When the head of the Bureau of Judicial Conduct, Michael Geismar, assigned Lacy Stoltz and Hugo Hatch to investigate a corrupt judge, none of them had any idea about what they were getting into. Quickly, the situation turned treacherous and deadly. Normally, they only had subpoena power and had no involvement in law enforcement, since that fell under the jurisdiction of the FBI, but this case had arms and legs that reached out beyond the justice department endangering all involved.
A Florida Judge, Claudia McDover, who appeared to be untarnished by scandal, was being accused of corruption involving, among other things, an Indian casino, real estate, murder, drugs, payoffs, bribery, and money laundering, through her supposed involvement with a shadowy group, a group known in legends as the Coast Mafia.
As their investigation began, Hugo and Lacy met a lawyer who used an assumed name, Greg Myers. He told them that there was someone sitting on death row wrongfully accused of a double murder and there was a corrupt judge involved. Using the carrot and stick approach, he offered just enough information for them to believe there was a reason to pursue Judge McDover. Then he offered more, if they would agree not to involve the FBI, and to take on this miscarriage of justice, he would reveal his source, a mole who could prove her guilt..
Myers told the agents that McDover was working with a criminal organization that secretly paid her off so that her rulings favored their positions. Myers said his contact, whom he did not know, was in touch with an intermediary who dealt directly with the whistle blower, the person who could provide evidence against the judge. He re-emphasized their need for secrecy because the organization that was controlling the Judge’s behavior was not only criminal it was highly dangerous. He himself moved around frequently to prevent any retaliation against him.
The story spread out in many directions and several characters were introduced creating diversions which were sometimes confusing. As the search for proof to indict the Judge developed, and the intrigue grew deeper and deeper, violence, romance, sex, intrigue, corruption and a mysterious mob moved all the players around. Although, at times, the tale seemed pretty predictable, the narrative was always interesting as the author drew the reader in, little by little, making the reader wonder how all of the loose ends would tie together successfully. The massive criminal scheme unraveled, bit by bit, and sometimes the explanations seemed a bit thin and the story seemed to ramble. It suddenly seemed to come to its conclusion, almost magically, and the mysteries were resolved. The reader will have to decide if all the questions were answered in a satisfying way.
This novel has all the elements necessary for a made for TV movie or a movie for the big screen. The author exposes all sorts of corruption in organized crime, banks, casinos and our own judicial system. It is obvious that his research is extensive as he exposes the greed which motivates people who lack a moral compass and the extent to which some will go to feather their own nests regardless of the cost or consequences to others.
Cassandra Campbell is an excellent narrator, but in this book, her voice often sounded too sultry for the part she was portraying.