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Protect and Defend (Kerry Kilcannon Series #2)

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Overview

On a cold day in January President Kerry Kilcannon takes the oath of office-- and within days makes his first, most important move: appointing a new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Kilcannon's choice is a female judge with a brilliant record. And a secret.

While the Senate spars over Caroline Masters' nomination, an inflammatory abortion rights case is making its way toward the judge--and will explode into the headlines. Suddenly, the most divisive issue in America turns the...

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Protect and Defend (Kerry Kilcannon Series #2)

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Overview

On a cold day in January President Kerry Kilcannon takes the oath of office-- and within days makes his first, most important move: appointing a new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Kilcannon's choice is a female judge with a brilliant record. And a secret.

While the Senate spars over Caroline Masters' nomination, an inflammatory abortion rights case is making its way toward the judge--and will explode into the headlines. Suddenly, the most divisive issue in America turns the President's nomination into all-out war. And from Judge Masters to a conservative, war-hero senator facing a crisis of conscience and a fifteen-year-old girl battling for her future, no one will be safe. Protect and Defend takes us on a riveting journey between what is legal, what is right . . . and the price of finally knowing the difference.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Our Review
Patterson Tackles Big Issues in New Political Thriller
Richard North Patterson's Protect and Defend is many things at once: a courtroom drama, a work of social criticism, an examination of the harsh realities of public life, and an evenhanded analysis of the controversial, interconnected issues of late-term abortion and parental consent. The result of all this is a compelling, hugely ambitious narrative that successfully illuminates the predatory nature of life in the corridors of power.

Protect and Defend begins, portentously, with an inauguration and a death. Kerry Kilcannon, last seen in No Safe Place, has just been elected President by the narrowest of margins. In the aftermath of his inaugural address, Roger Bannon, Chief Justice of a bitterly divided Supreme Court, suffers a fatal stroke, providing the administration with its first major challenge: finding a suitable replacement. Willfully courting controversy, Kilcannon nominates Caroline Masters -- a recurring Patterson heroine -- as the first female Chief Justice in the history of the Court.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, a potentially life-altering event gathers momentum. Mary Ann Tierney, the pregnant, 15-year-old daughter of devoutly pro-life parents, learns that her fetus, which is over five months old and legally viable, is hydrocephalic and is likely to be born without a cerebral cortex. When she also learns that the cesarean section required for the child's delivery carries a measurable risk of future infertility, she requests an abortion. Her parents, backed by a recent piece of legislation called the Protection of Life Act, predictably withhold their consent. All this sets the stage for the dramatic centerpiece of the book, as Mary Ann, aided by a gifted young lawyer named Sarah Dash, takes her case to the courts, challenging both her parents' most deep-seated beliefs and the constitutionality of the Protection of Life Act.

What follows is a rigorously constructed debate on late-term abortion that rapidly becomes a national cause celebre. As the case proceeds through the various levels of the judicial system, it begins to exert a gravitational pull that affects both the Caroline Masters confirmation hearings and the professional -- and sometimes personal -- lives of almost every major character. Many of these characters have complex personal histories, and -- in some cases -- carefully concealed secrets. Most of these secrets will be dragged into the light before the narrative ends.

Protect and Defend cogently addresses a number of troubling issues: abortion, the right to privacy, the politics of scandal, the Faustian compact between elected officials and special interest lobbies, the difficulty of making honorable choices in a world ruled by political expediency. It is, to my mind, Richard North Patterson's best, most provocative novel to date, a closely observed, brilliantly detailed portrait of the best and worst aspects of the democratic process.

--Bill Sheehan

Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, has just been published by Subterranean Press (www.subterraneanpress.com).

From the Publisher
"PROTECT AND DEFEND IS A WINNER. . . . ENGROSSING FROM THE FIRST PAGE . . . Patterson crank[s] up a wild ride on a roller coaster of morality, politics, and emotions."
--USA Today

"POWERFUL . . . RIVETING FROM BEGINNING TO END . . . With Protect and Defend, Richard North Patterson lays further claim to being one of America’s best contemporary popular novelists."
--The Detroit News

"BRILLIANT . . . PATTERSON HAS CAUGHT LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE. . . . PUT THIS ONE AT THE TOP OF YOUR HOT LIST."
--STEPHEN KING

