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The Crying Tree


The Crying Tree Cover

ISBN13: 9780767931748
ISBN10: 0767931742
Condition: Standard
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The Crying Tree

Naseem Rakha

C H A P T E R 1

October 1, 2004

THE DEATH WARRANT ARRIVED THAT morning, packaged in a large white envelope marked confidential and addressed to Tab Mason, Superintendent, Oregon State Penitentiary. Mason had been warned the order might be coming. A couple of weeks earlier, the Crook County DA had let the word slip that after nineteen years on death row, condemned murderer Daniel Joseph Robbin had stopped his appeals.

Mason dropped the envelope on his desk, along with a file about as thick as his fist, then ran his hand over the top of his cleanly shaved skull. Hed been in corrections for twenty years-Illinois, Louisiana, Florida-and on execution detail a half- dozen occasions, but hed never been in charge of the actual procedure. Those other times hed simply walked the guy into the room, strapped him down, opened the blinds on the witness booth, then stood back and waited. Hed worked with one guy in Florida whod done the job fifty times. “It becomes routine,” the officer told Mason, who was busy puking into a trash can after witnessing his fi rst execution.

Now Mason slid into his chair, flicked on his desk lamp, and opened Robbins file. There was the mans picture. A front and side shot. He had been nineteen years old when he was booked, had long scraggly hair and eyes squinted to a hostile slit. Mason turned the page and began to read. On the afternoon of May 6, 1985, Daniel Joseph

Robbin beat, then shot fifteen-year-old Steven Joseph Stanley (aka “Shep”) while in the process of robbing the boys home at 111 Indian Ridge Lane. The victim was found still alive by his father, Deputy Sheriff Nathaniel Patrick Stanley, but died before medical

assistance could arrive. The remaining family members-wife and mother, Irene Lucinda Stanley, and twelve-year-old Barbara Lee (aka Bliss)-were not present during the incident. The Stanleys, who were originally from Illinois, had been living in Oregon for a year and a half when the incident occurred.

The superintendent leafed through more pages-court documents, letters, photos-then leaned back in his chair and looked out his window. A squat rectangular building sat on its own toward the north end of the prisons twenty-five-acre grounds. The last time someone had been executed out there was seven- plus years ago. Mason had been working his way up through the ranks at the Florida State Prison out of Raiford, aspiring for a job like the one he had now-head of a large correctional institution, good salary, power. He blew out a long, disgusted breath. Why now? The Oregon penitentiary was way overcrowded, inmates doubled up in their cells, half of them out of their minds; fights were breaking out left and right, gangs getting tougher to handle; there were race issues, drugs-all while funding for counseling and rehab continued to get slashed. Why now, and why this?

Mason reread the warrant. The execution was scheduled for October 29, 12:01 A.M.

“Less than a goddamn month,” he said, shaking his head. Then, as if to rouse himself, he clapped his mismatched hands, one as dark as the rest of his black skin, one strangely, almost grotesquely white. There was no complaining in this job, he told himself. No moaning about what needed to be done. No stammering or stuttering or

doing anything that might show the slightest bit of resistance or hesitancy. No. Everything in his career had been leading him to this kind of challenge: his demeanor, his words, his actions would all set a tone. And he knew exactly what that tone had to be.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

crb2, January 5, 2013 (view all comments by crb2)
The story line was okay. However, the author really should have delved more into what is involved in DEFENDING capital cases in Oregon. As someone who has worked in capital defense for 20 years, the portrayal of how this case was handled was insulting to those dedicated professionals who work in this area. The story became a real work of fiction for me when I realized the author has not researched the true history of the current death penalty scheme in Oregon and the affect such seminole cases as Penry have had on it. While I am sure it will help assuage those who are pro-death penalty that this is the right thing to do or those who are against it about how "people can change or make things right with each other", it does nothing to really discuss what truly goes on in preparing a case such as this or the dedicated people who work tirelessly for those society wants to label "monster", lock in an 8x8 cell for decades, then kill.
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Iris, July 2, 2012 (view all comments by Iris)
In 1996, Naseem Rakha was assigned by NPR to cover the first execution in 34 years of a death row inmate in Oregon. Rakha's research in order to write a story to be aired the day of the execution was the beginning of her examination of the death penalty. Eventually, it led her to write a novel based on the Oregon execution and others. Written with the integrity of a journalist and the literary skill of a storyteller, the book delves deep into the complexities of crime, punishment, and forgiveness and provides its own healing power.
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Live to Read, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Live to Read)
Naseem Rakha's moving novel deals with classic themes: family, love, secrets, mistakes, forgiveness. As the story develops and new information is slowly revealed, you become more drawn into the drama and more immersed in the realtionship's in the family. As in most families, there are secrets and pain but also love and hope. I love this story. Do yourself a favor and read it soon!
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Product Details

Rakha, Naseem
Broadway Books
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8 x 5.18 x .8 in .6063 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

The Crying Tree Used Trade Paper
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$9.50 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Broadway Books - English 9780767931748 Reviews:
"Review" by , "[A] beautiful and passionate novel... Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "The Crying Tree is a powerful novel full of moral questions as well as surprises. Like real life, there are no easy roads for these characters, but they make their way, one step at a time."
"Review" by , "Rakha writes of one of her central subjects, 'and it wasn't anything she knew how to handle.' Not so for the author, who has crafted not only a compelling read, but one whose message lingers: At what point does that to which we cling for our survival become the very thing that robs us of our life?"
"Review" by , "Beautifully written, expertly crafted, forcefully rendered. Naseem Rakha lays bare all the ambiguities and nuances of our culture in a story that is compelling and deep. The Crying Tree is a story of forgiveness and redemption, but at its core it is a love story as well, and that is the most powerful story of all."
"Review" by , "This is a gripping, well-paced tale, compassionate without being mawkish."
"Synopsis" by , Dramatic, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting, The Crying Tree is an unforgettable story of love and redemption, the unbreakable bonds of family, and the transformative power of forgiveness.
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