The Supreme Court is one of our most sacred—and secretive—public institutions. But sometimes secrets can lead to cover-ups with very deadly consequences.
Terry Scarborough is a legal scholar and provocateur who craves headline-making celebrity, but with his latest book he may have gone too far. In it he resurrects forgotten language in the U.S. Constitution—and hints at a missing letter of Thomas Jefferson's—that threatens to divide the nation.
Then, during a publicity tour, Scarborough is brutally murdered in a San Diego hotel room, and a young man with dark connections is charged. What looks like an open-and-shut case to most people doesn't to defense attorney Paul Madriani. He believes that there is much more to the case and that the defendant is a pawn caught in the middle, being scapegoated by circumstance.
As the trial spirals toward its conclusion, Madriani and his partner, Harry Hinds, race to find the missing Jefferson letter—and the secrets it holds about slavery and scandal at the time of our nation's founding and the very reason Scarborough was killed. Madriani's chase takes him from the tension-filled courtroom in California to the trail of a high court justice now suddenly in hiding and lays bare the soaring political stakes for a seat on the highest court, in a country divided, and under the shadow of power.
Bestseller Martini's entertaining ninth Paul Madriani legal thriller (after 2005's Double Tap) offers an improbable if intriguing premise. San Diego, Calif., attorney Madriani and Harry Hinds, his longtime partner, agree to represent Carl Arnsberg, a racist facing execution for the bludgeoning-by-hammer murder of author Terry Scarborough, whose nonfiction bestseller, Perpetual Slaves, has actually led to riots in the streets. Scarborough focused the U.S. public on the retention in the Constitution of offensive language defining African-Americans as three-fifths human, despite subsequent amendments overriding those statements. He intended to follow Perpetual Slaves with a sequel that would reveal the existence of a secret letter written by Thomas Jefferson whose contents Scarborough believed would prove even more incendiary. Madriani and his team race frantically to trace a copy of that letter, which disappeared from the victim's briefcase at about the time of his murder. Compelling courtroom scenes, which display a sophisticated knowledge of legal trench warfare, compensate for some less-than-credible plot twists.