Tom Nolan
In Protect and Defend, Mr. Patterson's characters of all political stripes are convincingly and memorably drawn. Through their public actions and backstage maneuvers, Protect and Defend builds to a powerful catharsis.
Wall Street Journal
Carol Memmott
Protect and Defend is engrossing from the first page, and my discomfort turn to fascination as Patterson cranked up a wild ride on a roller coaster of morality, politics and emotions.
USA Today
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
U.S. President Kerry Kilcannon, introduced by Patterson in 1998's No Safe Place, returns for another political dogfight in this meticulously researched, sharply observed tension builder about a Supreme Court nominee mired in the abortion debate. Kilcannon, seeking to counter the court's conservative leanings, has nominated another Patterson heroine, Caroline Masters (Degree of Guilt; The Final Judgment), an appellate court judge of impeccable legal pedigree, yet one vulnerable to attack from the right. The single San Francisco judge harbors a secret: she had a child out of wedlock 27 years ago, a painful ordeal that her critics soon uncover. Masters's struggle for confirmation by the U.S. Senate plays out against the backdrop of another court caseDthat of Mary Ann Tierney, a 15-year-old six months pregnant with a hydrocephalic baby. Citing a new federal law, Tierney's parents, both prolife activists, refuse to allow their daughter to abort. When Tierney's suit seeking to overturn the law reaches the appellate court, Masters's foes work out a backroom deal that requires Masters to hear the case and issue an opinion that could doom her nomination and possibly Kilcannon's presidency. Excelling as both a political novel and a tale of suspense, Patterson's latest takes a provocative look at the ethics of abortion and the power plays endemic to American politics, skewering the Christian Right, the gun lobby and campaign financing along the way. In lesser hands, the book's exhaustive recitation of abortion pros and cons might have spelled polemical tedium, but Patterson's strong characterizations and sensitivity to both sides (though he leans prochoice) illuminate one of society's most bitter and divisive issues.
Library Journal
In his 11th novel, former courtroom lawyer Patterson builds upon No Safe Place, in which liberal senator Kerry Kilcannon ran for the presidency. Here the newly inaugurated Kilcannon immediately locks horns with conservative Congressional factions when he nominates appellate judge Caroline Masters as Supreme Court Chief Justice. Kilcannon's opponents attempt to derail the nomination by conspiring to have Judge Masters rule on a controversial and highly publicized late-term abortion case. The courtroom drama centers on 15-year-old Mary Ann Tierney's attempt to overturn the new parental consent law, which prevents her from legally aborting her hydrocephalic fetus. Mary Ann is represented by young, articulate Sarah Dash, who once clerked for Judge Masters, and opposed by her own father, a respected philosopher. Although the presentation suggests a pro-choice slant, Patterson's characters argue both sides of the issue intelligently, contributing to the intriguing complexity of a very thrilling political novel. Highly recommended for all public libraries.--Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-When the Chief Justice drops dead at the inauguration of Kerry Kilcannon, the charismatic new president appoints federal judge Caroline Masters to the high court and begins assembling a strategy to get her approved by a contentious Congress. Meanwhile, a pregnant teen with a damaged fetus goes to court to challenge her parents, who helped to pass a new parental-consent law that prevents her from having an abortion. The two events become intertwined, and as the plot thickens, almost every current domestic issue imaginable, from campaign finances to gun control to privacy rights, comes into play. Patterson skillfully juggles a large cast of characters and controversies, but the result is that his people emerge not as real individuals but as too-facile spokespersons for different points of view, and political or legal maneuvers are not always clearly explained. Nevertheless, fans of West Wing and aspiring lawyers will enjoy the action and the opportunity to contemplate the process of lawmaking and the difficulty of defining and maintaining integrity in the political arena.-Jan Tarasovic, West Springfield High School, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
John W. Dean
. . . a thoroughly convincing account of a controversial Supreme Court confirmation proceeding. . . . This is a page turner that leaves you not merely satisfied but informed.
New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
The hotly contested abortion rights case that snarls his first Supreme Court nomination proves to Kerry Kilcannon that running for president (No Safe Place, 1998) is a walk in the park compared to actually serving in the office. Mary Ann Tierney, 15, comes to San Francisco attorney Sarah Dash for advice about the hydrocephalic baby she's carrying—a baby her staunchly pro-life parents won't let her abort even though he's almost certain to be born without a cerebral cortex, via a Caesarian section that may prevent her from bearing further children. The controversy Sarah expects from arguing for Mary Ann's right to an abortion suddenly multiplies exponentially when her client's name gets leaked to the media. But there's much more at stake than the fate of Mary Ann and her family, for among the dozens of high-placed parties it touches is Caroline Masters (The Final Judgment, 1995, etc.), President Kilcannon's nominee to replace the Supreme Court Chief Justice who dropped dead on Inauguration Day. Despite her best attempts to remain neutral on the volatile case and the vexed questions of late-term abortion and parental consent it entails, Caroline is repeatedly trapped by her enemies into going on record in Mary Ann's favor. When the scene shifts from the California courtroom to the Senate chambers Caroline must negotiate to win confirmation, Patterson loses some of the urgency of Mary Ann's plight; but he compensates by a wonderfully inventive account of the infighting between the President and Caroline's foes, all of them armed to the teeth with hardball tactical tricks dressed up in the rhetoric of moral principle. Ablissfullylarge-scale political thriller that's also anunsparing examination of tough questions about abortion, by an author shrewd and generous enough to give spokespeople of every persuasion their day in court.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345404794
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Series: Kerry Kilcannon Series , #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 277,100
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 1.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard North Patterson’s ten previous novels include six consecutive international bestsellers. His novels have won an Edgar Allan Poe Award and the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. Formerly a trial lawyer in Washington and San Francisco, Mr. Patterson also served as an assistant attorney general in Ohio and as the SEC’s liaison to the Watergate special prosecutor. He now serves on the boards of Common Cause, the Family Violence Prevention Fund, Handgun Control Inc., and Ohio Wesleyan University. He lives with his wife, Laurie, and their family in San Francisco and on Martha’s Vineyard.
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Read an Excerpt

“I, Kerry Francis Kilcannon . . .”

