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York County attorney looks at terrorism in latest novel


A local defense attorney has penned a novel that weaves real-life events from recent U.S. history into a courtroom drama.

William Costopoulos, an attorney and senior partner at Costopoulos, Foster & Fields, channels more than 40 years of professional experience in the criminal justice system into his sixth novel, "Soul Witness," a fictional tale based on the potential for terrorist attacks on American soil.

"What gives it a lot of drama is that terrorism is very real and has been promised to be brought to our backyards, a promise that is looming," Costopoulos said. "And it's that reality that was the genesis of this book."

Events: The book follows a series of fictional and actual terrorist events on American soil, Costopoulos said.

"The story line incorporates what happened here in the U.S. on (Sept. 11) and what could happen with lone wolves causing catastrophic events," he said. "One of the big catastrophes (in the novel) is an attack on Macy's in downtown New York on Black Friday and then America's response to that.

"It evolves into a suspect being apprehended, and by order of the president of the United States, the suspect is to be tried in the American courts of law instead of left to languish in Guantanamo Bay."

The courtroom drama is heightened with an element of mystery.

"Prior to the trial, no one knows who this suspect might be," Costopoulos said. "His role, his identity, is finally revealed when he takes the witness stand. The only thing that's undisputed is that he was present at all of these catastrophes."

Issues: "Soul Witness" shows readers how members of the U.S. criminal justice system wrestle with moral, ethical and legal issues surrounding a defendant who defies all known precedents, Costopoulos said

"The pursuit of justice can be elusive and constantly requires the examination of one's own morality," he said.

Costopoulos is looking forward to readers turning the pages of his latest work.

"I've been thinking about this story for a long time. It is a process for me," he said.

"I do believe this is the best thing I've done, and I'm very excited about it."

In addition to "Soul Witness," Costopoulos has penned several other novels, including "Murder Is the Charge: The True Story of Mayor Charlie Robertson and the York, Pennsylvania, Race Riots," which he co-authored in 2004.

While he didn't want to reveal too much, Costopoulos promised readers of his latest novel a satisfying ending.

"Though the realities are tough to accept — that's just how reality is today — with jihadis cutting heads off of journalists and things like that, that's tough to deal with, and that type of thing is part of the story line," Costopoulos said. "But knowing that my story was fiction helped me remove myself from the terror, and I got to write the ending, and I have a great ending for those evil- doers, I really think I do."

"Soul Witness" is now available in hardcover, softcover and e-book through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Xlibris.

— Reach Jessica Schaldebeck at jschladebeck@yorkdispatch.com.