Troubled Waters
by Carolyn Wheat

Berkeley: 1997
$21.95, 252 pp.

Review by Harriet Klausner

In 1969, Cass Jameson, her brother Ron (at his sister's urgings), Jan Gebhardt, and other idealists helped organize migrant farm workers into unions. By joining his sibling and others in their protests, Ron lost his conscientious objector draft status. Ron was drafted and sent to Nam where he returned home as a quadriplegic. In 1982, Ron was driving his specially built van with Jan and several illegal aliens as part of the sanctuary movement. However, this trip went sour and a federal law enforcement agent is killed. Jan fled to the underground and the charges against Ron were held in abeyance, pending Jan's arrest.

In 1997, Jan decides to surrender to FBI officials in Kansas City which, in turn, reactivate Ron's charges. Both are to face a murder trail in Toledo. Cass leaves Brooklyn, to journey home to represent her sibling at the trial. To do so, Cass knows that she must confront her own guilt feelings about her sibling's physical condition and her fear that she will fail him again. She also must look back at her own role and motives as a soldier in President Johnson's war on poverty in the sixties, while watching her personal life become part of the media fascination with the trial.

Troubled Water is a great legal thriller that provides a reader with a solid look at the idealistic sixties, especially the motives of the radical participants and the uglier aspects of the eighties sanctuary movement. Though the insight to much of Cass's motives appear in this novel, what truly turns this into a fabulous book is the insight into the primary characters (even the star in her fifth brilliant appearance gets the full treatment) during three different decades. This reviewer strongly recommend this novel and the previous Jameson tales to fans of legal thrillers and anyone who was there during the sixties.

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