Blind Spots by Patrick Garry

Blind Spots

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Blind Spots by Patrick Garry is a highly entertaining and engrossing crime and courtroom drama that presents what happens from various perspectives, filling in at least a few of the “blind spots” that are often not seen nor considered by the legal system. While ostensibly the novel is primarily about the story of rent collector Milo Krantz, who works for a slumlord, the novel is also about the ethical and moral decisions that each of the other main characters face as they seek to find answers and bring Krantz to justice.

Blind Spots opens with Detective Gunther Mulvaney at his house, “absorbed in the morning newspaper.” His wife, Jessie, likes to be told about his cases, as she considers herself to be a crime buff who keeps voluminous notebooks in which she writes er theories about the cases Gunther is investigating.”

Gunther is preoccupied with his own thoughts, as he looks back on a case that was just recently closed, but which began three years ago. He had not told his wife about this particular case, thinking to himself that he had sworn to be quiet about it. But, he feels a sense of guilt, which he considers to be “a handicap.” As the author puts it, expressing Gunther’s thoughts, “The guilt- ridden ones never get promoted.”

The first chapter of Blind Spots then begins to get into the case that has haunted Gunther for the past three years, He had gotten a call about investigating a murder of a mother and her three children who “had been shot to death in an upstairs duplex in the Camden area – an area known for its drug trade, dilapidated housing, and gang warfare.”

The person who had shot and killed the entire family was quickly identified. He was a boy of 12, who got the gun from somewhere, but he apparently did not want to say from where or tell the police who had given it to him. The police had been given orders to find out who had given the boy the gun, and to come down hard on that person.

The case becomes a high-profile one, with the captain of the police force being pressured by the District Attorney to located the source the gun had come from. The captain wanted pressure put on the people of the Camden area, on the theory that if enough pressure is applied, “someone was bound to eventually squeal.”

Gunther fairly quickly arrests a suspect who seems to fit the possible sort of person that the police are looking for. The man is milo Krantz, and he collects rent for a slumlord, Howard Towley. He has also been found in the possession of illegal guns and has a history of committing small crimes and harassing tenants for rent money, sometimes even threatening them.

At first, Krantz talks with Gunther and makes a somewhat convincing argument that he is being made the “fall guy.” As Gunther investigates further, witnesses by the gross can be found who corroborate that Krantz is not a pleasant person, that he had threatened several people, and that there have been stories that he has dealt in weapons.

But, there are others who give Gunther reason to pause and doubt, like a girl he sees when he goes to investigate the place where Krantz lives, with her pet dog. Krantz has, according to the girl, let the dog live at his place, taking care of him. He has also let the girl and her family live secretly, rent-free, in an apartment at one of Towley’s buildings. Gunther begins to see another side to Krantz, and to realize that he is not, perhaps, as mena-spirited and evil as he had once thought.

The second chapter of Blind Spots introduces another main character, Judge Donna Davis, who was usually considered to be a liberal judge, but in the case of Krantz, she had set his bail high for some reason, at $200,000. In other chapters of Blind spots, much more of Davis’ life gets revealed, and the reasons behind why she feels like she has to deal with Krantz’s case harshly, to make an example of him.

Krantz goes from telling Gunther that he is being made a “scapegoat” and talking about the “gestapo tactics” of the police to saying he would represent himself in court. He was silent when he was in front of Judge Davis, not even telling her if he was not guilty. Later, Krantz, for reasons of his own, admits to everything.

The lives of Gunther Mulvaney, Milo Krantz, and Donna Davis get inextricably tied together, with the legal system demanding a speedy resolution to the case and bringing to justice the person who supplied the boy with the gun, one way or another. Mulvaney had been proud that he had never sent an innocent person to jail before, but with Krantz, he begins to have doubts and develops a powerful feeling of guilt that things are not what they might look like on the surface.

Krantz might very well be a hated person in his own community, and guilty of threatening people to collect rent money; but, Mulvaney comes to realize, he might not be guilty of providing the gun to the boy. Judge Davis, on her part, strives to be fair and honest in her rulings, but she is married to a power-hungry politician who has an influence over the case.

Though Blind Spots is relatively short, at 237 pages, it packs an emotional punch. It is a powerful story about how America’s justice system, in its rush to find whoever is guilty of having committed certain crimes, sometimes grinds into its gears innocent people, while the truly guilty ones go free. Blind Spots is a spellbinding novel that people who love to read mysteries, thrillers, and crime dramas will love and want to add to their personal libraries.

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