P is for Primal Fear

Archbishop Richard Rushman, ‘the saint of Lakeview Drive’ is found murdered and the police don’t have to search far for his killer because he is found cowering in the confessional, covered in blood, and holding a knife in his hand. The case seems open and shut and the mob wants the killer, Aaron Stampler, strung from the nearest tree. Attorney Martin Vail is asked to defend the accused because everybody wants to see Vail lose for the first time in his career and eat humble pie. It seems like a hopeless case and the angelic looking Aaron- who professes to be innocent and has no idea of how he came to be covered with blood or holding the murder-weapon in his hand – is set for the electric chair when the defence psychiatrist makes a startling discovery: Aaron is a schizophrenic and his Dr. Jekyll side does not remember what he does as Mr. Hyde.

Meanwhile, investigations also reveal certain unsavoury  proclivities of the saint. Now, with something to go on, Vail puts up a brilliant defence strategy in place but realises that at times winning is a self-defeating exercise.

I first heard of the book when I saw a Hindi movie called Deewangee, loosely based on this book, in 2002.

 Creditable acting by Akashay Khanna and Ajay Devgan made me want to read the book and finally I got it from a cousin and read it. I knew about the twist yet the book had me hooked.

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Entry for letter P in the Crime Fiction Alphabet meme.

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