In this mystery, a Supreme Court justice suddenly dies days before the court is expected to rule on a Florida presidential election recount.
Melissa “Mel” McGinty of the Supreme Court Police Force is making her nighttime rounds when she discovers the body of Justice Oliver Wendell Oglethorpe on the floor of the court’s gym. She calls her boss, Lt. Frank Fort, who arrives with two FBI agents. Mel is told to stay out of the investigation; instead, she calls a meeting of the Amazon Detective Agency, an eclectic group of women who possess an assortment of skills from computer hacking to fortunetelling. She also consults her “sometimes live-in boyfriend,” Mike Mahoney, a recently retired Arlington, Virginia, police officer. Oglethorpe, one of two African-American judges on the court, was appointed by current President Richard Fett, which gave Fett an all-important fifth conservative vote on the bench. But after the death of Oglethorpe’s wife, the justice seemed to experience a political change of heart on many matters. One of them may have been the decision on the Florida recount. And there are other groups whose causes could be served by Oglethorpe’s death, as well as an anonymous white supremacist making noise online. There are plenty of potential suspects for readers to consider in Oster’s (The Hacker Chronicles, 2017, etc.) breezy, often humorous mystery. Narrator Mel, who was raised by a detective dad and schooled by old private-eye flicks, is a smart and delightfully persistent gumshoe who has the potential to effectively carry her own series. Oster makes effective use of his many years of experience as a journalist, which included a decade covering the Supreme Court for venues such as the National Law Journal, for which he was editor-in-chief, and Bloomberg News. His occasional, knowledgeable forays into serious issues before the bench (including oil pipelines, abortion, and gun control, among others) add heft to what’s otherwise a relatively light detective novel. The story’s final twist is most satisfying.
An enjoyable diversion with a little something extra for political junkies and followers of the Supreme Court.