Book Review: A Case for Solomon. A book about Bobby Dunbar and “the kidnapping that haunted a nation.” This book by Tal McThenia and Margaret Dunbar Cutright came out in 2012 and there are many reviews of this book online. Why add mine? I have mixed feelings about this book.
A lot of people said this book centered on the question: how far would you go to get your child back? To me the real question was: how far will you go to keep your wife from going insane to the point of death?
Clearly, the search for their son Bobby started out in earnest. However, along the way Percy Dunbar admitted something. Drunk and fatigued, he was quoted as: “I have become reconciled to the loss of the child, but I don’t believe my wife ever will, and I do not know what I will do if I do not find the child.” Could Percy have been misquoted? Of course. However, what struck me was that everyone spoke about “Bobby” or “Bruce.” But Percy, the searching father, while drunk and with his inhibitions down, he spoke about “the child.” Not “my child” or “Robert” or “Bobbie.”
Reading further in the book, I wondered how solid the marriage was between Percy & Lessie Dunbar. No doubt that they had lost a son but they knowingly took the wrong boy home. In the book are photographs of Bobbie as an infant and one taken after “the child” had returned. We now know for sure that it is Bruce. Just compare Bruce’s cheeks, chin, and fullness under the lower lip to Julia Anderson’s. The eyes should have been a big red flag but I digress.
The bulk of the book describes in agonizing details how the shoddy trial was prepared and carried out. Everyone had an interest in the case and everyone had a loyalty statement to make. But in the end, the fact that they were discussing a child’s life did not seem to be first and foremost on their self-centered minds. What they decided in the end was who would be more likable as parents: Walters, Anderson or the Dunbars.
The couple that was awarded the child was not able to keep their family together. Almost tucked in at the very last minute in the back of the book, we read what happened to Percy & Lessie Dunbar’s marriage. Percy’s aggressive behaviour, campaigning as “father of kidnapped Bobbie,” and affair affected both their sons and their lives. Lessie’s departure from the boys, her careless age deception that allowed her youngest son Alonzo to serve at 15, makes you wonder about her frame of mind. Was that there all along and did we just not see it because we were too focused on the alleged kidnapping? Or, did this behaviour come afterwards as a reaction to all that they had been through?
The only refreshing and soothing part is where Bobbie (but in reality Bruce) meets his future wife. With Marjorie and her family, he finally found a place where he could be just himself. And when he was allowed to be just himself, he built a wonderful family of his own; a fierce father who understood that identity is not in a name. It is in the choices you make.