Author Lawrence Taylor
To Honor and Obey

To Honor and Obey

Category True Crime

To Honor and Obey is a human mystery, a search for the heart and mind of a woman. And it is a fascinating look at Michael Dowd, one of America’s foremost criminal attorneys. Known as “The Woman’s Lawyer,” Dowd plays an intricate chess game of courtroom combat in a case with more twists and turns than most suspense thrillers.
Luann Fratt seemed like the most conventional of Park Avenue society matrons. Until she coolly strolled out of her million-dollar co-op and shoved a knife through her estranged husband’s heart. Michael Dowd, a man who was famous for his successful defenses of battered women, was hired to defend her. But what jury would believe in the innocence of a woman who calmly showered and washed her hair before calling the police to report killing her husband? And how could Dowd defend her when even he could not see beyond her cool, uncaring exterior to find the reasons for her crime? The case against Luann seemed ironclad.

From the opposing lawyer, who withholds evidence until the last minute, to the judge, whose own prejudices against women and psychiatrists soon become evident, to the policeman who “forgot” critical evidence, Michael Dowd finds the deck stacked against him. We see his weeks of painstaking preparation, the legal devices and maneuverings used by the prosecution, and the critical tactical decisions Dowd must make to save his client. And we watch as Dowd painfully unravels the secrets of Luann and Poe Fratt’s marriage, reconstructs what happened that fateful night, and solves the mystery of the woman he is defending. To Honor and Obey is not only a sensational courtroom drama, but an investigation of the hidden layers of the human psyche.


Jacket designed by Eric Baker

William Morrow & Company, Inc.
1350 Avenue of the Americas
New York, N.Y. 10019

Printed in U.S.A.

  • Reviews
"One fall dawn in 1988, wealthy Upper East Side Manhattanite Louann Fratt, mother of three, went to the apartment of her estranged husband, Charles, to whom she had been married for 30 years, and fatally stabbed him. After reporting her crime to the police, she retained as counsel scruffy-looking Michael Dowd, a downtown lawyer in every sense, famed for his pro bono defenses of battered women. The curious thing about this re-creation of a case of no particular true-crime excitement is that we learn more about Dowd than about the Fratts. Taylor ( Trail of the Fox ) only superficially probes the wife's life as depersonalized handmaiden to a demanding husband who discarded her in middle age for another woman. At trial, pleading self-defense against her husband's attempted rape, Louann Fratt was found not guilty. So intense is the book's concentration on Dowd, however, that we're told not only his every utterance but virtually his every thought about this case and his others as well. The book proves to be less a defense of the suspect than of her attorney, who, we learn in an epilogue, in 1990 was suspended from practice for five years for paying bribes to a politician, an injustice, argues Taylor, since Dowd was the whistle-blower. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc." - Publishers Weekly
"In the early hours of November 22, 1988, New York socialite Louann Fratt walked three blocks to the Park Avenue apartment of her estranged husband, millionaire C.K. Poe Fratt. There, she put a kitchen knife through his heart. Why? The district attorney says she killed in premeditated anger; defense attorney Michael Dowd argues that she was defending herself against attempted rape. Thus begins this engrossing study of women who are driven to murder by the men who physically and psychologically abuse them; it's also a fascinating profile of a lawyer who defends these women. The book revolves around Dowd (once the subject of a 60 Minutes profile), who has spent much of his career developing "Battered Woman Syndrome" as a legal defense. Using the Fratt case as a foundation, attorney Taylor ( Trail of the Fox, LJ 2/1/81) has crafted a spellbinding true tale of our legal system.
- Rebecca House Stankowski, Purdue Univ. Calumet Lib., Hammond, Ind.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc." - Library Journal
"Taylor skillfully builds suspense right until the final pages.  A real page-turner, this is true-crime writing at its best." - Booklist
"Involving and provocative" - Kirkus Reviews
"More twists and turns than most suspense thrillers." - Rapport
"In Lawrence Taylor’s To Honor and Obey comes an example of an entirely true story packing the suspense and excitement of fiction….A compelling account of a real-life courtroom drama." - Los Angeles Lawyer
"Taylor has crafted a spellbinding true tale of our legal system." - Library Journal