Mystery Writers Key West Fest: Murder and Mayhem in Paradise!

Interview with Robert K. Tanenbaum

New York Times bestselling author Robert K. Tanenbaum is set to headline the upcoming Mystery Writers Key West Fest, June 10-12, 2016. Three true-crime books and twenty-seven novels bear his byline - including the celebrated Butch Karp and Marlene Ciampi crime/legal thriller series. His twenty-eighth novel, "Infamy," is due out in September and number twenty-nine is currently in the works. A true-life legal eagle, having never lost a felony trial, Tanenbaum is recognized as one of the nations most respected trial lawyers.


Q&A with Robert K. Tanenbaum

Q: Described as your signature work, your true-crime book, “Echoes of my Soul” examines a dramatic and groundbreaking case that followed the murders of two young women in New York City in 1963. In what way or ways did the “Career Girls Murders” case most significantly impact the law?

RKT: In my judgment, this is the single most important case to come out of New York. It was instrumental in the 1966 Miranda decision (Miranda v. Arizona), which resulted in total reform of police practices and procedures in this country, changing law enforcement forever. My legal mentors were all involved in the case – I was attending Berkeley on a basketball scholarship at the time, but years later one of them, Mel Glass, asked me to write the book. District Attorney Frank Hogan and Assistant D.A.’s John Keenan and Mel Glass, all extraordinary men, found the evidence that led to the real killer and exoneration of George Whitmore, a wrongfully imprisoned man. As a prosecutor the most important thing you can do is exonerate the unjustly accused.

Q: Your bona fides include acting as Deputy Chief Counsel for the congressional committee investigations into the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In your opinion, did Lee Harvey Oswald act on his own in Kennedy’s shooting?

RKT: The official version was that he did it alone without foreign intervention. However the evidence was highly questionable, some downright unbelievable and not trustworthy. When I came to Washington, after investigating the case and coming up with some very important evidence – and with the experience of having already tried several hundred cases to verdict and being responsible for thousands of cases ahead of the criminal courts, and running the homicide bureau - I can tell you that I don’t believe there is any courtroom in America where Oswald would have been convicted on the evidence that was presented before the Warren Commission. I’ll go into more detail on that during my talk at the Mystery Fest.

Q: The Chicago Tribune called Butch Karp and Marlene Ciampi “…the most interesting pair of characters in the suspense genre today.” Why do you feel the married lawyers make for such a compelling duo?

RKT: When I started the series they were both Assistant D.A.’s in Manhattan, reflecting in large measure my work with Glass and Keenan. I wanted to portray diametrically opposed personalities who attempt to seek justice. Carp is very much a dedicated constitutional, due process, fairness driven individual, whereas Marlene is much more oriented towards achieving street justice, sometimes using deadly force.

Q: You have famously said, “I’ve worked with people in Hollywood; I’ve convicted people involved in organized crime and I’ve dealt with the Congress. Having worked with all three of those institutions, sadly I can say that the only ones who mean what they say are those involved in organized crime.” So, when it comes to trust, if you were hanging off a bridge by two fingers and you could only rely on one of the above to save you, which would you call?

RKT: Marlon Brando.


To Contact Mystery Writers Key West Fest

Please write to: Mystery Writers Key West Fest,
926 Truman Avenue,
Key West, Florida 33040
or Email Us