The Death of Old Man Rice: A True Story of Criminal Justice in America

Martin L. Friedland

The death of Texas multimillionaire William Rice (founder of Rice University) in 1900 was the starting point for one of the strangest murder cases in U.S. history. Albert Patrick, a young lawyer, was quickly arrested for the crime. He had been running all over town cashing checks forged on Rice’s account, and had almost undoubtedly forged the will bequeathing the bulk of the Rice estate to him. He was convicted and sentenced to death after a lengthy, controversial trial.
But that was not the end. Over the years, the lingering doubts about the case grew. Patrick’s sentence was first commuted to life imprisonment. And then, several years later, he received a full pardon. Friedland, a University of Toronto law professor, is primarily interested in examining the proceedings as a case study of American justice, so there’s plenty of transcripts and analysis of the legal maneuvers. But for all the footnotes the writing isn’t turgid, and Friedland holds off on his revisionist tack (he thinks Patrick was guilty of no worse than forgery) to the end. JM

Publisher: University of Toronto
Hardback: 423 pages

The Osiris Complex: Case Studies in Multiple-Personality Disorder

Colin A. Ross, M.D.

The author's agenda, and his passion, speak loud and clear: MPD does exist, can usually be treated, and is often misdiagnosed (as schizophrenia, borderline-personality disorder, etc.), with tragic results. He insists that his profession needs to look beyond its current biomedical bias and start seeing the very strong relationship between trauma, especially sexual abuse, and mental illness.
While Ross concentrates on the societal and clinical implications of this disorder, the reader cannot help but ponder the compelling and disturbing questions raised about the nature of personality itself. In many cases, the division of an MPD patient's conflicting impulses into separate personalities seems like a literalization of the neurotic tendencies shared by most people: for instance, in the case of a young female, one personality gains 80 pounds so that another, a prostitute, will go into hiding and keep out of trouble.
There is a persistent drumbeat throughout the book criticizing mainstream psychology and psychiatry for banishing the paranormal (demons, ESP, spirit possession) from their domain. (Indeed, the author's seeming eagerness to discover that such characters as “the Evil One” are the exterior beings his patients claim they are would severely damage his credibility if Ross weren’t so scientific, reasonable, and sensitive in his approach to these subjects.) The paranormal entities he meets in his office always turn out, however, to be expressions of the patients' dissociated personalities. MH

Publisher: University of Toronto
Paperback: 296 pages

King Death: The Black Death and Its Aftermath in Late-Medieval England

Colin Platt

“The Black Death came to England in 1348, and for over three centuries bubonic plague remained a continual and threatening presence in the everyday life (and death) of the country… Examines what it was like to live with the plague at all levels of society,” from village priest to abbot, from laborer to nobleman. Whole towns were wiped out, churches half built, never finished. The Dance of Death eventually joined the Gospel in stained-glass displays, and merchants were buried under memorial cadavers carved in stone, calling for friends’ compassion in mourning their hideous death. Everywhere it was a culture invaded by shrouds, skulls and the stench of death, until the industry of death itself became a “potent instrument of change.” GR

Publisher: University of Toronto
Paperback: 262 pages

Gigolos and Madames Bountiful: Illusions of Gender, Power and Intimacy

Adie Nelson and Barrie W. Robinson

Get inside the heads of women who pay for cock, and the men who sell it to them. Written with a light touch, but seriously considers the social, economic and emotional issues involved in sexual contracts where women hold the balance of power. MG

Publisher: University of Toronto
Paperback: 344 pages

Everybody Does It!: Crime by the Public

Thomas Gabor

“Toward a theory of universal lawbreaking.” Statistics, research and case studies of our public peccadilloes, from the petty to the profound. Theft, embezzlement, false charges, violence. Fellow employees do it: “It was acceptable, so you did it. When you see that other people do it, it seems to be no big deal.” Business people do it: “When you see a lot of money coming in, you get greedy.” Tourists do it: “Justifying their behavior on the high cost of the room.” Cops do it: “Some guys need a beating. In the street or the back of a precinct, there’s a guy who needs a beating. And you’ve got to do it. “ Says the author: “In this book I try to show that criminal behavior, rather than being abnormal and uncommon, is a normal and routine part of everyday life, engaged in (at least on occasion) by the majority of citizens.” GR

Publisher: University of Toronto
Paperback: 240 pages