Castiglia had been deep in the heart of Texas for an intimate gathering of the rich and powerful.
The next morning investigative reporter, Beck Rikki, is impatiently waiting for Castiglia to arrive for a breakfast meeting. The owner of the resort takes him to the room of the Chief Justice where they find him dead.
While alone with the body for a short time Beck takes with him a sample of the water from the tank in Castiglia’s CPAP machine. Having used a CPAP machine for several years because of my own sleep apnea I am very familiar with the CPAP machines. I would never have thought of them as a potential murder weapon. Such is the mind of the crime fiction writer.
I was reminded of Gail Bowen finding inspiration in another container of water to start writing her Joanne Kilbourn mystery series. Bowen had seen a carafe of water sitting on a flatbed trailer for the real life Premier of Saskatchewan at a political event. She thought it nice she lived in a country where the Premier’s water could be left unattended and then she thought what if it was poisoned and a crime fiction career began.
Back to Naked Truth, a short time later in a surreal scene, Cinderella Rivera (what an amazing name), local justice of the peace, after hearing the comments of the County Sheriff, pronounces Castiglia dead of natural causes.
Beck, with the inherent suspicion of an investigative reporter, has no evidence to think there was murder but why had the Chief Justice’s voice been stilled hours before he was to meet with Rikki to do the interview the Chief Justice had requested.
Beck was hoping the interview would help him get a position with a newspaper or magazine. He had been terminated some months earlier from the Washington Post-Examiner for conflict of interest. He had used information for a story from his current lover / partner, Geneva. While in love with Geneva he is not ready to commit to permanence.
Geneva is another memorable character in that she eschews clothes unless out in public. With the money to have a beach retreat and a penthouse in Washington D.C. she has the freedom to be nude.
Why would the Chief Justice be killed? His vices are private. He is well liked. He is strongly conservative.
Nino Castiglia appears to be inspired by the late American Supreme Court Justice, Antonin “Nino” Scalia who was very conservative, of Italian background, gregarious and died at a hunting retreat in Texas of a heart attack.
As Beck pursues the investigation there is mention of a circle. Is there a conspiracy behind the death of Castiglia?
As I read I thought of other murdered Supreme Court Justices. It was The Pelican Brief by John Grisham where two Justices are murdered and a Washington investigative journalist is a pivotal player in unraveling the conspiracy that committed the killings. In The Pelican Brief the motive for murder was not political but to arrange sympathetic judges before the Court hears a specific case.
Assaulted and warned to quit his investigation Beck is not deterred. He proceeds down a twisty road in his investigation including the Vice-President and the President.
I thought Naked Truth was a good book. The characters are interesting, even memorable. I did not find the conspiracy convincing. It is difficult to create good conspiracies though real life America appears consumed by conspiracies in 2018.
The conspirators turning on each other challenged the strength of the conspiracy.
There is a law firm at the heart of the conspiracy. Grisham in another book, The Firm, created a memorably crooked law firm. In the Naked Truth the structure of and relationships within the firm did not feel quite right.
The best part of the conspiracy was its unexpected purpose. I had not anticipated their goal and I doubt any reader will realize their intention before it is revealed.
The twists come fast and furious but became too many for me. I was reminded of some of the Lincoln Rhymes books of Jeffery Deaver when he just cannot stop adding twists. As the end of Naked Truth neared I was twisted into disbelief. A few less contortions and it would have been a great book. I will remember the wonderful characters and a surprising conspiratorial scheme. I did enjoy the book.