In 1935 Dr Isaak Kohler, a distinguished Zurich councilman, walks into a restaurant full of well-known politicians, businessmen and artists, and shoots a university professor in open view. For his crime, Kohler is sentenced to twenty years in prison. Dr Kohler, happy as a lark and infectiously content behind bars, sends for Spat, a young, down-on-his-luck lawyer and asks him to re-investigate his case on the supposition that he is innocent. Spat does the seemingly impossible - he manages to have the murderer acquitted - and in the process is driven to madness. The lawyer becomes obsessed with his intellectual enterprise and, seduced by the notion of justice, decides to murder the murderer. Durrenmatt tells the final part of the story in his own voice, and reveals the sorry fate that befalls Spat after he becomes the unwitting participant in Dr Kohler's conspiracy of revenge. The Execution of Justice is a brilliant allegorical thriller that dramatises the distinction between justice and the law.
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