In a high clear voice, carrying a trace of Irish lilt, Kerry Kilcannon repeated the historic phrases intoned by Chief Justice Roger Bannon.

The two men faced each other on the patio which fronted the west side of the Capitol, surrounded by guests and officeholders and watched from greater distances by thousands of well-wishers who covered the grounds below. The noonday was bright but chill; a heavy snow had fallen overnight, and the mist of Bannon’s words hung in the air between them. Though Kerry wore the traditional morning coat, those around him huddled with their collars up and hands shoved in the pockets of much heavier coats. Protected only by his traditional robe, the Chief Justice looked bloodless, an old man who shivered in the cold, heightening the contrast with Kerry Kilcannon.

Kerry was forty-two, and his slight frame and thatch of chestnut hair made him seem startlingly young for the office. At his moment of accession, both humbling and exalting, the three people he loved most stood near: his mother, Mary Kilcannon; Clayton Slade, his closest friend and the new Chief of Staff; and his fiancée, Lara Costello, a broadcast journalist who enhanced the aura of youth and vitality which was central to Kerry’s appeal. “When Kerry Kilcannon enters a room,” a commentator had observed, “he’s in Technicolor, and everyone else is in black-and-white.”

Despite that, Kerry knew with regret, he came to the presidency a divisive figure. His election last November had been bitter and close: only at dawn of the next morning, when the final count in California went narrowly to Kerry, had Americans known who would lead them. Few, Kerry supposed, were more appalled than Chief Justice Roger Bannon.

It was an open secret that, at seventy-nine, Bannon had long wished to retire: for eight years under Kerry’s Democratic predecessor, the Chief Justice had presided grimly over a sharply divided Court, growing so pale and desiccated that he came, in Kerry’s mind, to resemble parchment. Seemingly all that had sustained him was the wish for a Republican president to appoint his successor, helping maintain Bannon’s conservative legacy; in a rare moment of incaution, conveyed to the press, Bannon had opined at a dinner party that Kerry was “ruthless, intemperate, and qualified only to ruin the Court.” The inaugural’s crowning irony was that the Chief Justice was here, obliged by office to effect the transfer of power to another Democrat, this one the embodiment of all Bannon loathed. Whoever imagined that ours was a government of laws and not men, Kerry thought wryly, could not see Bannon’s face. Yet he was here to do his job, trembling with cold, and Kerry could not help but feel sympathy and a measure of admiration.

“. . . do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States . . .”

The outgoing president watched from Kerry’s left, gray and worn, a cautionary portrait of the burdens awaiting him. Yet there were at least two others nearby who already hoped to take Kerry’s place: his old antagonist from the Senate, Republican Majority Leader Macdonald Gage; and Senator Chad Palmer, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a second Republican whose rivalry with Gage and friendship with Kerry did not disguise his cheerful conviction that he would be a far better president than either. Kerry wondered which man the Chief Justice was hoping would depose him four years hence, and whether Bannon would live that long.

“. . . and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Firmly, as though to override the old man’s hesitance, Kerry completed the oath.

At that wondrous instant, the summit of two years of striving and resolve, Kerry Francis Kilcannon became President of the United States.

A rough celebratory chorus rose from below. Mustering a faint smile, Bannon shook his hand.

“Congratulations,” the Chief Justice murmured and then, after a moment’s pause, he added the words “Mr. President.”

At 12:31, both sobered and elated by the challenge await- ing him, President Kerry Kilcannon concluded his inaugural address.

There was a deep momentary quiet and then a rising swell of applause, long and sustained and, to Kerry, reassuring. Turning to those nearest, he looked first toward Lara Costello. Instead, he found himself staring at Chief Justice Bannon.

Bannon raised his hand, seeming to reach out to him, a red flush staining his cheeks. One side of his face twitched, and then his eyes rolled back into his head. Knees buckling, the Chief Justice slowly collapsed.

Before Kerry could react, three Secret Service agents surrounded the new president, uncertain of what they had seen. The crowd below stilled; from those closer at hand came cries of shock and confusion.

“He’s had a stroke,” Kerry said quickly. “I’m fine.”

After a moment, they released his arms, clearing the small crush of onlookers surrounding the fallen Chief Justice. Senator Chad Palmer had already turned Bannon over and begun mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Kneeling beside them, Kerry watched Palmer’s white-blond head press against the Chief Justice’s ashen face. Chad’s cheeks trembled with the effort to force air down a dead man’s throat.

Turning at last, Palmer murmured to Kerry, “I think he’s gone.”

