“I have heard the phrase “spine-tingling” used countless times to hype the feeling of thrill and fear that audiences would experience when reading books about monsters or viewing horror films. Indeed, one film producer went so far as to equip theater chairs with devices to invoke a “tingle” in the backs of the audience. In truth, I have thought there must be something wrong with me. Nothing has ever made my spine “tingle,” until now. The first chapter of Stephen Woodfin's novel, Last One Chosen, did it.
The story begins when a brilliant scientist who has hidden himself away as an obscure heating and air conditioning repairman, is arrested by Homeland Security. He has devised a horrifically dangerous weapons system and refuses to help deploy it or craft a defense against it. Thus, he faces the death penalty for espionage and overzealous government agents use super-legal means to prosecute the case. Some find this unbelievable. My spine tingled because it rang too true.
Anyone watching the antics of our government since the terrible events of 9/11 must agree. They and the author of Last One Chosen serve to remind us of another work of fiction, A Man For All Seasons. In that play Sir Thomas Moore is about to be betrayed to King Henry VIII by Richard Rich. Rich is going to lie to curry favor from the King and Moore's family encourages Moore to jail Rich before he can. Moore refuses because Rich has not broken any laws, and his son-in-law, William Roper, complains, “...you would give the Devil the benefit of law!”
That is the crux of the problem that author Stephen Woodfin takes on in Last One Chosen. Should we give accused terrorists the benefit of law?
Woodfin's heroes, two lawyers attempting to defend the accused, are stymied at every turn by the prosecution's extra-legal maneuvers. They, like Moore, believe that, ...when you cut down every law in pursuit of the Devil, “and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide?”
The Last One Chosen is built on the premise that we in this country have been cutting down laws in pursuit of terrorists, and innocents have suffered together with the terrorists. Most may not be aware, but we've all suffered because our freedom and our very lives may now depend on the whim of a member of Homeland Security and a federal prosecutor.
That's why my spine “tingled” as I read this book.”