DEATH SENTENCE NOVEL
*** ½ Out of 5
Release Date- 1975
Written by- Brian Garfield
Picking up after Death Wish, Paul Benjamin is now living in Chicago and is continuing is one man war on street crime.
Death Sentence has more action than Death Wish, but at times it left be feeling cold as through a lot of the book there is no real story it’s just Paul killing thugs, but the 2nd half is when the book begins to take a deeper meaning.
Death Sentence does pose the question on would vigilante justice lead to more crime? When would it go from wanting to do the right thing to murder? And where does it end? Will a simple dispute lead to murder? Vigilante justice is a complicated thing; while the law should handle crime, but what about if there is nothing the law could do? So in that aspect I kinda agree with vigilante justice, but soon enough someone accused of a crime would be killed and being accused doesn’t make you guilty. It would also lead to people killing each other because they didn’t like the way someone looked at them or a parking dispute and while these things happen odds are it would become more common. But even with that said I don’t fully disagree with vigilante justice, but Brian Garfield does raise some good points.
While reading Death Sentence and Death Wish for that matter it’s hard to disagree with vigilante justice even if that wasn’t the intentions of Brian Garfield. The justice system is flawed and sometimes fails us. How many times have you picked up a newspaper or turned on the news and someone is arrested for a violent crime that had a long rap sheet? In cases like that its hard to argue against it, but violence just leads to more violence. Like in the book civilians begin to arm themselves and one incident gets a bakery owner and some of his workers killed because he wanted to be like the vigilante and with vigilante justice that’s exactly what would happen as people would think they’re Dirty Harry.
There is a subplot of a 2nd vigilante however he isn’t as careful as Paul and an innocent person gets killed in the crossfire and if people took the law into their own hands this would happen for sure. I really loved the themes in Death Sentence, but the novel as a whole never worked as well as it had the potential to. Despite my problems it was still an enjoyable read for the most part. Like the original, pacing can be an issue, but the book works on a deeper and more powerful level only hindered by the pacing.
In 2007 this novel was adapted for the screen starring Kevin Bacon. However outside of the title the film is nothing like the book outside of a vigilante and one has to wonder why bother paying royalty rights even you aren’t gonna use any plots from the book.