Once there was a time when I only read legal, political and espionage thrillers. I cut my teeth on the sharp edges of the race against time, twist backs and back stabbing plot lines. I had to stop because the reality of these book was, in fact, too real. I begin seeing crooks and spies and murderers behind every tree and in every shadow. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still love a really well written thriller now and again. Joseph Finder is one of the best writers of the genre and his latest, Judgement, a legal thriller had me captivated from the first sentence to the last.
In a departure from his long running series, Finder sets this novel primarily in the legal arena. Juliana Brody is a judge who rotates between civil and criminal cases. Currently, while dealing with a very heavy docket, the case taking up a majority of her time and attention is one dealing with a new start-up company, an employee who has been fired and who, in turn, has filed a sexual harassment case against the company. While the case is going through motions, Brody runs into a problem. This straight-laced, never does anything wrong judge has a one night stand and that one night stand miraculously becomes the newest lawyer for the very same start-up company over which Brody is presiding. Admittedly at this point I was a little incredulous but, you know, we have to have a plot and the rest of the storyline is amazing. So read on…. We soon learn that the one night stand black mailer is just a tiny pinpoint of the problems waiting for Brody if she doesn’t throw this case – and that is something she is not willing to do. As the stakes get higher, so do the threats and the thrills. Brody makes mistake after mistake that could very well cost her life and her career. Her allies are few and her enemies are mounting. It’s a race to see who will come out on top in the end – and with Finder, you never really know who what will be!
Finder is great at creating characters that are deep, flawed, realistic and relatable and he has done another fantastic job with those in Judgement. The plot, with the one exception that I mentioned, is so incredibly timely and realistic that I found myself reading between the lines in the newspaper and wondering who this story really was about. You just know it has happened or will happen! It’s too real not to be true. There is some courtroom drama if you like that in your legal thrillers, but not so much to bore you if you don’t. This is more of a cat and mouse, keep you on the run thriller with legal overtones than an actual “court room” legal tome.
If you like action packed, character driven, ripped from the headlines, heart pounding thrillers then this is the book for you!
Thank you to #Edelweiss, #DuttonBooks and #PenguinPublishingGroup for my copy of this thriller