The new novel, No Truth Left To Tell (Greenleaf Press 2020), by former federal prosecutor Michael McAuliffe poses important moral and ethical questions for lawyers and lay readers alike. The story, about the feds chasing the Klan in the Deep South, portrays a southern town still grappling with its history of racial violence. The Klan wants to re-ignite a race war, and it targets the town’s minority communities with burning crosses as their first attack. The town of Lynwood, Louisiana, is on edge, with more violence sure to come. Adrien Rush––a young federal civil rights prosecutor from D.C.––is sent to investigate. He teams up with Lee Mercer, a black FBI agent from the local office, who is older and wiser.
Their investigation of the violent racists and how they work with each other despite their differences form the spine of the book. Their journey together is filled with drama, including a difficult, but real friendship that develops between them, and ultimately a great sacrifice for one. The tension between Rush and Mercer mirrors the real-world relationship between prosecutors and investigators. It makes for compelling reading.
The novel is full of other interesting, memorable characters. For example, the book opens with a prologue set in 1920 in which Nettie Wynn, a young black girl, witnesses a lynching of a black man in the town’s central square. The horror of the murderous scene creates the emotional foundation for the novel’s narrative. Readers come to know–and admire–Nettie Wynn as she is reintroduced as an elderly woman of modesty and grace.
The novel’s story is about how America deals with homegrown violent extremism, both in and out of the courtroom. Are the Klan’s actions domestic terrorism? Should the same rules apply to violent extremists as other criminal defendants? These are challenging, meaningful questions, and the author wraps them inside a story that entertains and challenges at the same time.
No Truth Left To Tell is a non-political book that forces us to reflect on the choices we’ve made about constitutional rights and due process, especially when those rights are for the despicable among us––that is, the Klansmen. There are chapters about the feds trying to get the Klan’s membership lists with a grand jury subpoena and, more dramatically, how a local detective obtains a confession from the Klan leader. Lawyers (and those trained or working in the law) would no doubt see the constitutional issues that arise from these events.
I could easily see No Truth Left To Tell as a law school “read” because the book is set in the legal world as much as it is in a southern town. The book is a hybrid. It’s a crime thriller carried in bookstores and online, but it’s also a worthy teaching tool for lawyers and students of the law.
The novel’s author, Michael McAuliffe, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and grew up in Spring, Texas. His connection to Texas is strong as he has immediate family members living in both Byrne and New Braunfels. For more information about the book or the author, you can go to book’s website at https://notruthlefttotell.com.