You can take a smart lawyer out of Oklahoma, but you can’t take the Oklahoma smarts out of Ben Kincaid.
Senator (Senator!) Ben Kincaid has been freshly appointed to fill a Congressional vacancy. So he’s on hand in the Rose Garden when President Blake introduces U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Thaddeus T. Roush, his nominee to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. There follow brief laudatory remarks, polite applause and then a bombshell. “I’m gay,” says the candidate, an announcement that provokes a frantic rush to choose up sides: There are those who believe sexual preference has nothing to do with judicial performance, and there are those convinced that indeed it does. But that’s just the curtain-raiser. Judge Roush’s own press conference the following day is bloody murder, the victim a young woman, the leading suspect the judge’s partner in a seven-year-old relationship. It looks like Ben Kincaid time, though brilliant as the Oklahoma Kid is, even he’s daunted by this kind of multitasking. He must represent a beleaguered judge at his conformation hearing. He must crack a complicated murder case. And he must find a satisfactory answer to an importunate fiancée’s demand to know when, at long last, she’s going to be married.
Give Bernhardt (Capitol Murder, 2006, etc.) anything like a courtroom and he holds his own. Beyond that, it’s pot-boiling.