... a tender, closely observed and often surprising novel that achieves the intimacy — and occasional randomness — of a diary ... readers anticipating another artful courtroom thriller like Guterson’s prior book may find their expectations upended. In this novel, Guterson is not really writing about who done it, or even why. His subject is family love, and its silent passions grip the reader like a steady, racing current ... Guterson is the kind of writer about whom people used to say, when there were such things, 'I’d read him, even if he wrote the phone book.' Every sentence has a graceful weight and meter and is illumined by a subtle intelligence that makes his descriptions arresting but never showy...Guterson also exhibits a perfect ear for the political rants that so many Americans feel authorized to engage in from both sides of the political spectrum ... Yet for all these incidental pleasures, with the first 70 percent of the novel hewing so closely to the details of the Harveys’ case, it is startling, even disorienting, when the trial comes to a precipitous close, and the case receives only passing mention in the remaining pages ... the fact that Guterson has chosen to fuse nonfiction elements with a work of the imagination seems to bear tribute to the power of creative acts — in particular their ability to render meaning from the shock of incomprehensible events.
... reads like memoir. So real is the illusion that the words are from a real-life narrator that readers may find themselves googling the names of coffee shops and people who appear in the novel ... Part of what makes The Final Case sublime is how quiet it is ... This is a literary novel, the plot more deeply hidden than genre fiction. Rather than action upon action leading to a climax, we are taken on a journey of exploration and discovery into the meaning of justice, the nature of familial responsibilities, and the dynamic between fathers and sons ... Ultimately, The Final Case is a thorough investigation into what makes the two main characters tick while providing readers truth about the human condition in that satisfying way only great fiction can do.
... searching and languid ... deeply reflective ... The details of what emerges as a horrific child abuse case are unsettling and made even more so by the sudden shift of gears to the narrator’s life once Dad’s involvement in the trial ends. The abrupt change of perspective feels disorienting but provides effective ballast for the rest of the story. The looping writing—one of the sentences is 243 words long—demands attention and a slower pace, deepening the novel’s impact ... A touching reminder to find beauty in the mundane despite the relentless crush of the horrific.