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JUSTICE DOWN by Ian Greenham


by Ian Greenham

Publisher: Manuscript

In this whodunit, a Supreme Court justice is found dead in his study, shot through the head. Unfortunately, a lot of people wanted him gone.

Greenham (The Fisherman’s Stamp, 2012) doesn’t try for anything particularly visionary in this solid, well-paced thriller. But that’s fine: There’s enough in his complex, intelligent plot to grab and hold readers’ attention. Fans of Law & Order will appreciate how detectives Chambeau and Mignelli parse the crime scene with rapid-fire questioning of witnesses—Justice King’s wife and the U.S. Marshalls hired to protect him—and how they methodically widen their circle of inquiry. As it turns out, the question of who would want to murder a Supreme Court justice is easy to answer: nearly everyone. King, a staunch conservative, alienated his children and made few friends on or off the bench during his long career. Greenham cleverly weaves in references to real, lightning-rod decisions related to Citizens United, Heller v. District of Columbia, the Defense of Marriage Act and the right to habeas corpus for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, each demonstrating the judge’s inflexible ideology, which he also applied to the personal lives of his daughter and two sons. Could one of them have dispatched the hated patriarch and cashed in on an inheritance in one quick blow? But then there’s also the maid who was deported, the mysterious piano player, the alienated law clerk and many others under the umbrella of suspicion. Greenham allows the leads to develop in a convincingly real-time way, with Chambeau and Mignelli’s interrogation style underscoring their no-stone-unturned approach; readers will eagerly try to stay one step ahead of the investigation. There’s nothing remarkable about Greenham’s prose—he doesn’t achieve that breathless tension that propels readers through the best of the genre—but he capably delivers the goods.

Entertaining and topical; a smart, satisfying read.