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The Breakfast Jury

In 1999, a jury of misfits is thrust into the case of the century. A man stands accused of poisoning his wife with antifreeze and they are charged to deliver judgment. During the longest trial in Wisconsin state history, they unwittingly form bonds stronger than anyone could have predicted and come to realize their differences are not so great after all.

One year later, a reunion turns deadly when they fall victim to poison. Is this targeted retribution for their verdict or simply forewarning of something darker to come?

Enter disgraced detective Aramis "Arch" White and his penchant for finding trouble. As he digs into the shadows, skepticism plays a third wheel, blurring the line between duty and vendetta. Can he unmask the puppeteer orchestrating this twisted tango? The clock is ticking and as time winds down he finds that vengeance possesses a wicked sense of irony.

Reviewed by Cayce O. for Wisconsin Writers Association:

The Breakfast Jury by Kenneth B. Humphrey is several books in one: a courtroom dramedy, an homage to The Breakfast Club, a fictionalized true crime account, and a redemption story. Humphrey manages to pull off all four of these narratives in 483 fast-paced pages, an impressive feat.

Ex-detective Aramis "Arch" White, who also features in Humphrey’s Killing Arc trilogy, is emerging from the rubble of his personal and professional lives when he gets roped into investigating a mysterious crime: a healthy young woman is hospitalized after a night out with friends. As Arch soon discovers, those friends were all part of a jury who served on the longest trial in Wisconsin history. The novel’s fictional trial was based on Humphrey’s real-life experience with jury duty, and the authenticity and expertise shine through.

The story's dual timelines—the jury trial itself and Arch’s investigation of an incident that occurs when the jurors reunite one year later—play off each other beautifully, one enhancing the other. Everything from the trial timeline feeds back into the Arch chapters, making the entwined narrative feel seamless. The jurors are strangers with disparate backgrounds and interests, thrown closely together for weeks, which mirrors The Breakfast Club film in a clever way. And even though he wasn’t part of the jury, Arch is the misfit seeking redemption at the center of it all.

One of the most engaging aspects of this novel is the way Humphrey takes the day-to-day mechanics of the courtroom and brings them to life through entertaining jurors and dramatic testimony. Arch’s obsession with proving himself provides an important—and more desperate—counterpoint to the amusing jury interactions. Readers who enjoy courtroom dramas, an entertaining cast of characters, embattled detectives, dual-timeline crime novels, and fast-paced mysteries will enjoy The Breakfast Jury as much as I did.

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