A novel about something that affects us all—the law
I think one of the reasons, maybe the most important reason, that books about lawyers—especially those written by lawyers—are a favorite read of so many of us is that laws touch all our lives, in so many different ways.
There isn’t much we do during the course of our lives that isn’t affected by the laws of the land. From the day our birth is legally registered through the day our legal death certificate is signed, laws are part of our lives.
And reading about the American way of justice, with its constant push-pull between right and wrong, with its lawyers, its lawmakers, law enforcers, and lawbreakers, can make for an exciting and satisfying experience.
Phillip Margolin’s book covers the law, good or evil
This book takes a look at a broad spectrum of the actors in almost every aspect of American jurisprudence. Supreme Justice offers a cast of characters that includes, among many lesser roles, these elements of the justice system:
- The president, who nominates candidates for justices of the Supreme Court
- Supreme Court justices who differ on decisions in an important case
- Clerks who work for the various justices, and who can influence the course of a case
- A former policewoman, convicted of murdering her husband
- A homicide detective in a sleepy college town
- A private investigator, and a district attorney who ignores rules of evidence
- Partners and associates of a top-ranked law firm
- The CIA
A Supreme Court vacancy leads to murder
An unexpected vacancy at the Supreme Court is the basis for much of the action in this story. A case that is before the court may reveal ugliness and criminal wrong-doing at the highest levels of government—and the CIA. Justice Moss, who is known to be considering voting the “wrong” way in this case, finds herself a target for an assassin, whose attempt on her life is foiled by Brad Miller, one of her clerks.
A wide-ranging coast-to-coast story, even a “ghost ship”
Margolin connects the action in Supreme Justice to actions and situations that took place in different times and different places. He brings in characters from another book, 2008′s Executive Privilege. Those who have read the earlier story will recognize Brad Miller, Dana Cutler and Sarah Woodruff. This story, as is typical of Margolin’s writing, moves fast, and as noted above, has lots of characters; it covers a lot of ground, and uses twists and turns of plot and characterization to entertain his readers, and keep them in suspense.
He moves the story from death row in an Oregon prison to the corridors of the White House and other power centers in Washington. He adds murders in a small college town on the east coast, and an almost-forgotten story of a “ghost ship” that plays an important part in this case.
Something for everyone who enjoys legal mysteries
Supreme Justice ends with justice for all, and makes for an engaging story that doesn’t challenge the reader; rather it provides plenty of good reading and maintains interest from beginning to end through deft plot devices. Margolin’s characters offer no surprises in their actions, which are always consistent with the need to move the story forward.
There is sufficient wrong-doing, evil and criminal plotting at the highest levels of government to anger any reader. There are judges at various levels from the Supremes through lower courts who act in a less than honorable fashion, if they can get away with it. Secrets hidden away for years, even decades, are opened to the light of justice.
Although there is evil afoot from the first page to the last, this is not a horror story. This is a legal mystery in which wrongs are righted, evil-doers of all stripes get their just desserts, and the good guys come out the victors. And all is well. For now. Until Margolin’s next book.
An entertaining story, a complicated plot but an easy read