GRIF STOCKLEY – Probable Cause.

Ivy, paperback reprint; 1st printing, December 1993. Hardcover edition: Simon & Schuster, October 1992.

Grif Stockley

   According to the information provided inside the back cover of Probable Cause, the second of his two recorded adventures, Grif Stockley was (in 1993) “an attorney for Central Arkansas Legal Services, which was funded by the federal government to provide representation to indigents in civil cases.”

   As an author, his series character is Gideon Page, a middle-aged attorney whose first case after striking out on his own is highly is highly charged with racial overtones. And undertones, too, for that matter. His client is a black psychologist who’s accused of killing a retarded girl he was administering electric shock therapy to with a cattle prod. Why is the case so difficult? The man was having an affair with the wealthy girl’s mother, who is white.

   Large portions of this novel are taken up with detective work, but for the most part what this is an intimate, inside look at how the justice system actually works, with lots of snapshot character studies of the people who either try to make it work, or (in some cases) try to make it work on their behalf.

   Page’s life with his precocious and sensitive high school daughter (Rosa, her mother, is dead) and his platonic love affair with Rainey, a social worker at a local state hospital, are essential parts of the story, more than background matter, although not part of the case itself.

   This is the legal equivalent of a multi-faceted and well-diversified police procedural, in other words, as Page divides his time among his other clients, colleagues and adversaries, told by someone who’s been there. One suspects with some amount of surety that some of Stockley’s own clients, colleagues and adversaries may find more than a little similarities between themselves and some of the people populating this book.

   There’s very little spelled out in black and white, pun intended, including the ending, nor as to what might happen next in Gideon Page’s life. I for one will be looking eagerly for more in the local used book stores. Unaccountably, this is the only one of his adventures that I own.

   Thanks to Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, here are the others:

      Expert Testimony. Summit Books, 1991.

Grif Stockley

      Probable Cause. Simon & Schuster, 1992.
      Religious Conviction. Simon & Schuster, 1993.
      Illegal Motion. Simon & Schuster, 1995.
      Blind Justice. Simon & Schuster, 1997.

   And if you’re interested, here’s a link for more information on Grif Stockley himself.