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The Final Case  By  cover art

The Final Case

By: David Guterson
Narrated by: George Newbern
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Publisher's Summary

From the award-winning, best-selling author of Snow Falling on Cedars - a moving father-son story that is also a taut courtroom drama and a bold examination of privilege, power, and how to live a meaningful life.

A girl dies one late, rainy night a few feet from the back door of her home. The girl, Abeba, was born in Ethiopia. Her adoptive parents, Delvin and Betsy Harvey - conservative, white fundamentalist Christians - are charged with her murder.

Royal, a Seattle criminal attorney in the last days of his long career, takes Betsy Harvey’s case. An octogenarian without a driver’s license, he leans on his son - the novel’s narrator - as he prepares for trial.

So begins The Final Case, a bracing, astute, and deeply affecting examination of justice and injustice - and familial love. David Guterson’s first courtroom drama since Snow Falling on Cedars, it is his most compelling and heartfelt novel to date.

©2022 David Guterson (P)2022 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“A unique, moving book . . . Nearly impossible to put down . . . It has an unexpected poignancy that builds as the pages turn . . . Though a story of hate is at its center, it’s enveloped by a larger story of fiction and wonder and love—most brightly that of a son for his father.”—Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times

“Masterful . . . Sublime . . . Ultimately, The Final Case is a thorough investigation into what makes the two main characters tick while providing readers truth about the human condition in that satisfying way only great fiction can do."—Elena Hartwell, New York Journal of Books 

“Elegiac and touched with Seattle Noir . . . The novelist’s celebrated eye for detail is evident on page after page . . . Like Faulkner and Shakespeare, Guterson puts grotesquely evil acts at the center of his narratives. Like John Gardner, the stories are told in non-experimental ways and with a firm moral core . . . As in an earlier review of Guterson’s novels, ‘Here’s the admirable thing. His books keep getting better.’”—David Brewster, Post Alley 

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What listeners say about The Final Case

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Major Disappointment

I felt like I was reading the contents of the bottom drawer of a middling competent writer -- the bits and pieces that were more writing exercises than coherent unified novel.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Dr
  • 01-22-22

Almost great.

Maybe I'm too shallow to appreciate a moralizing diversion from a really good story. I was very much enjoying the story until it took a good plot turn. And immediately another turn from enjoyable narrative to mildly confusing narrative.

Finally the ending went full circle and ended well, but the middle didn't rock my world.

2/3 of very good novel.

2 people found this helpful

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Not what the title implies

Was very disappointed. The title only describes about 40% of what the title implies. Would recommend if the title was different.

1 person found this helpful

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Engaging story within a Story

Unlike anything Guterson has written to date, this story has courtroom drama, speculation, deep contemplation and reflection and the contrasting states of two families living their lives under the rigors each has embraced as “true”. Terrible and sad, yet filled with warmth and love, it is a book that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

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Totally disappointing

What a complete mishmash of a plot. Not even sure I could call it a plot. Where's a good editor when you need one? This book was not ready to be published
Following " Snow Falling on Cedars," I expected so much more.

1 person found this helpful

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Underwhelming post trial

I went to highschool with “Betsy”. I wished the Post-trial chapter would have elaborated on the sentencing a bit more. What changes were made to foster system because of this?
What happened to dad and siblings?

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What a waste

Nothing but bloviating and a waste of time what could’ve been cut down by 2/3rds.

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Newbern’s performance underlines a horrific situation

George Newbern gives Guterson’s account of his father’s last case a dispassionate delivery that makes the adoption and death of Abigail by a right—wing religious couple seem inhuman. This gentle Ethiopian girl was unprepared for the ferocity of the unshakable and merciless beliefs of her adoptive American parents. That such a case could happen, and that the perpetrators could be so convinced of their rightness, is a terrible indictment of our flawed social welfare system. Such people should never have been approved to adopt a child of a different race.

The judge’s summation in sentencing the couple to the maximum allowable penalty was very intense even though it was restrained. She left no doubt about her condemnation of the brutal mistreatment of this vulnerable girl that resulted in her death by exposure to the cold.

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CAUTION!!

There is a good story buried here. And an important message. Also, you will find a heap of material Guterson has been accumulating for years and has now found useful as elastic substance. Hazardous too, is the reader, who is more willing to guess at pronunciations than any listener should have to endure.

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A good story not a great reader

I enjoyed the story but it was hard to do so because I was not a fan of the style of the reader for the audible edition. Overall he read with a sardonic tone of voice that made it hard to identify with not only his narrative character but with the overall sensitivity of the book itself. In addition he consistently mispronounced the name of one of the central locations in the story to the point that it became annoying. One might think he would take the time to understand how the name of a particular county is pronounced by those who live there but he failed to do so. I listen to a lot of books on tape and often find that the readers do a great job but in this case I listened in spite of not because of the reader and it's substantially detracted from my enjoyment of the novel