Book 61: Supreme Justice


"The next time he watched, Reeder concentrated on the shooter. As the man turned and blasted Venter, he was calm, not panicky, and took time to set his feet and aim. Hell, the shooter even slowly exhaled before he fired. This wasn't a stickup artist reacting to movement, freaking, and shooting. No."

Dates read: June 12-13, 2016

Rating: 4/10

When you spend time studying the Supreme Court, you grow a fondness for its members. Even the ones you disagree with. The way their personalities come through in their writing: Scalia's fierce intelligence and flair for drama, Ginsberg's incisive mind and iron will. You feel like you know them a little bit. So when they pass away, there's a sense of loss even if you're okay with that vote being gone on a personal level. I was gutted when I heard about Scalia dying even though I couldn't be farther from him, politically speaking.

There's never been a single successful Supreme Court assassination. I wonder why. Not that I think there should be, of course, but the executive and legislative branch don't seem to have any immunity. Even the lower levels of the court system see judges murdered. But not the nine. Not so far. Until a near future time in Max Allan Collins' Supreme Justice, anyways. Then suddenly there is not just one justice killed, but two. Two conservative justices, during the term of a Democratic president.

Joseph Reeder, a retired Secret Service agent, has earned the scorn of the law enforcement community for two reasons: his devotion to techniques of body and facial language reading to investigate crimes (earning him the nickname "Peep", which is never really satisfactorily explained) and the fact that when he took a bullet in an assassination attempt against a very conservative president, he was vocal about his regret for doing so, since Reeder is himself a liberal and believes that the country would have been better off without the continued leadership of that president. But when Gabe Sloan, one of Reeder's closest friends and godfather to his daughter, is named head of the task force investigating the assassinations, Reeder is drawn back into the fold to help. He's paired with Patti Rogers of the FBI, Sloan's usual partner, and the two try to figure each other out as they also try to solve the crime.

Perhaps I'd have been less harsh on this had I not just read an unspectacular thriller two books ago. While I enjoyed The Barkeep more than I thought I would, it also represented a break from a long stretch of literary fiction and high-intensity non-fiction that made it a nice diversion and a chance to get outside my usual box a little. Supreme Justice, coming so close in time, was more irritating than anything else. The characters are pure tropes, plot developments are telegraphed miles away (when Reeder's daughter is introduced early, it's eye-rollingly obvious that she is going to be put into peril at some later point in the book), and Collins is heavy-handed enough with his political statements that even though I share most of the expressed philosophy, I was over it pretty quickly. The writing isn't especially elegant or expressive. There's just not much here in the way of reasons to recommend it, so I'll recommend that you seek your thrillers elsewhere.

Tell me, blog friends...have you ever read Supreme Court decisions? Do you have a favorite justice?

One year ago, I was reading: Creative Mythology

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