Right after the end of World War I, Newport is full of people, many soldiers and navymen returning from the war. With all those people come crime, crowds, and “indecent behavior.” The Navy sets up a special task force to focus on homosexual activities between men. Anyone engaging in such behavior is to be arrested and given a trial at a later date.
Somehow in all this mess, a pillar in the community, Reverend Samuel Kent, is accused of such behavior by a group of young sailors. Up-and-coming defense attorney William Bartlett is assigned to represent the Reverend. When the Reverend’s day in court comes, William does an excellent job on the defense. Due to an error, the charges are dropped, and Kent is free to go.
Unfortunately for him, a loophole in the laws passed during the war allows the Navy to charge Kent again, claiming he is a pervert who uses his authority over impressionable young Americans defending their country. As Bartlett still firmly believes in Kent’s innocence, he once again takes the case.
As the trial gets underway, Kent and Bartlett become close friends and confidants. Bartlett cuts his teeth in federal court and becomes quite good at discrediting witnesses who otherwise would appear to be wholesome, trustworthy citizens. During the trial, however, there are some tragic events, unveiled secrets, and curious relationships. A government cover-up is exposed, and many are threatened because of it. Most of this has no effect on the trial, but some events threaten the entire proceedings.
I really enjoyed this little-known part of American history. Based loosely on actual events, Certainty educates readers on how people of authority steamrolled others who were different or deemed unethical. Right or wrong, they were often left incarcerated for unreasonable amounts of time with little hope of being treated fairly.
People who were formerly heroes were later treated as criminals, usually through legal entrapment. The historical events and insight into the various characters allow readers to see history as it was, not as how things would be treated today.
Certainty is recommended for mature readers. It discusses sexual relationships, violence, profanity, coarse language, and adult situations. This book uses historically accurate terms and social mores, many of which offend. The author is not trying to offend, but rather use the actions and events from the time period to illustrate the situations. Those who can appreciate the situation for the time period will find an interesting story of deceit, entrapment, and sorrow.
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