Formats available: Paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Length: 338 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Date Released: July 1, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository
After taking a bullet for his commander-in-chief, Secret Service agent Joseph Reeder is a hero. But his outspoken criticism of the president he saved—who had stacked the Supreme Court with hard-right justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, amp up the Patriot Act, and shred the First Amendment—put Reeder at odds with the Service’s apolitical nature, making him an outcast.
FBI agent Patti Rogers finds herself paired with the unpopular former agent on a task force investigating the killing of Supreme Court Justice Henry Venter. Reeder—nicknamed “Peep” for his unparalleled skills at reading body language—makes a startling discovery while reviewing a security tape: the shooting was premeditated, not a botched robbery. Even more chilling, the controversial Venter may not be the only justice targeted for death…
Is a mastermind mounting an unprecedented judicial coup aimed at replacing ultra-conservative justices with a new liberal majority? To crack the conspiracy and save the lives of not just the justices but also Reeder’s own family, rising star Rogers and legendary investigator Reeder must push their skills—and themselves—to the limit.
This was so much fun! I know there are terrible crimes committed, etc., etc., but the story was so tight and the point-of-view character had just the right touch of baddassery/snarkitude that I poured through it in one evening.
The story is a mix of early Tom Clancy (before they stopped editing him and the books got very bloated) and the Liam Neeson movie Taken. Supreme Justice has a relentless pace and a completely absorbing story. It is a bit of a formula political thriller, but in a good way.
The book is set in a near-future time period, and the suspense relies on Washington D.C. being very much a company town, with said company being the U.S. Federal government. (Shades of Clancy). The near-future is easy to determine, because the current president is the second African-American president, after the first one with the middle name “Hussein”. No guesswork required.
But the setup is that in between these two liberal Democratic periods, the U.S. got through 8 years of an absolute neocon who packed the Supreme Court and pushed through legislation that beefed up the Patriot Act, gave all police officers even wider authority for search and seizure, pretty much wiping out the 4th amendment, reinstated prayer in public schools and repealed Roe v. Wade.
For liberals, it was a seriously sucky eight years. Former Secret Service Agent John Reeder feels more than a bit responsible for four of those eight years. He took a bullet for the neocon president, even though he hated every policy the man stood for. Reeder did his job, and made the president a hero in the process. Reeder retired because he couldn’t stand the politics any longer.
Which doesn’t mean he wasn’t good at his job. He is. He’s so good that he was able to parlay his government experience into creating a very successful security consulting firm.
When a Supreme Court justice is killed in the middle of a botched robbery, Reeder’s old friend at the FBI calls him in as a consultant. And the first thing he notices is that the whole mess was not a botched robbery. It was an assassination concealed by a botched robbery.
Even before a second justice is murdered, Reeder is the first one to figure out that someone is knocking off conservative justices, with an eye to letting the current president fix the balance of the Court. But when Reeder starts to close in on a possible lead, someone close to the investigation decides that the best way to derail it is to kidnap Reeder’s daughter.
If the motto is to “keep your friends close and your enemies close”, then who is so close that they know Reeder is the investigator with an inside track to the killer?
Escape Rating A-: Some of the early Clancy books had this same sense of tightly packed political thriller with hidden conspiracy theory agendas. And Liam Neeson’s Taken is the story of an ex-CIA Agent on the hunt to find his kidnapped daughter.
But just because a story has been done before (everything has been done before, after all) doesn’t mean that it can’t be very entertaining when it’s done well. Supreme Justice is done extremely well.
It hinges on Reeder being an intelligent and likeable character, which he is. He’s pretty honest about how he feels about people and situations, even when that honesty gets him in trouble. His amazing ability to read people makes him an expert investigator. He doesn’t just look at the evidence, he studies the people who are making the evidence.
Even when he doubts himself, he is constantly trying to figure out everyone else, and usually succeeding. His big failure is what makes this case work.
As much as I might personally dislike (or even hate) the conservative turn that the country has taken between now and the setting of the story, the way that it happens makes perfect sense. And so in the end does the motivation for the crime spree.
If you enjoy tightly plotted political action thrillers, and I do, Supreme Justice is absorbing fun to read.
The author is giving away a copy of Supreme Justice to one lucky US/CAN winner!
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