While Justice Sleeps

Doubleday. May 2021. 384p. ISBN 9780385546577. $28.95. THRILLER
Progressive activist, nonfiction author (Our Time Is Now), and romance writer (as Selena Montgomery) Abrams ventures into thriller territory here. Avery Keene is a young law clerk for irascible, brilliant Supreme Court Justice Howard Wynn, who’s often the swing vote in big cases. When Wynn begins to act strangely in public and then slips into a coma, Avery learns he has appointed her as his legal guardian. He has also left intricate clues pointing to a conspiracy involving a case before the court: the proposed merger of a U.S. biotech company and an Indian genetics firm. Using her knowledge of chess, French philosophers, and the law, Avery and her hastily assembled cohort, which includes Wynn’s estranged son, begin to piece together the puzzle. Soon she and those she loves are in the cross-hairs of the FBI, the media, and a menacing Homeland Security agent. The language in this novel is often overly ornate, which slows down the narrative; the heroine is a little too good to be true; and some plot points are far-fetched, even for a thriller.
VERDICT Although it’s not successful as a thriller, the book’s plethora of women role models, including a chief justice, and its “inside DC” look at political skullduggery make Abrams’s novel a well-informed political and legal narrative.
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