As ever in the presence of death, Kerry experienced a frisson of horror and pity. Chad touched his arm. “They’ll need to see you, Mr. President. To know that you’re all right.”

Belatedly, Kerry nodded. He stood, turning, and saw his mother and Lara, their stunned expressions mirroring his own. Only then did he register what Chad Palmer, whose former appellation for Kerry was “pal,” had called him.

At once, Kerry felt the weight of his new responsibilities, both substantive and symbolic. He had asked the country to look to him, and this was no time to falter.

Kerry stepped back to the podium, glancing back as paramedics bore the Chief Justice to an ambulance. The crowd below milled in confusion.

Gazing out, Kerry paused, restoring his own equanimity. Time seemed to stop for him. It was a trick he had learned before addressing a jury and, even now, it served.

Above the confusion, Kerry’s voice rang out. “The Chief Justice,” he announced, “has collapsed, and is on his way to the hospital.”

His words carried through the wintry air to the far edge of the crowd. “I ask for a moment of quiet,” he continued, “and for your prayers for Chief Justice Bannon.”

Stillness fell, a respectful silence.

But there would be little time, Kerry realized, to reflect on Roger Bannon’s passing. The first days of his administration had changed abruptly, and their defining moment was already ordained: his submission to the Senate of a new Chief Justice who, if confirmed, might transform the Court. The ways in which this would change his own life—and that of others here, and elsewhere—was not yet within his contemplation.

Two

On a bleak, drizzly afternoon, typical of San Francisco in January, Sarah Dash braced herself for another confrontation.

It was abortion day and, despite the weather, demonstrators ringed the converted Victorian which served as the Bay Area Women’s Clinic. Sarah monitored them from its porch, ignoring the dampness of her dark, curly hair, her grave brown eyes calm yet resolute. But beneath this facade, she was tense. This was the first test of the new court order she had obtained, over bitter opposition from pro-life attorneys, to protect access to the clinic. Though, at twenty-nine, Sarah had been a lawyer for less than five years, her job was to enforce the order.

Today, she guessed, there were at least two hundred. Most were peaceful. Some knelt on the sidewalks in prayer. Others carried placards bearing pictures of bloody fetuses or calling abortion murder. With a few of the regulars—the graying priest who engaged Sarah in gentle argument, the grandmother who offered her homemade cookies—Sarah had formed a relationship which was, despite yawning differences in social outlook, based on mutual respect. But the militant wing of the Christian Commitment, the ones who called her “baby-killer,” filled her with unease.

Almost always, they were men—often single and in their twenties, Sarah had learned—and their aim was to quash abortion through fear and shame. For weeks they had accosted anyone who came: first the doctors and nurses who arrived to work—whom they addressed by name, demanding that they “wash the blood off their hands,” then the women who wanted their services. Before Sarah had gone to court, the militants had effectively shut the clinic down.

Now Sarah’s mandate was clear: to ensure that any woman brave or desperate enough to come for an abortion could have one. But the only access to the clinic was a concrete walk from the sidewalk to the porch where Sarah stood. The court’s zone of protection—a five foot bubble around each patient—would permit the demonstrators to surround the patient until she reached the porch. To combat this gauntlet, Sarah had designed a system: once a patient called, setting a time for arrival, the clinic sent out a volunteer in a bright orange vest to escort her. All Sarah could do now was hope it worked.

As Sarah surveyed the crowd, she noticed a disturbing number of new faces, men whom she had not seen here before. Their presence, she guessed, was yet another tactic of the Christian Commitment: to use fresh recruits who could claim that the court order did not cover them. But a spate of anti-abortion violence—the murder of a doctor in Buffalo, three more killings at a clinic in Boston—had caused her to look out for strangers more troubled, and more dangerous, than even the Commitment might suspect. It was not the kind of judgment for which her training had prepared her.

Until her involvement with the clinic, the path of Sarah’s career had been smooth and without controversy: a scholarship to Stanford; an editorship on the law journal at Yale; a much sought-after clerkship with one of the most respected female jurists in the country, Caroline Masters of the United States Court of Appeals. Her associateship at Kenyon & Walker, a four-hundred-lawyer firm with a roster of corporate clients and a reputation for excellence, was both a logical progression and, perhaps, a first step toward a loftier ambition—to be, like Caroline Masters, a federal judge. And the only volunteer activity her schedule allowed—enrolling in the firm’s pro bono program—was encouraged by the partners, at least in theory, as an act of social responsibility.

But after Sarah had taken the Christian Commitment to court, she had felt a clear, if subtle, change. It was one thing for Kenyon & Walker to represent a clinic whose principal service was birth control; another when gratis representation crossed over into abortion, let alone an area this dangerous and inflammatory, and which also had decreased measurably the time Sarah spent on paying clients. The Commitment was formidable: its lawyers were the pro-life movement’s most experienced; its public spokespeople the most persuasive; its militant wing—as only pro-choice activists and women in need of an abortion truly understood—the most obstructionist and intimidating.

