LAW & CRIME

Nobody’s Child: A Tragedy, a Trial, and a History of the Insanity Defense

Norton. Mar. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780393651928. $28.95. LAW
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In her first book, attorney and psychologist Vinocour recounts a murder case in which a grandmother was convicted of second-degree murder after her grandson fell while trying to reach an item on a high shelf. In exploring the facts of the case, Vinocour considers whether the grandmother, who lived with mental illness, was competent to stand trial. The author maintains that she was; however, there was still the question of whether the defendant was not guilty by reason of insanity. There was clear evidence of longstanding abuse—but at whose hands? The defendant was unable to explain the head trauma her grandson endured. Using public records and notes from her own involvement in the case, Vinocour, who writes as an outlet for frustration and anger over the abuse she experienced as a child, demonstrates that insanity as a legal defense has evolved throughout the years, yet it is difficult to prove.
VERDICT As a case study, this well-written book can be a companion to Alisa Roth’s Insane, a comprehensive view of all sides of the issue. It will engage all readers interested in the intersection between crime and mental health.

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