Woken in the middle of the night by a call from a panicked woman whose husband had just been arrested, Ken Williams, an African-American attorney based in Brooklyn, is drawn into a murder case that turns out to be more complex and dangerous than he bargained for. Powerful political forces are at work, sending innocent people to prison.Williams’ client may be next.
In his provocative debut novel, Race to Judgement, Frederic Block, a longtime federal court judge, provides readers with a gripping legal thriller that takes a hard look at racial tensions and corruption in New York’s largest borough.
According to Block, Race to Judgement is “reality fiction,” loosely based on several high-profile cases he handled during his 23 years on the bench.
These include the Crown Heights riots and the trial of mafia boss Peter Gotti. The character of Ken Williams is based on real-life lawyer Ken Thompson who, in his meteoric rise to Brooklyn District Attorney, unseated the long-term incumbent who was involved in a spate of false convictions.
As the story progresses, Williams takes on additional clients, including the falsely accused JoJo Jones who has languished behind bars for years, as well as Deborah Hyman, a young Hasidic woman, an unfortunate victim of sexual abuse. Each step of the way, Williams discovers more and more evidence of corruption leading straight to the DA’s office. Williams soon begins to receive death threats, his office is firebombed, and he is arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge for disobeying a police officer.
With Race to Judgement, Frederic Block has not only created an exciting novel, but also provides an insider’s look at the New York criminal justice system—from the deplorable conditions at Rikers Island, to the mistreatment of African-American prisoners, to the practice of stop-and-frisk, which has disproportionately targeted minorities.
Block has also created a stellar array of characters whose quirks, ambitions, and hobbies add comic relief to the novel. Ken Williams, for example, is more than just a lawyer. He’s an accomplished piano player who composes country music and performs in local bars. The actual songs were written by Block himself, and the sheet music is included in the book. (Recordings are also available for download, adding a special twist to the novel.)
Reed Farrel Coleman, the New York Times bestselling author of What You Break, said, “Block’s Race to Judgement is the inside skinny on the justice system from a man who lives it every day, but it’s the story that shines. Read and enjoy.” It’s a book that will grab readers’ attention from the very first page and keep them enthralled to the end.
Judge Frederic Block was appointed United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York in 1994 and assumed senior status in 2005. He received a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University and an LL.B. from Cornell Law School. He is the author of the bestselling book, DISROBED: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge, and has published articles on a variety of legal topics. He also co-authored the 1985 Off-Broadway musical Professionally Speaking (music and lyrics). Formore information, visit fredericblock.com.