Despite her success in court, there were rumors that the managing partner was looking for a way to end her involvement. Part of Sarah resented this intrusion; another part, which she admired less, conceded that this might be an act of mercy. Sometimes one’s best decisions were made by someone else.

But today’s decisions were hers: how best to protect the women who came here; whether to call the police for help. The first patient was due in fifteen minutes.

Scanning the crowd, Sarah noticed a young woman watching her from across the street.

She was a girl, really, with short red hair and a waiflike slimness. But despite the flowered dress she wore, Sarah noticed, her belly had begun to show. Immobile, the girl gazed at the clinic as though it were a thousand miles away.

Two weeks ago, before the court order, Sarah had seen the same girl.

The clinic had been ringed with demonstrators, blocking access. For some moments, as now, the girl had not moved. Then, as though panicked, she had turned abruptly, and hurried away.

This time she remained.

For perhaps five minutes she stood rooted to the sidewalk. Bowing her head, she seemed to pray. Then she started across the street, toward the clinic.

Turning sideways, she entered the crush of demonstrators, eyes averted. She managed to reach the walkway before a dark-haired young man stepped in front of her.

Gently, as a brother might, the man placed both hands on the girl’s shoulders. “We can find you clothes and shelter,” he promised her, “a loving home for your baby.”

Mute, the girl shook her head. Leaving the porch, Sarah hurried toward them.

As she pushed through the bubble, the stranger turned toward her. Sarah placed a copy of the court order in his hand. “You’re violating a court order,” she said. “Let her pass, or I’ll call the police.”

The man kept his eyes on Sarah, staring at her with a puzzled half-smile which did not reach his eyes. Softly, Sarah repeated, “Let her go.”

Still silent, the man took one slow step backward.

Grasping the girl’s hand, Sarah led her past him. The chill on the back of Sarah’s neck was from more than the cold and damp. When at last they reached the clinic, the girl began crying.

Sarah guided her to a counselor’s office and sat beside her on the worn couch.

Bent forward, the girl’s frame shook with sobs. Sarah waited until the trembling stopped. But the girl remained with her face in her hands.

“How can we help you?” Sarah asked.

After a moment, the girl looked up at her.

Though her eyes were red-rimmed and swollen, her face had an unformed prettiness: snub features, rounded chin and cheekbones, a pale, fresh complexion lightly dusted with freckles, and, somewhat startling, blue irises which glinted with volatility. Except for the eyes, Sarah reflected much later, she had looked like a cheerleader in trouble, not a human lightning rod.

“I need an abortion,” she said.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

"I, Kerry Francis Kilcannon . . ."

In a high clear voice, carrying a trace of Irish lilt, Kerry Kilcannon repeated the historic phrases intoned by Chief Justice Roger Bannon.

The two men faced each other on the patio which fronted the west side of the Capitol, surrounded by guests and officeholders and watched from greater distances by thousands of well-wishers who covered the grounds below. The noonday was bright but chill; a heavy snow had fallen overnight, and the mist of Bannon's words hung in the air between them. Though Kerry wore the traditional morning coat, those around him huddled with their collars up and hands shoved in the pockets of much heavier coats. Protected only by his traditional robe, the Chief Justice looked bloodless, an old man who shivered in the cold, heightening the contrast with Kerry Kilcannon.

Kerry was forty-two, and his slight frame and thatch of chestnut hair made him seem startlingly young for the office. At his moment of accession, both humbling and exalting, the three people he loved most stood near: his mother, Mary Kilcannon; Clayton Slade, his closest friend and the new Chief of Staff; and his fiancée, Lara Costello, a broadcast journalist who enhanced the aura of youth and vitality which was central to Kerry's appeal. "When Kerry Kilcannon enters a room," a commentator had observed, "he's in Technicolor, and everyone else is in black-and-white."

Despite that, Kerry knew with regret, he came to the presidency a divisive figure. His election last November had been bitter and close: only at dawn of the next morning, when the final count in California went narrowly to Kerry, had Americans known who would lead them.Few, Kerry supposed, were more appalled than Chief Justice Roger Bannon.

It was an open secret that, at seventy-nine, Bannon had long wished to retire: for eight years under Kerry's Democratic predecessor, the Chief Justice had presided grimly over a sharply divided Court, growing so pale and desiccated that he came, in Kerry's mind, to resemble parchment. Seemingly all that had sustained him was the wish for a Republican president to appoint his successor, helping maintain Bannon's conservative legacy; in a rare moment of incaution, conveyed to the press, Bannon had opined at a dinner party that Kerry was "ruthless, intemperate, and qualified only to ruin the Court." The inaugural's crowning irony was that the Chief Justice was here, obliged by office to effect the transfer of power to another Democrat, this one the embodiment of all Bannon loathed. Whoever imagined that ours was a government of laws and not men, Kerry thought wryly, could not see Bannon's face. Yet he was here to do his job, trembling with cold, and Kerry could not help but feel sympathy and a measure of admiration.

". . . do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States . . ."

