COMPULSION “Has Few Peers; It Ascends to a Dostoyevskian Level”

Author: Meyer Levin

May 22, 2015

“But the imaginative leaps made by the artist who wrote ‘Compulsion’ are leagues beyond mere reportage, including sequences related from within the consciousness of the leading players. ‘Compulsion’ is smartly structured to maximize suspense, and the book’s title is descriptive of the urge a reader feels to keep turning pages. The world of the upper-class Chicago families is rendered in fine-stitched detail. Balanced against the renderings of the culprits’ inner lives are scenes of the young men in the hands of shrewd police and then the court system. The cleverness of the detectives, and the eloquence of the attorneys (the real killers were defended by Clarence Darrow), all rings true.

As psychological thriller and as courtroom drama, this novel has few peers; it ascends to a Dostoyevskian level.”

Tom Nolan’s full review appears in The Wall Street Journal.