THE BODY IN QUESTION

Book Cover

Two sequestered jurors on a tabloidworthy Florida murder trial
tumble into an impassioned, illicit affair in this engaging, empathetic novel.

In a jury holding room, waiting to be called into the courtroom
for a voir dire, two prospective jurors, identified for most of the book only
as C-2 and F-17, begin a flirtation that rapidly grows into a full-blown love
affair. C-2 is a 52-year-old female photographer of some renown. Having shot
portraits for magazines like Rolling Stone and Interview early
in her career, she eventually concluded she was interested in people not as
individuals but as a species, and she turned her lens to other subjects, such
as war and animals. C-2 is married to a much older man, a Pulitzer Prize–winning
journalist who is now 85. Their once-ardent relationship has evolved, and she
is increasingly aware of the toll time is taking on their lives and bodies.
Now, intensely attracted to F-17, a professor of anatomy in his early 40s with
a pitted complexion, piercing blue eyes, and “beautiful feet,” C-2 finds
herself hoping for “one last dalliance before she gets too old.” As the affair
plays out against a backdrop of a gruesome, sad, and unsettling murder trial (a
teenage girl stands accused of killing her toddler brother, but is the real
culprit her twin sister?) and the shabby Econo Lodge accommodations and
unappetizing luncheonette meals the court has arranged for the jurors during
their sequestration, C-2, as both a lover and a juror, must weigh issues of
guilt and innocence, loyalty and betrayal, life and death, passion and
compassion. Ciment (Act of God, 2015,
etc.) lays out the plot—part love story, part whodunit, part coming-of-old-age
tale—with gentle sensitivity and straightforward intelligence, approaching
complex emotions and conflicting loyalties as might a good juror: observing her
characters’ behavior with an open mind and heart, an ability to consider
context and varied perspectives, an appreciation for the evidence, and a
notable lack of judgment.

This honest, mature look at life and love adds to a growing body
of evidence leading to a decisive verdict: Ciment is an author well worth
reading.

kirkusreviews.com

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