The outgoing president watched from Kerry's left, gray and worn, a cautionary portrait of the burdens awaiting him. Yet there were at least two others nearby who already hoped to take Kerry's place: his old antagonist from the Senate, Republican Majority Leader Macdonald Gage; and Senator Chad Palmer, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a second Republican whose rivalry with Gage and friendship with Kerry did not disguise his cheerful conviction that he would be a far better president than either. Kerry wondered which man the Chief Justice was hoping would depose him four years hence, and whether Bannon would live that long.

". . . and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Firmly, as though to override the old man's hesitance, Kerry completed the oath.

At that wondrous instant, the summit of two years of striving and resolve, Kerry Francis Kilcannon became President of the United States.

A rough celebratory chorus rose from below. Mustering a faint smile, Bannon shook his hand.

"Congratulations," the Chief Justice murmured and then, after a moment's pause, he added the words "Mr. President."

At 12:31, both sobered and elated by the challenge awaiting him, President Kerry Kilcannon concluded his inaugural address.

There was a deep momentary quiet and then a rising swell of applause, long and sustained and, to Kerry, reassuring. Turning to those nearest, he looked first toward Lara Costello. Instead, he found himself staring at Chief Justice Bannon.

Bannon raised his hand, seeming to reach out to him, a red flush staining his cheeks. One side of his face twitched, and then his eyes rolled back into his head. Knees buckling, the Chief Justice slowly collapsed.

Before Kerry could react, three Secret Service agents surrounded the new President, uncertain of what they had seen. The crowd below stilled; from those closer at hand came cries of shock and confusion.

"He's had a stroke," Kerry said quickly. "I'm fine."

After a moment, they released his arms, clearing the small crush of onlookers surrounding the fallen Chief Justice. Senator Chad Palmer had already turned Bannon over and begun mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Kneeling beside them, Kerry watched Palmer's white-blond head press against the Chief Justice's ashen face. Chad's cheeks trembled with the effort to force air down a dead man's throat.

Turning at last, Palmer murmured to Kerry, "I think he's gone."

As ever in the presence of death, Kerry experienced a frisson of horror and pity. Chad touched his arm. "They'll need to see you, Mr. President. To know that you're all right."

Belatedly, Kerry nodded. He stood, turning, and saw his mother and Lara, their stunned expressions mirroring his own. Only then did he register what Chad Palmer, whose former appellation for Kerry was "pal," had called him.

At once, Kerry felt the weight of his new responsibilities, both substantive and symbolic. He had asked the country to look to him, and this was no time to falter.

Kerry stepped back to the podium, glancing back as paramedics bore the Chief Justice to an ambulance. The crowd below milled in confusion.

Gazing out, Kerry paused, restoring his own equanimity. Time seemed to stop for him. It was a trick he had learned before addressing a jury and, even now, it served.

Above the confusion, Kerry's voice rang out. "The Chief Justice," he announced, "has collapsed, and is on his way to the hospital."

His words carried through the wintry air to the far edge of the crowd. "I ask for a moment of quiet," he continued, "and for your prayers for Chief Justice Bannon."

Stillness fell, a respectful silence.

But there would be little time, Kerry realized, to reflect on Roger Bannon's passing. The first days of his administration had changed abruptly, and their defining moment was already ordained: his submission to the Senate of a new Chief Justice who, if confirmed, might transform the Court. The ways in which this would change his own life--and that of others here, and elsewhere--was not yet within his contemplation.


From the Hardcover edition.
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2003

    Pro-Choice Conservative View

    This is my first Patterson book, so I have no history of his work to bias my opinion. I am a Republican, but I am also pro-Choice, so I believe I can provide a unique insight. The book has a strong liberal bias. Even the liberal policies of the book with which I agree made me wince in their disparate treatment toward traditional conservative values. The ¿good guys¿ were liberals and Democrats, while conservatives and Republicans were portrayed as evil, save one ¿Maverick¿ Republican who tilted strongly liberal. I have a certain animosity for the theocratic wing of the conservative movement, and I still found the book uncomfortable. The twists and turns that change the political field are fascinating, and I found myself less at odds with the author in the abortion segment - probably because am pro-choice. The author sets a stage where political forces deftly juxtapose to create unusual obstacles for a new President. The political intrigue is suitable for a real political junkie. The environment was no less convoluted than the California Recall! There were at least two occasions when conservatives (one a legislator, the other a Supreme Court justice) referred to our form of government as a 'democracy.' NO respectable conservative would refer to the United States as anything but a 'representative republic.' It was obvious this book was not subject to conservative review. It was also interesting that Republicans were engaging in political obstruction to placate special interests. Clearly, Democrats typically fill that political mold. With the exception of the errors in accuracy, and the serious liberal bend, I finished the book without noticing any glaring holes. This was an interesting and complex scenario, and things went into place and resolved logically. I listened to the book on CD, and the reader was fabulous!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2002

    Wonderful read!

