About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Allegiance by Kermit Roosevelt - Disliked

Allegiance by Kermit Roosevelt - My last post started a review of Allegiance by Kermit Roosevelt. I appreciated and was challenged by the part of the book that dealt with the internment of Japanese Americans during WW II. The cover and title indicated a book about Japanese Americans and to which nation they gave their allegiance. What I struggled with in the book was the other plot line.

To discuss my concerns with the book will involve spoilers. Those readers planning to read the book should consider not go further into this post.

Early in the book Cash comes to believe there is a secret conspiracy seeking to control the U.S. Supreme Court. A fellow clerk, Gene Gressman, works to persuade him that dark forces are threatening the integrity of the court.

Cash is ineptly followed and becomes engaged in a confrontation with those tailing him..

Among the greatest difficulties for writers of crime and thriller fiction is creating credible conspiracies. Roosevelt did not succeed with the conspiracy chosen for this book

He had the elements of an interesting conspiracy but it was too far from the internment theme. The conspiracy and murder in Allegiance felt grafted onto a plot about the constitutional and personal issues of internment and detracted from the real story. The conspiracy never felt right in Allegiance.

If there been a murder at the court in Allegiance that was clearly related to the questions of internment there would have been a better book.

John Grisham is talented at bringing murders directly into the issues he is addressing in his books. In The Pelican Brief Grisham successfully tackled the same elements as Allegiance. There was murder within the Supreme Court, a conspiracy and a pending Supreme Court case. The Pelican Brief saw Tulane University law student, Darby Shaw, early in the book connecting the murders of two Supreme Court Justices with the case on environmental issues coming before the Court. Her efforts to expose the conspiracy made the book a compelling read for me.

Roosevelt’s skill is in the writing about legal issues and lawyers rather than conspiracies. He does tie together the plot lines at the end of the book in a realistic way but it was too late in the book for me. Even within the book Cash expresses confusion on how the murders are related to the Japanese cases.

Grisham’s approach immediately drew me while Roosevelt left me wondering how these two stories could be connected. The motives and killers in Allegiance are mysterious for almost all the book.

Last year The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson explored law and segregation in the American South of 1946. The civil rights movement was stirring after the war but an African American refusing to take his proper place on a bus in the Deep South can still be murdered for his impertinence. The issues of segregation are developed in relation to the murder of decorated WW II veteran, Lt. Joe Howard Wilson.

Roosevelt had two good books in Allegiance that were pushed into one book and each plot suffered. He could have had a book focused on the internment cases and another book about a conspiracy against the Court.

Overall I am glad I read Allegiance and I hope Roosevelt will write another legal mystery but without a conspiracy.
Roosevelt, Kermit – (2007) - In the Shadow of the Law; (2016) - Allegiance - Enjoyed


  1. Thanks, Bill, for your thoughts on this. I agree with you that it's quite difficult to write a credible conspiracy. And a conspiracy plot does work best if it's closely related to any other plot line there may be in a novel. I can see why this particular one didn't appeal to you.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I think most conspiracies are best unwritten.

  2. I have enjoyed reading your two posts on this book, although I probably won't be reading it myself. Fascinating issues.

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. I expect there are readers less excited than myself about a plot focused on constitutional rights and the functioning of courts.

  3. I might like to read it due to the issues involved, including Japanese internment, but since it sounds like it wasn't done well here, I would probably skip it. Too much to read.
    I do like legal mysteries, but they have to be well-done.

    1. Kathy D.: There is a good chance you would like the book more than I did in reading it. I think you would find interesting the change in attitude of the young lawyer, Cash, through the book.