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The Tenth Justice Mass Market Paperback – August 25, 2009
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"Meet the next John Grisham." -- MIAMI HERALD
"Meltzer has earned the right to belly up to the bar with John Grisham, Scott Turow, and David Baldacci." -- PEOPLE
From the Back Cover
Landing a prestigious position as a Supreme Court clerk fresh out of Yale Law, Ben Addison is on the ultra-fast track to success—until he inadvertently shares a classified secret with the wrong listener. And now the anonymous blackmailer who made a killing with Ben's information is demanding more. Guilty of a criminal act, his golden future suddenly in jeopardy, Ben turns for help to his roommates—three close friends from childhood, each strategically placed near the seats of Washington power—and to his beautiful, whip-smart fellow clerk, Lisa Schulman.
But trust is a dangerous commodity in the nation's capital. And when lives, careers, and power are at stake, loyalties can shatter like glass . . . and betrayals can be lethal.
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The premise of the novel immediately drew me in -- new Supreme Court law clerk, Ben Addison, violates his oath by telling a virtual stranger the outcome of a controversial case involving major corporations a few days prior to the announcement by the justices. The stranger, "Rick Fagan," has befriended Ben by telling him he is a former clerk of the same justice Ben is working for -- Fagan knows many details that make his story plausable and he plays on Ben's natural insecurities in his new environment. Ofcourse, Rick Fagan is not whom he pretends to be, and Ben's reveal results in the principals in the case buying huge numbers of shares of the stocks of both companies prior to the announcement the following Monday. A leak inside the court is immediately suspected. Ben is desperate to keep his job, and knowing that he would be fired immediately if he went to the judge for whom he clerks, he hopes to ride out the situation. Ben, his three childhood friends who now share a house in D.C., and Lisa Marie Schulman, his fellow law clerk, then go on the proverbial rollercoaster ride of action and suspense, which is generally entertaining with some reservations.
The problem is...well, there is just so much darned talking, and talking, and talking, particularly among the roomies, that the action frequently stalls. There are long passages where little happens to move the plot forward, as Meltzer seemingly was attempting to make each of Ben's friends into unique individuals: Ober, the group clown, was the only real success in my opinion. There was also endless banter, mainly of a sexual nature, between Ben and Lisa, both within and outside the office. Also problematic are the ethical violations that Ben has his friends commit in an effort to protect his behind and uncover the identity of Fagan -- Ober's writing a death threat against the senator for whom he works, under "Fagan's" name, is the most extreme. In addition, Meltzer's Ben never shouts or hisses his frustration -- he screams, even in public places. When we finally reach the surpise ending, it is scared in my opinon by an "endless" Epilogue that consists of a conversation between Ben and Lisa where they attempt to set the boundaries of their romantic relationship. It is my experience that Epilogues are generally short and to the point, unless something pertinent to the plot is going to be revealed as a shocker at the last moment.
I am interested in finding out if Meltzer's writing improves in his later works. If I discover that it does, I may be tempted to read further, but if more recent books contain the same issues that bog down "The Tenth Justice," I will probably stick to "Decoded."
I found no major errors in the Kindle edition and appreciate that the cover of the book was included, not just the title page.
Based on his other books I'd have to say Mr. Meltzer has grown a lot as a writer.