    This is one of the best books I have ever read. The characters are well developed and interesting. Patterson presents both sides of an extremely volatile issue with clarity and compassion. I also enjoyed the intertwining plot lines and legal arguments. Can't wait for the next one!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2002

    Protect and Defend

    This is high class stuff. Compelling, informative,accurate and brillantly written. I can certainly recommend this first class read to anyone. Thanks RNP for producing such a fine piece of work which I could not put down. I don't normally re-read books, but I will certainly make an exception for this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2002

    My new favorite book

    This book is wonderful. I love the way it brings you in and challenges your own views. This book takes religion and politics and inter-twines them together. The characters come to life. I enjoyed every word.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2002

    Well written but VERY biased.

    I have read most of Richard North Patterson's books and enjoyed them greatly. This one is equally as well written but I can't get past the obvious pro-choice slant, to the point where I can't finish the book. That he voices his opinions is fine, but I feel as though I have been beaten over the head by his villification of the pro-life movement. I feel also that I have been misled, as the previous Kerry Kilcannon book did not have such an obvious slant.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2002

    Thought-provoking

    I bought this book at the station to read on a 3 hour train ride: I thought it'd be an easy read that I could then leave on the train when I arrived. Instead, I was so completely caught up in the story and the presentation of the different facets of the abortion debate, that I raced to the end and have since re-read it more slowly at home. I thought it was very even-handed, showing that a solution for one person is NOT a solution for another person and presenting different lines of thinking and constantly raising new questions. The political and government parts of the story were disgusting of course but did give some grounds for hope - perhaps one can be a politician and still have some humanity left. I really enjoyed the book and have lent it to several people in hopes of stimulating discussions in the future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2001

    By far the best of 2001!

    I've read lots of books this year, but nothing compares to Protect and Defend. Although abortion is at the core of the story, no matter where you stand on the issue, you'll give thought to your beliefs. If the Senate really operates the way it's described in this book, I'm not sure the United States way of government is the way to go. A great lessen in government and Supreme Court practice.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2001

    Recommend this book.

    Richard North Patterson still remains one of my favorite authors even though I feel this book was a little too predictable with all those 'greedy' Republicans being supported by the 'noncompassionate, narrow minded' pro-lifers. The book was a little too one-sided for me. But even so, I still couldn't put the book down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2001

    I guess we know where Mr. Patterson's stands on abortion rights.

    While this book was very well written, it troubled me that the author portrayed ALL Democrats as pro-choice and ALL Republicans as pro-life. He made Republicans seem callous and rigid, while making Democrats seem caring and flexible. It was NOT a fair portrayal of either. I found it very disturbing....and I'M a Democrat. I'm also Pro-life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2001

    A Disappointing Read

    Not so much a political thriller as a 'rah, rah' for Abortion Rights. Comes off as trite and very manipulative. I prefer Margaret Truman...a true political thriller author, with no axe to grind. I expected more from Patterson.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2001

    Breathes Life Into Complex Legal Hypotheticals

    A new president of the United States takes office after a close election victory. Early in his term, he faces the opportunity to make a key appointment. Circumstances arise in a perverse way to make what would normally be a routine decision into a very tricky and challenging one for all involved. Every law student is familiar with the Socratic technique of the professor starting with one set of facts, and then beginning to alter them to see how it affects the result. By testing a full range of situations, the true legal principles begin to emerge. Protect and Defend does the best job I have ever seen of taking this method and using it to develop complex questions in a novel. Anyone who likes reading about the law will enjoy this aspect of the book. Unlike most books about legal issues, this one also fully develops many characters. As I read the book, I was also reminded of the excitement I felt as I read Advise and Consent. The reason for this is that you (if you are like me) will probably identify with several of the characters and care about what happens to them and to the country, as you care about others and the country in real life. The primary focus of this book is on abortion as a legal and political issue. Most people do not like to read about this subject, but this book is vastly more interesting than most by shedding new light on the many complex perspectives that come into play. On the other hand, the most gross details of abortion are fully exposed here, and will upset many readers. Constructively, the book fairly and positively portrays many ranges of pro-choice opinion. Unfortunately, those who come to a pro-life point of view from religious or moral scruples make out very poorly here. Typically, they are portrayed in an unfavorable light. This is a serious weakness of the book. Had it been more balanced in its portrayal of the two viewpoints, Protect and Defend could have been a landmark novel about how America is dealing with abortion today. If you are pro-life, you may find this book offensive. For you, this could be a one-star book. Mr. Patterson points out that he sought help from pro-life advocates, and received very little. He notes that this probably affected the quality of his story. If he had not provided that explanation, I would have graded the book down at least one more star. The legal hypotheticals usually come up in the context of courtroom examinations, and are very interesting. They certainly added to my thinking and understanding. I suspect that they will to yours too. The book also presents a cautious case for a possible way out of the political cannibalism that affects both major parties, so that few candidates for important offices are 'pure' enough to hold them. I encourage you to be sure that you understand all of the perspectives involved in abortion. I suspect that most of us (and certainly me) have views that are uninformed in many ways. I hope that pro-life advocates will take the time to further inform Mr. Patterson and that he will write another fine book on this subject in the future. That would be a benefit to us all. Look at all dimensions of important issues before drawing your conclusions. Then check your thinking before acting. Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2012

