As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Sphere, 4 August 2016. ISBN: 978-0-7515-6729-8 (HB)
In his earlier legal thrillers Mark Gimenez has already taken on major
contentious issues like corruption in politics, fracking and the darker side of
the American legal system. His latest target is the biggest yet. The theme is
international large-scale terrorism – and he gives no quarter to either side.
Absence of Guilt features A Scott
Fenney, protagonist of two earlier books, once a high-powered property lawyer
earning seven figures, now a federal judge making barely six. In A Scott’s own
words, he gave up doing well in favour of doing good,
that happened is a subject for the earlier books. (The A, by the way, stands
for Atticus, as in Atticus Finch, hero of To Kill a Mockingbird. That
should give you a hint.) This time around Scotty, as his friends call him, is
playing for much bigger stakes. A gang of suspected ISIS terrorists, led by a
radical imam, has been rounded up after the FBI uncovered a plot to blow up the
stadium where the Super Bowl was being played, massacring a hundred thousand
American football fans. Scott’s job is to decide whether enough evidence exists
to keep them in custody until after the game, thus ensuring the plot won’t be
only problem is there is no evidence. And by hook or by crook, they are
American citizens. And the American constitution is quite clear on the matter:
without evidence, American citizens walk.
has the nitty-gritty of the American constitution resulted in such
edge-of-the-seat tension. Mark Gimenez is a lawyer as well as a writer, and a
master of both crafts: balancing his arguments as much as creating a great
story which turns up the heat under the developing situation. There are even
moments in the narrative when it’s the radicals’ side of the question that
seems to be making most sense; not their methods, which are barbaric by any
standards save their own, but their rationale for believing and behaving as
is all too well aware that a judge’s lot is to be unable to please all the
people all the time; someone is always going to be upset with him. What’s more,
sticking to his principles isn’t easy when there’s pressure from multiple directions
to be a good American even if that means being a bad judge; and when the
terrorist threat comes far too close to home, the potential consequences almost
send principles of all kinds to the four winds.
no spoiler to say (this is fiction, after all, though scarily real in the
present climate) that with the help of his legal team, a sensible FBI agent and
his family (his two daughters are among many superbly drawn,
slightly-larger-than-life characters who include a fictional US president)
Scott eventually battles through, though not without treading perilously close
to the line more than once. The novel is a richly readable mix of
thought-provoking argument, high-tension action, clever misdirection and
detailed domestic and legal background: in other words, another Mark Gimenez
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
up in Galveston County, Texas. He attended Southwest
University in San Marcos, Texas,
and earned a B.A. in Political Science with honors. He then attended Notre Dame Law
School in Indiana and earned a J.D. degree magna cum laude.
He practiced law with a large Dallas
law firm and became a partner. After ten years, he left to practice solo and to
write. Mark lives in texas.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.