Mini-series of young adult novels by Ann Brashares
Referendum for Murder
Author: Mickey Polanski
There are many people who consider abortions and doctors who perform them as murderers for taking the life of an unborn child. Some feel no matter what the circumstances the young mother or any prospective mother should find a way to allow this innocent child to be born. Many protest abortion clinics, centers and doctor’s offices that perform these operations on a daily basis. Some hope to save the lives of women that might have other medical issues and not survive if they have a child and others just don’t want children at all. For whatever reason there are many who won’t stay silent like Jim Jones who found his way to take the life of one doctor George Adams and did not hid the fact from the police that he was the one that committed the murder. When the detective on the case sorts out the evidence, looks at the surveillance tape and checks out the killer’s car what he finds enlightens him further as an article left on the seat of the car sends him in the direction of the killer. An article written in the paper stating that Oregon wanted to reinstate the death penalty and Jim Jones was against it.
Barbara Hernandez is a bank teller whose instincts and training kicked in when faced with a hard decision. Standing at her window a woman demanded the money from her drawer, as she now had to deal with a robbery in progress. Following her instructions she placed the money in the bag, fear in her heart but not before carefully setting off the silent alarm to alert the police. But, things got out of hand and the two accomplices took aim and several were killed, two bank robbers taken down and Barbara grabbed the weapon of the woman who demanded her money as the remaining robber was about to take aim and she shot him in the leg and then someone got off another shot to take him down but he was not dead. Before the last shot was fired he managed to kill the officer that was in the bank and had alerted the police that this was going down. The officer was Barbara’s husband. When the reality set in and all the body bags taken out Barbara, who is six months pregnant, needed medical attention for fear she might lose the last link to her husband. Before leaving New Berlin Memorial Hospital she stated to her friend that this man needs the death penalty and should pay for his life killing her husband.
Jim Jones is against the death penalty and Barbara Hernandez was justice. Author Mickey Polansky brings to light this important and controversial issue: Should someone receive the lethal injection or the chair for committing murder and should it be automatic when it’s a police officer? Is abortion really murder and should the doctor have paid with his life? Two issues one thought provoking novel.
Things heat up and the trial takes place and the killer is sentenced to life in prison without parole. But, before the sentencing is completed Barbara approaches him and states her feelings to a cold- blooded killer who shows no remorse. Added into the mix are the feelings of the legislature related to the reinstating the death penalty. But, although they just met it is apparent that Barb and Tom’s relationship will change as she enlists his help to get the referendum passed and a bill created to reinstate the death penalty in Wisconsin. But, there is much more before all is decided as they speak in front of the assembly and some feathers are ruffled and others refuse to commit but Tom and Barbara are relentless and will not give up. Through the use of a narrator the author explains the trial procedures, the events every step of the way and the emotional upheaval both characters face as they flashback to their pasts and Tom tells Barb about his losses too. Two people both losing a spouse and a child seem to have an instant connection and much more. The relationship moves quite fast and the result is a commitment but first they need to get that bill passed and the death penalty reinstated. Will they succeed still remains to be seen? What will the cost are if they do not? Let’s not forget that Jim Jones is still out there and has just killed a doctor and was released from prison to torching an abortion clinic. Let’s not forget he is against the death penalty and is pro life. Which way will this go and how will he blend into the end result?
There are many politicians as the Governor in this novel whose beliefs might agree with Tom and Barb but whose actions speak lower than words and will not stand by their thoughts or convictions hoping someone else will take the reins to get things done and in this case the bill passed so that he won’t have to do it. This is a tough issue and many different viewpoints will be brought to light and many difficult decisions made as one woman takes on the legislature and the lawmakers to avenge her husband’s death and to make sure that others do not go through the same thing. What is he is granted freedom on appeal? What if he escapes? What is his real punishment if his recourse is life in prison and he is allowed to live? Hard question which way would you go? This reviewer will only state the facts in the case the events that occur but not my opinion other than on the plot, the characters and the events that take place leading up to the dramatic ending that will definitely give up much more than pause for thought.
As more information comes to light and Tom and Barb decide on the next step is to create an advisory referendum and hopefully get it passed before a bill can be composed and put on the ballot for voters. The purpose of the bill would be how to sentence those criminals that commit intention murder on their victims. To fully understand its main points and how the bill would be created read pages 102-103 and learn more as the author did extensive research before publishing this book on the death penalty and the laws in Wisconsin. When Tom has all the facts in place and presents his thoughts to the assembly what happens next might make others think twice before doing the same thing as driving away from the Capitol building he is tailgated and stalked by a man named Jessie Smith who threatens him if he does not rescind what he is doing. Added to the mix is his threatening phone call to Barb which really shook up and puts in a motion a plan that uncovers who is behind this man and just why. With the aide of some of his constituents Mark creates the bill but one member is really out to destroy him and what he hopes to do. Why you have to learn for yourself.
The author goes through the steps that are involved when the assembly needs to take action against one of its members and the process for continuing their quest for justice. However, along the way information leaks out about Tom’s relationship with Barb and his assistant Linda seems the perfect person to do damage control. But, let’s not forget that somehow Jim Jones will definitely come back into the picture before all is said and done.
Then, the stalker is let out of jail on a technicality and then Barbara finds herself in a serious situation when faced with the man in her home. Using her late husband’s gun she aims, shots and he dies. Should she pay for what she does? What will the police decide to do and what else happens that is tragic?
The author continues with a description for the reader of how to create the bill, the rationale behind the death penalty and the guidelines allowing the reader to understand the process and the seriousness of the issue. But, things are not running smoothly and his ethics have been questioned but with the help of the Speaker of the Assembly Richard Corey meetings were set up, guidelines followed and hopefully the voice of the voters heard. The last time the death penalty was used was in 1851 in Kenosha County.
A WCAP news team from Channel four interviews Tom, Barb and Linda at their home and the end result is explosive as someone does not want this bill to pass and will everything to send out their own message to the voters regardless of the cost. Four people connected with the station were killed in the explosion following the interview and a reporter was dispatched and blaming them.
Told straight from the hip and to the point the author relates a message that readers to needed to hear, the legislature needs to listen to its voters and those for or against need to take less violent stand. The author thoroughly researched the topic and presents an honest and open viewpoint with factual information about the referendums, the procedures involved and just how difficult it is to get your voice heard as Tom and Barb learn.
The end result is explosive and the opinions of many are heard as the jails and the prisoners riot, bombs cost other lives and over 100 people die in the backfire of this fight. Reporters telling it through their eyes, the Governor expressing his wishes and one man’s goals hang in the balance and the lives of many will never be the same. Will the death penalty deter someone from committing murder? Will the state of Wisconsin pass the referendum? What will the end result be and will Thomas and Barb stay in Wisconsin or go somewhere else? Just when things were calming down whom was the man pretending to be a police officer and helping them part of the way until he turned on them and things took a downhill spiral. Wait until you see how all this ties together. Referendum for Murder: How do you vote? Decide when you push the lever in the voting booth. One well thought out book with characters that you will either like or dislike and where many readers will take sides. But, one thing we can all agree on is that author Mickey Polansky wrote a book, which does not need a referendum to give it FIVE STARS!
Fran Lewis: reviewer
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