The Wrong Side
reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
Brittany Crutcher is a local pop star who just signed with a major record label and is on her way. Odell Champagne is a local football star. Theirs is a match made in heaven until she breaks it off the night before she leaves for L.A.
A few hours later, Brittany is found dead on a school bus, killed with a blunt force object. And then there’s Odell, just outside the bus, holding her bloody sweatshirt and the weapon she was killed with: a broken beer bottle.
Bocephalus Haynes is tired. After being acquitted of murder, getting his law license back, defending a controversial case, and renovating a farmhouse to become a live-in center for teens, he no longer has an interest in pursuing crime cases in court. When one of the teens, who he has known all his life, is accused of murder, he decides to go back to the courtroom and prove the teen’s innocence.
The murder seems cut and dry. However, Bo Haynes isn’t convinced Odell murdered Brittany. When the young man asks Bo to represent him, he is hesitant. The entire town of Pulaski is sure Odell is guilty. Bo knows if represents him, his family could be in danger. It’s that much harder to be a black defense attorney defending a black man accused of killing his black girlfriend. Still, Bo decides to defend Odell as the entire small town Alabama community, in outrage, turns against him.
Determined to prove Odell’s innocence, Bo investigates the last hours of Brittany’s life, coming up with many suspects who were angry enough with her to commit murder. As additional information comes forward, he is much closer to finding out who really killed Brittany Crutcher.
The Wrong Side is one of those books that immediately catch your attention. The characters are well-developed and the sense of place is strong enough to make a reader feel like they’re a resident in this small Alabama town. Each person is more interesting than the next. I found myself rooting for Odell, even though it is not clear whether he killed Brittany. This book is not a black vs. white book. This is about justice and false accusations and the bias that results. But most of all, this is about forming opinions before knowing all the facts.
This book is second in the Bocephalus Haynes story. I have not read the first book, though I think it would be helpful. There are characters and cases referred to that you may not have the background on unless you have read his previous book. I will definitely read any further books in the series.