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From Barnes & NobleA fast-paced ride through the politics and hidden agendas of a remote northern California town, Above the Law is the latest novel from New York Times bestselling author J. F. Freedman. The ironic title works especially well here, covering the bases for each plot thread as it's unraveled -- from personal deceptions to those with vast ramifications for all involved. This is a finely-plotted tale of police corruption that unfolds in an expert fashion, revealing that, despite the power of money and lies, no one is above the law.
Returning to the foray is former defense attorney Luke Garrison (The Disappearance), who has become something of a media celebrity after events following a hostage crisis in which Garrison was forced to kill two criminals. He receives an invitation from his old friend Nora Ray, a D.A. in isolated Muir County, to become a special investigator in the murder of Reynaldo Juarez, an international drug lord on the FBI's ten most wanted list. Despite the attorney general's instructions to take him alive, Juarez was killed during a vicious and bungled DEA raid on Juarez's compound in Muir County.
As the investigation heats up, so does Garrison's relationship with Nora. Garrison realizes right off the bat that something isn't quite right with this case, so he plunges into a heaping pile of lies and deceptions surrounding the DEA agents who bucked the attorney general's orders for reasons unknown. Garrison also suspects that Nora may be hiding some kind of a connection linking the crime to her own somewhat mysterious past. The populace of Muir County is an equally puzzling lot, including Sheriff Miller and his deputy, Wayne Bearpaw, two officers with their own secrets who have more than enough on their hands with the local impoverished Native American population. Regardless of his personal feelings, Garrison continues his hunt for the truth no matter what he may uncover or who else may be incriminated.
Freedman skillfully weaves together the clandestine situations and the corrupt politics of the past and the present. History plays a large part in this novel, and scenes play out with an incredible energy that lends itself to the flow of the storyline. The author refuses to allow for any easy, black-and-white answers at any time. All parties involved are constantly discovering more about themselves and exactly what the cost might be for each conviction and stance taken. While our protagonists have plenty of their own moral ambiguities, they still strive to do what's right, despite the overwhelming amount of resistance they meet.
Above the Law is deceptively simplistic in its own right, working on several levels at once, while the main mystery-plot element often takes a back seat to the equally involving ones of a more personal nature. The gray areas of conflicting opinions lend a believability to the novel that isn't usually found in most crime thrillers on the market. It's the author's world view, and his understanding of conflicting human nature, that makes this novel one readers can trust to bring them to a gripping, and wholly satisfying, conclusion.