Miscarriage of Justice

By Hamilton "Kip" Gayden | Center Street | $22.99 | 330 pages | 2008

Anna Dotson, 32, of Gallatin was a married mother of a daughter and son. Her husband Walter was a prominent ear, nose and throat doctor. On the afternoon of Saturday, March 15, 1913, Anna rode a train to Nashville and walked into a barbershop at 819 Broadway. She pulled a pistol from her muff and fired four bullets into barber Charlie Cobb, who died upon arrival at the hospital.

Why? As Judge Gayden's historical novel reveals, Anna (a preacher's daughter) was persuaded by the Old Testament account of Jephtha in Judges 11:29-40 that killing her former lover was the right thing to do.

She was tried for first degree murder in Davidson County Criminal Court from June 17 through June 24, 1913. I'll let you read the book to learn the verdict. Then you can decide whether justice miscarried.

I liked the author's inclusion of four excerpts from the Nashville Tennessean. My sole quibble with the trial portion of the narrative is that two shrinks are presented as the first defense witnesses (Anna was a "monomaniac"). In truth defendant Anna opened for the defense, as the law required in those days.

I believe Tennessee lawyers will enjoy this enlightening book.