Who says the injustice in DOWN is not credible?
Some of the early feedback from DOWN is that the injustice the hero tries to correct would never have happened. If you think so, you might find it hard to get into the story, although some readers don’t care, they just enjoy it as a whodunit without being too critical.
What is the injustice that some find hard to believe?
The story is about an investigation into a cold case from the 1960’s when a black man was hanged for a double murder. The evidence against him was not conclusive but there was little evidence to the contrary. He failed to make a good impression on the police, the courts or the jury. No other suspect was readily available. His defence lawyers we not very good.
What was hard to believe about that injustice?
Some readers thought the police would not have charged a man on such flimsy evidence. Others argue the court would have dismissed the case at an early stage. Still others thought the jury would not have convicted him. Is not everyone innocent until proven guilty?
Was race the cause of that injustice?
You will have to read the book to see. In any case, you might think it would have been a factor, whether conscious or not, in the minds of everyone involved. Another factor would be the pressure on the police to get a result. There is also the unconscious bias we all feel towards people we don’t like, regardless of race. If someone is too defiant, is caught out in lies, acts suspiciously (whatever that means) you have to make a deliberate effort to treat them fairly. Police officers, judges and lawyers should be aware of this and make that effort, but I doubt that is always the case.
Is this fiction based on any actual injustice?
I did not draw on any actual case. However, I am aware of many instances of wrongful convictions being overturned by the Court of Appeal over the years. When the whole story has come out, I have often been appalled at the fact that the original verdict was reached on the basis of such little evidence.
Do I believe such injustice is widespread?
I cannot say. The cases which are overturned by the Court of Appeal are a small minority of all the cases tried. Are they the tip of an iceberg, or a true minority? Who knows? Until we do, there is plenty of scope for us fiction writers.