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"Welcome to Washington."
on April 22, 2012
Jefferson McKenna is the thirty-eight year old Solicitor General of the United States in Anthony Franze's thriller, "The Last Justice." In a shocking prologue, an unknown gunman opens fire in the Supreme Court Building and escapes; when the shooting stops, six justices are dead. This horrible day will be known as Black Wednesday.
The story picks up six months later when NYPD Detectives Chase Assad and Emma Milstein grill McKenna about the murder of his former clerk, Parker Sinclair, who was left lying on a Manhattan street with "the front of his white button-down shirt soaked in blood." The authorities wonder if there is a connection between this case and the aforementioned massacre in the nation's highest court. Meanwhile, the President of the United States has to replace the six dead justices, a potential political nightmare. As if this weren't enough of a mess, someone is attempting to frame McKenna, forcing him to go on the run with his colleague and close friend, Kate Porter. Before long, the FBI enters the mix, with Deputy Director Frank Pacini taking over the investigation, ably assisted by Detectives Assad and Milstein.
"The Last Justice" has a provocative premise and McKenna is an appealing protagonist who is astute, handsome, and has had his share of tragedy. However, the plot is too hectic, with complicated machinations pertaining to cases before the court, a stereotypical psychopathic sadist on the rampage, and McKenna constantly being bruised and battered as he fights for his life. The identity of the mastermind will be obvious to most readers in spite of the abundance of red herrings. There is little character development but plenty of action and a high body count. When the dust settles, we are left with the impression that our most prestigious jurists may have feet of clay; there is enough corruption, adultery, and slaughter to fill three books. Suffice it to say that "The Last Justice" has promise, but the author's reliance on excitement rather than depth prevents it from earning a more enthusiastic recommendation.