Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag
A brutal crime takes place taking the lives of a woman and her two foster children. The crime is one of violence and cruelty. One could describe it as evil.
Judge Carey Moore has the task of ruling on whether or not Karl Dahl’s (the man accused of committing these crimes) prior bad acts should be admitted into the trial. Her ruling to not allow Dahl’s prior bad acts in as evidence in the upcoming trial opens her up to some terrible repercussions. Judge Moore finds herself in serious trouble when she becomes the victim herself in what looks like a crime of revenge. There is more trouble that awaits Judge Moore. Is she strong enough to handle the backlash she sets loose with her ruling?
Is everyone guilty of something? That is the premise behind this story; everyone is guilty of something. I believe that this is probably truer than any of us would like to think. Maybe these things are small in comparison to the brutal murder committed at the beginning of this story, but the things we are guilty of can come back and be used against us. They can allow others to believe the worst about us.
Judge Carey Moore is faced with a terrible decision and making that decision sets her up as a target. She needs to be brave and do what she must to keep herself and her daughter safe. Prior Bad Acts is a story of bravery and evil. It is about taking action even when we are the most afraid.
“No,” Carey said. “I was terrified.”
“I should hope so. If you weren’t I’d be scared of you.” He said. “But that is what bravery is: to be afraid and do what you have to anyway. You can’t have courage without fear.”
With all the characters in this story with an axe to grind with the Judge, her husband: David Moore, the detective who was on the case of the murders of the woman and her two foster children: Stan Dempsey (who eventually was taken off the job and put behind a desk over his reaction to the case), and a list of others it is amazing to find true evil in the one character who seems to be the least likely to commit such a brutal murder.
Are there those of us who are born evil? Is it wired into our brain in some way at birth? Detective Kovac (head of investigating crimes committed against Judge Moore) seems to believe this. We can see it in his statement: “What can you say...Some of them just don’t hatch right.” Or is the evil in some of us made by the circumstances of our lives?
Personally I believe it is a bit of both. When we are born there is potential to be either good or evil. If the circumstances are bad enough and play to certain areas of our personalities, which are inherently bad, then evil can be born. Once evil is born it is difficult to rid ourselves of it.
Tami Hoag does a great job with this story. It is very fast paced and leaves you wanting to read on and find out who the murderer really is. Prior Bad Acts left me questioning whether or not someone accused of a crime should necessarily be judged by his previous criminal history. In some cases it really does show what someone is truly capable of. In Karl Dahl’s case Tami Hoag shows us how we need to really look at the acts themselves and not read more into them than what is truly there.