq War. The ICC had spent one year accumulating sufficient evidence to indict George W. Bush as the single person most responsible for the war. Would he be found innocent or guilty, or would something happen to disrupt the pursuit of justice?

Frankly, I struggled through The Trial of Prisoner 043. It starts promisingly with the abduction of Bush off the golf course, ala Tom Clancy, but then it becomes a legal procedural building the case for Bush's war crimes. The trial is played out moment by moment, with both the prosecution and defense calling all the players in the events of the Iraq War, including Condoleeza Rice and General Tommy Franks. I found it all quite tedious, albeit a fascinating topic. Jastrow has scrupulously researched his subject, and he has extensive references at the back of the book. There are many who will find this a fascinating look at what might have—or should have—been. 

Those who will most appreciate The Trial of Prisoner 043 will be of two types: political partisans who believe that justice was not done in the Iraq War and those who enjoy legal procedurals. Many who read the advanced reader's copy of the book felt that the ending was poorly executed. I felt, on the other hand, that the author had boxed himself in with few other choices. You will need to make that decision for yourself.

The book comes out next Tuesday, August 1. Here is the video trailer. Terry Jastrow is a screenwriter, playwright, and producer/director. This is his first novel.

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