Based on Murder One and the title of The Jury Master I was expecting another legal mystery. To my disappointment The Jury Master is actually a thriller that happens to feature a lawyer. Even had I read the blurbs on the paperback, which I did not following customary practice, I would have thought it was a legal mystery. To me the title is misleading.
While Sloane certainly is a Jury Master the book has little to do with him being a lawyer.
The opening of the book does show why he is called the Jury Master. Sloane has a rare, almost mystical, talent for connecting with and persuading juries. His closing address wins a case for the defendants in a wrongful death suit. He has regrets over his success.
I was hoping I would learn more about his mastery of juries. Instead, the book veered into a thriller.
Joe Branick, special assistant to the President of the United States, dies in a park in West Virginia. For reasons Sloane cannot fathom Branick, the day he died, was trying to contact Sloane.
Charles Town, West Virginia detective, Tom Molia known to all as “Mole”, balks at the swift effort to have Branick’s death declared a suicide. He is uneasy partly because a young policeman responding to the report of death has disappeared.
Rivers Jones from the Federal Department of Justice, acting on the personal instructions of Parker Madsen the White House Chief of Staff, takes over the investigation into Branick’s death. Mole is even more suspicious.
Finally, in rural Washington, Charles Jenkins a retired CIA operative gets a visit from Alex Hart from the Federal Government. What she brings with her shocks Jenkins.
From there the book races along at excellent thriller pace. There is the occasional need to suspend belief but nothing extreme.
There is a conspiracy at play that is also more credible than the average fictional conspiracy.
Sloane is mystified as he cannot ever recall having a connection to Branick. He does not recall ever dealing with him or working with him or even meeting him.
Aiding Sloane is his long time personal assistant, Tina. She is the assistant of a lawyer’s dreams keeping the office in order and meeting Sloane’s needs almost quicker than he tells what is to be done.
Dugoni does well in letting the reader and Sloane work out the conspiracy. It is frightenly plausible.
It was interesting to receive background on Sloane. He had orphaned at 7 by an accident and raised in foster homes. His youth had been a struggle. Joining the U.S. Marines at 17 set him on his path to success. In this book Sloane is based in San Francisco. By Murder One he is in the state of Washington.
If you are looking for a thriller with a lawyer it is a good book. If you want a legal mystery, move on to a different book. I will still characterize it as a legal mystery for the main character is a lawyer and there are elements of law in the book. (Apr. 9/14)