    Anonymous

    This was the most gripping, compelling, riveting, sensational book I have ever read. It became impossible to put down. I would recommend having a dictionary nearby. There were so many words I had never heard of, much less know the meaning of. The only character that I disliked was caroline Masters. What an egotistical, over ambitious, greedy person. To give up her child over her ambitions and then to lie about it later on. I was hoping she would not get the nomination. Mr. Patterson did a wonderful job writing this book. It makes me think that maybe at one time he had been a medical doctor, or a lawyer, or a politician. It also makes me wonder, if the events in this book are realistic. Is this real life in the world of politics. Betrayal, lies, greed, distrust, enemies, misuse of power. That with one phone call, even the most powerful can be brought down. Read this book, you will enjoy it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2001

    For the First Time, Patterson Disappoints

    From the time I read his first book, I have been a huge Richard North Patterson fan. I found that he always delivered excellent writing, well-crafted stories, and suspenseful plots - that is,until now. In Protect and Defend, the writing is still first-class, but the suspense is non-existent. I didn't even finish the book, which is most unusual for me. The problem is that the book is simply a treatise on the abortion issue. There is nothing about this story that would accurately classify it as a mystery, thriller, or suspense novel. Even the descriptions of the political process, which I usually find fascinating, are rendered boring by the excrutiatingly detailed coverage of the abortion debate. If abortion fascinates you to the extent that you want to read about it for 582 pages, then you will probably love Protect and Defend - but if not, then your reaction may mirror mine. By all means, if you enjoy suspense and politics, buy any of Patterson's previous books - but skip this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2001

    Battle of the Conscience

    I can¿t remember the last time a book has stirred my emotions as the one has. Mr. Patterson¿s latest work is a heart wrenching, gut wrenching story that grabs you and doesn¿t let go. It makes you think about life, politics, difficult issues that foster difficult decisions and leaves you wondering about the human beings who shape our future. This book, the product of Mr. Patterson¿s extensive research, is an eye opener, and for me personally, a signpost for deep reflection. A novel that will not be forgotten soon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2001

    Recommended for all those considering a pro-life stance!

    In trying to deliver both sides of the abortion issue, the author's requests for interviews from the Christian Coalition were denied. However, I believe he successfully delivers both sides of the coin - prochoice and prolife, in this extremely time-appropriate novel. Those people who are prolife would do well to consider reading this book, if only to explore the potential ramifications of their position, albeit in a novel form.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2001

    Not a good read, a great read!

    As familiar as I am with Richard North Patterson, this book was a revelation. A coherent plot with sidebars galore, tightly woven into a tapestry of remarkable and educational grist for the mill, if you enjoy this genre, and fail to read this book, you are doing yourself(ves) a great injustice. President Kerry Kilcannon nominates a judge with a secret to become Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Caroline Masters, the jurist he selects has a secret that if made public, could jeopardize her chances for nomination to the country's highest court. Yet, others have secrets too, and the suspense builds as it appears that everyone, including the President has vestiges of skeletons in their closets. The unravelling and then retying of the yarns making up each of the subplots of this book is nothing less than spectacular. The only downside to this thoroughly enjoyable book is that if you are not careful, you'll read it too fast: from first page to last, it is one of the best books of its type I have read in a long long time. Characterizations are up there with those of Scott Turow. I just can't provide enough encomiums about this novel. Regardless of what side of the abortion issue you are on...oh, did I mention that this is one of the major subplots?, if you have a moderately open mind you'll find this book rewarding and pause for some deep thought. A first rate novel by a first rate novelist.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Exciting political thriller

    A fifteen-year-old girl is pregnant carrying a brain-damaged fetus. She wants to abort her child, but the recently enacted federal law requires parental permission for a minor to obtain a late stage abortion. Her devout pro-life parents will never agree to the abortion. If the child comes to term, a c-section is required that might leave the teen sterile. Lawyer Sara Dash accepts Mary Ann's case in an attempt to prove the law is unconstitutional and the court should repeal the congressional law. <P>Kerry Kilcannon has just been sworn into office as president. One of his first decisions is to nominate the Honorable Caroline Clark Masters as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Sarah was once Caroline's law clerk and each hold the other in high regard. If Sarah takes the case on appeal, Caroline will sit on the bench, jeopardizing her chance to become Chief Justice because she will vote for the abortion. Conservatives will then have the ammunition to defeat her nomination. The newly elected President faces his first test in office because he is determined that Caroline will be the next Chief Justice. <P> In a land where law and politics go hand in hand, there is a heroic president, a fine Chief Justice nominee, and an idealistic lawyer battling to see justice occurs. The cast on both sides of the complex abortion issue seems very believable because their motives appear genuine and honorable. This is what makes Richard North Patterson's novel an exciting, impossible to put down political thriller. <P>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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