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Book Discussion is a ‘Capitol Offense’

The Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma book discussion series at Oklahoma City University will continue with “Capitol Offense” by William Bernhardt at 7 p.m. Oct. 7 in Walker Center room 151.

The discussion series is made possible through a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council.
This year’s series is investigating crime novels that take place in Oklahoma. At each session in the five-part series, a humanities scholar makes a presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Small group discussions follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, all participants come together for a brief wrap-up.

Those who are interested in participating are encouraged to preregister and borrow the reading selections and theme brochure by calling Harbour Winn at (405) 208-5472, e-mailing him at [email protected] or dropping by the Dulaney-Browne Library room 211 or 207.

In “Capitol Offense,” main character and lawyer Ben Kincaid attempts to defend a college professor who has all the known facts stacked against him. After losing his wife to what he concludes is official negligence or worse, the professor assaults the officer responsible, who is later found dead. Worse, the professor is found unconscious at the scene of the crime, gun in hand. The prosecution finds out that the professor visited Ben just before the murder occurred. Ben has misgivings of his own since, during their visit, the professor had asked him whether a character in a novel might get away with the murder of a policeman if his lawyer could convince the jury that he was temporarily insane. Against his better instincts, Ben takes the case, knowing that the best chance of getting his client off is, indeed, to plead temporary insanity.

While “Capitol Offense” presents legal questions and a criminal conspiracy that could erupt in any large city, it makes use of the Tulsa cityscape and includes shrewd insights into Oklahoma laws and attitudes.

Winn, director of the Center for Interpersonal Study through Film & Literature at OCU, said the reading series moves beyond discussions of the story plotlines and into a cultural study of the places where the stories take place.

“Mystery and investigation stories find a ready home in Oklahoma and provide a window on the character of the state,” Winn said. “Though mainstream novels may evoke only scant physical description, crime stories and mysteries continue to include realistic location details, precisely because such details may help unravel the crime. In reading these novels, we can rediscover the joys of hearing and seeing people in their natural environment and learn something about how where they are may indicate who they are.”

Other dates and books in the series include:

Oct. 28 — “Twisted Perception” by Bob Avey

Nov. 11 — “The American Café” by Sara Sue Hoklotubbe

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