Brandt & Hochman Agency
Published by
Pantheon (2019-06-11)
Current material
Final Pages
Original language
Crime & mystery fiction


by Ciment, Jill

A spare, masterful novel about a shocking murder trial, a sequestered jury, and an affair between two of the jurors - the woman, in free fall in her life and marriage to a much older man.

A sensational murder trial involves a rich, white teenage girl -a twin- who is accused of the horrific murder of her toddler brother.The sequestered jury has to decide on her fate.

Set in a utilitarian marble cube of a courthouse, more Soviet than Le Corbusier and in the court-appointed motel off the interstate.

Hannah (Juror C-2), a 52-year-old former photographer of rock stars and socialites, and Graham (Juror F-17), a 41 year-old anatomy professor, sequestered at the local motel fall into a furtive affair. They keep their oath, as jurors, never to discuss the trial.

During deliberations the lovers learn they are on opposing sides of the case and realize that their fellow jurors are wise to their affair.

After the trial's end, as Hannah returns home to her much older, now, suddenly, frail husband. An exploding media fury involving the case catches them all up in a frenzy of public outrage at a jury that seems to have convicted the wrong twin, and a judge who has received an anonymous handwritten letter about a series of sexual encounters, calling into question their respective verdicts, and announcing she is releasing the jurors' names to the media. Hannah's "one last dalliance before she is too old" takes on profoundly personal and moral consequences, as the novel moves to its affecting, powerful and surprising conclusion.

Jill Ciment was born in Montreal, Canada. She is the author of Small Claims, a collection of short stories and novellas; The Law of Falling Bodies, Teeth of the Dog, The Tattoo Artist, Heroic Measures, and Act of God, novels; and Half a Life, a memoir. She has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts, a NEA Japan Fellowship Prize, two New York State Fellowships for the Arts, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Ciment is a professor at the University of Florida. She lives with her husband, Arnold Mesches, in Gainesville, Florida and Brooklyn, New York.

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Ciment, a virtuoso of the situational novel, hascreated a hypnotizing, forked tale of trust and guilt, masks and doubling, liesand desire, life and death.

Review: Booklist

"Excellent. Short and brisk, propelled by the suspense of multiple questions. Ciment writes with a mordant intelligence and, refreshingly, doesn't belabor topics that in someone else's novel might take up many pages. Another of the many pleasures of this novel is how knowingly but matter-of-factly Ciment depicts class distinctions. The story ends in a way I hadn't expected. I was left unsettled by this deft and gripping novel, and also deeply impressed."

Review: New York Times Book Review

Part love story, part whodunit, part coming-of-old-age tale. This honest, mature look at life and love adds to a growing body of evidence leading to a decisive verdict: Ciment is an author well worth reading.

Review: Kirkus (StarredReview)

Stunningly concise . . . It's been a long time since a novel pulled me in right off the first page as Body did. It's abravura performance, Ciment exercising almost flamboyant control of her material.

Review: The Globe and Mail

Stark and absorbing . . . scathingly funny . . . a smart, compact, refreshingly unsentimental exploration of the persistence of desire amid the fact of death.

Review: The Wall Street Journal

Deft orchestration of absurdity and existential dread distinguishes Ciment's style. That's why the situation of Ciment's latest novel, THE BODY IN QUESTION is so perfectly suited to her powers as a novelist... A profound story about mortality and the mysteries of human behavior. I happily could've been sequestered for a while longer within the confines of Ciment's smart and disturbing novel.

Review: NPR

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