Fresh Meat: The Advocate’s Daughter by Anthony Franze

The Advocate's Daughter by Anthony Franze follows Sean Serrat, a Supreme Court lawyer on the short list to be nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court, as he searches for his daughter's killer and uncovers secrets that involve some of the most powerful people in the world.

Everything is looking sweet for Sean Serrat.

A nomination is in the offing, which will take him high above his legal counterparts, up into the political and professional stratosphere about which most people imagine, but few actually get to experience. A loving and loyal wife, children of a variety of ages, who bring their own specific type of family angst as they make their way in the world—it doesn’t get any better.

No, it doesn’t—in fact, it gets considerably worse. First, the family experiences an event that would have most people with their head down the toilet bowl, wishing they could turn back the clock. Then, the realization dawns on Serrat that the only person he can trust is looking back at him from the bathroom mirror, and even he has to be watched very carefully.

Memories from thirty years ago in Japan come washing back. Events he tried to block out sear into the present sharply and with evil intent, thanks in no small part to the skill of the author Anthony Franze. He surely knows how to weave a sharp, concise tale of corruption, murder, double-dealing, vengeance, and retribution along with the best of them. The remarkable thing is that he manages to get it all in one book, without swamping the characters or making the storyline so heavy it topples into the Potomac, leaving the reader scratching their head and wondering where it all went wrong.

The key is the relationship between Serrat and his daughter. It drives everything. Franze captures the intricate and fragile nature of this universally special relationship with great skill in the narrative:

“No, really, I’ve studied all of the past justices-I know them all,” Abby said. The sound of crashing waves filled the air.

“All of them?” Sean said skeptically. “There’s been more than a hundred Supreme Court justices. I don’t think you…”

“Try me, give me a clue and I’ll guess the justice.”

Sean smiled at his daughter. The summer after her first year of law school. Like every person who’d ever studied the law, she was consumed by it. And a bit insufferable too, with the law jokes and constant legal references. He was surprised since he thought that Abby might be immune having grown up with the law and Supreme Court around her.

His daughter stuck out her lower lip. It worked as well in her twenties as it did when she was five.”

It seems the like ideal life with all the trimmings. Sometimes it is the icing that is sweet, but the cake is ready to crumble—usually because the foundation is unsure, moist and weak. So, Serrat’s life starts to unfold with one hellish event that unleashes the cascade of misfortune.

He appoints himself as detective to unravel the mysteries, which keep coming, one by one. Regrets, the most foul tasting ingredient made by man, comes to roost as he noses about, ably assisted by his family. It is not the Partridge Family with monocles; it is far too edgy and fierce for it to ever become that. It is violent, unforgiving, and well written by someone who clearly knows how to keep your attention, from page one.

Is Serrat chasing the truth or trying to hide from it? Or, like so many of us, is he dancing in the middle like a snake without a charmer? Someone knows the truth about Serrat’s past, and clues are placed along the way, goading and testing him—and us—to see what he might do or to force him into a certain course of destructive action. Tautly written and expertly put together, if there is one crime thriller you want to add to your collection, then let this be it.


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Dirk Robertson is a Scots thriller writer, currently in Virginia where he is promoting literacy and art projects for young gang members. When not writing, tweeting, or blogging on the Mystery Writers of America website, he designs and knits clothes and handbags from recycled rubbish.

Read all Dirk Robertson’s posts for Criminal Element.

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