Midnight by Kevin Egan is a dark legal thriller about two people desperate for a way out (available July 2, 2013).
Midnight written by Kevin Egan is a top notch suspense novel based on a unique premise. In the New York State Court System, there is a regulation that a judge’s staff, i.e., both the secretary and the law clerk, may keep their jobs until the end of the calendar year should the judge they work for die at anytime during the year.
And can you imagine the temptation if the judge dies suddenly in his chambers on New Year’s Eve and his staff, each coping with severe financial struggles, are the only two people who know he is dead?
Tom waited exactly one minute after he watched Carol take the angle at the end of the corridor. Then he locked chambers and headed in the opposite direction. Unlike Carol, he had thought about what would happen if the judge died. It would enter his mind each year as Christmas approached and hover like a specter on the periphery of his consciousness until January first came and he could put those fears away for another year. But, looking back on those other years, the judge’s death would not have been so dire a situation. The court system had money then, and a massive institution like the New York County Supreme Court had enough folds in its financial flab to hide a couple of employees whose judge died out from under them. There was no money now, and though Tom occasionally stretched the truth for effect, he had been totally truthful when he told Carol that the court could not afford to retain the staffs of the four judges scheduled to retire that same day.
While Carol’s financial problems stem from being sole support of a young son and an aging mother, Tom has darker problems—gambling debts to some very dangerous people who are demanding long over due payment-in-full.
As an additional complication, the judge was about to render a decision on a motion filed by the court officers union against the Office of Court Administration that will have long range financial implications for the court officers who work throughout the system, and several court officers noticed the judge arrive that morning. In fact the question flew around the building “you think today’s the day?”
The union has a lot invested in having the decision go in favor of the officers. The union president and his executive board will surely lose the next election if the judge rules against them. Tom sees the decision as an opportunity to get out from under his gambling debts.
Also in the mix is a court officer named Foxx. At once time he and Carol dated and he still looks out for her and has remained “big brother” friendly with her son. He keeps an eye on Carol out of more than just kindness, and he is annoyed and perhaps jealous when he sees Carol and Tom getting closer. Usually unruffled and composed, Foxx is extremely observant and perceptive. He senses trouble hovering around Carol and does his best to intrude in her life as a means of keeping her protected until he can find the root of the problem and solve it.
Midnight is absolutely riveting. There are so many layers of suspense and so much activity in such a short period of time that I often found myself holding my breath while reading. All the characters, be they good or evil, are fully drawn, and so recognizable that I would swear I sat next to each and every one of them on the subway or the bus and overheard their conversations.
Lastly, I have to confess that I come from a family full of court personnel and lawyers which makes me a bit of a skeptic when it comes to any fiction that touches the system. Based on the forty years of gossip around our dinner table, I can tell you unequivocally that Egan has nailed the courthouse atmosphere.
That authenticity combined with the incredible tension and apprehension tumbling off page after spellbinding page makes this a book not to be missed. I loved it and you will too.
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Terrie Farley Moran’s recent collection of short stories, The Awareness and other deadly tales, is currently available in e-format for the Nook and the Kindle. Terrie blogs at Women of Mystery and is presently writing a cozy mystery set in southwest Florida.