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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter -- widely known for his keenly insightful works of political, social, and legal commentary -- offers a stunning fiction debut that distills his observations on government and human behavior into a spellbinding tale of one person's search for justice.
Talcott Garland, a law professor at an unnamed Ivy League university, is snapped out of his private world of personal dissatisfactions by the death of his father, Judge Oliver Garland. Talcott’s sister, a conspiracy theorist and former journalist, quickly concludes that the conservative, opinionated judge -- one of the few African-American nominees for the Supreme Court in the 1980s -- was the victim not of a heart attack but of foul play. Her ranting is dismissed as the product of misplaced grief and an overactive imagination, but after two other people turn up dead -- the bishop who performed the judge’s funeral ceremony and a man who claimed to be an FBI agent (he is later revealed to have been a private detective) -- Talcott decides to investigate. He knows that 15 years earlier his father, faced with scandal, was forced to withdraw from consideration for the high court, but he is not prepared for the unsavory secrets he begins to uncover about his father's professional life. Nor does he realize that he's become a pawn in a fatal game that threatens to destroy his sanity and long-sought happiness.
Dense with subplots that provide an inside view of Washington politics, the privileged world of Northeast upper-crust African-American society, and the inner workings of an Ivy League law school, this sweeping novel is a masterful portrayal of how justice can be twisted by public figures to serve private purposes, as well as a telling meditation on the corruptible nature of our structured society and power-crazed culture. (Will Romano)