Saturday, October 26, 2019

Book Reviews: Guilty Minds

Guilty Minds
by Joseph Finder
This thriller novel was a good comfort read. I knew what to expect and it delivered. Joseph Finder is an author whom I'm starting to really appreciate, as previously detailed here and here. This is a later installment in a series, but it stands on its own. You don't need to have read the previous books to enjoy this one.

There are bits and pieces of back story doled out at certain places in the novel but Finder never allows this to interfere with the plot. There aren't pages and pages detailed what happened in prior books. 

The story is written in first person which is often, but not necessarily a hint that the storyteller survives. This story kept the reader up in the air about things as long as possible. So that was good. This book was just under 400 pages and a pretty quick read. 

The only time I thought the story pace slowed was in a few places where Finder demonstrated that he had done his research and then some on the relevant laws, technologies, and tactics which apply in the legal netherworld which he describes. All of that is important for a sense of realism but once or twice I caught myself wanting to get back to the next piece of excitement in the story.

Nick Heller is a Boston based private investigator/intelligence operative. He also happens to be former Special Forces. Nick makes a decent living helping people find the truth of matters, or occasionally helping people hide legal things they'd rather not have made public.

There is a slight chance that Nick might be working thru some guilt engendered by some of his actions during his military service or perhaps family guilt caused by having an amoral father imprisoned for white collar crimes. I'd have to read the other books in the series to see if that's truly the case. 

In any event although Nick is a tall fellow capable of great mayhem he does his best to avoid violence and follow the law. Nick has no intention of doing time like his Dad.

Nick is summoned to Washington D.C. to meet with the legendary Gideon Parnell (think Vernon Jordan), a lawyer, businessman and a general fixer for the nation's political and economic elite. 

Gideon goes to great lengths to hide Nick's presence in his firm, even from other partners. At first Gideon doesn't even want to tell Nick what this is about. After an annoyed Nick points out his well known reputation for probity and reticence and threatens to leave, a reluctant Gideon comes clean.

It seems that the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Jeremiah Claflin, a friend and protege of Gideon's, has about 48 hours before a sleazy tabloid (Slander Sheet) accuses him of having an affair with a call girl, as payment in kind for certain favorable rulings for corporate buddies. This would destroy Jeremiah's career. Jeremiah would have to resign. Jeremiah swears that he didn't have sex with the call girl, though some of her claims appear compelling on the surface. Nick agrees to look into the matter though he is worried by Jeremiah's claim to have proof of his innocence that he can't share publicly.

Nick begins his investigation. But things take a wrong turn from almost the start. Although it's child's play for Nick to discredit Slander Sheet's expose, that's not even the biggest problem. Before long Nick learns that he's going to need every skill and advantage he has, including his father's help, in order to stay alive and discover the truth. The people that Nick is up against play for keeps. And that very much includes Nick's family or Mandy Seeger, the Slander Sheet journalist who becomes an ally and more to Nick.
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