Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Fifth Letter

I know it's a Saturday, but I still have a review ready to go for you. You lucky lamb, you.

The Fifth Letter - Vivian Carpenter
The Fifth Letter
Sometimes you’re damned if you do and damned if you don't. Such is the position in which U.S. Justice Katherine Ross, the first black female on the U.S. Supreme Court, finds herself in "The Fifth Letter," the new legal thriller by author Vivian Carpenter. 

Rooted in the historical treatment of Blacks in the United States, Justice Katherine Ross, the first Black female on the U.S. Supreme Court, struggles to do what is right as her mother’s 1940s memoir influences her actions and emotions. 

Once on the Court, Katherine gains the power to ignite an involuntary retirement process to remove conservative Justice John Galt from the bench after the U.S. Constitution is amended to create an involuntary retirement process of incapacitated justices. 

John Galt, an outspoken egoist, survives an assassination attempt but is severely injured. He appears incapacitated. Pressures for Galt’s removal from the bench mount with his prolonged absence from the Court. However, John Galt will not resign is seat. Katherine must decide whether or not to issue the fifth letter for Galt’s retirement. 

While weaving through Katherine’s personal challenges, "The Fifth Letter" turns a spotlight on the most important issue currently facing the Court today: who is a person with inalienable legal rights in America? And it asks this question of its main character: What happens when a liberal Black female justice of the Supreme Court is caught between her conscience and the call of political expedience? 

I have to start by saying this book is quite the reading, coming in at just over 400 pages. It can't be said that this is a fun, weekend read- this is heavy (literally), and there is a lot crammed into this book. With that said, I enjoyed it. 

The story is about Katherine Ross, who is the first black U.S. Supreme Court justice, and her mother. It has loads of black history (which alone is absolutely fascinating), it's well researched in regards to law and Constitutional procedures. Let me also just add in here that while it is well researched, and there is legalese in the book, it's not too much. You never feel lost and you actually learn a little something along they way. Specifically what "The Fifth Letter" is, which is where you invoke involuntary retirement for a Supreme Court justice who is deemed incompetent. 

The other thing I liked about this book is that it kind of feels like an episode of House of Cards, where Katherine learns that while she takes her job seriously, there are others who try to use her to further their own agendas. Everyone is scheming, everyone has an agenda, and not everyone cares as much about the law or the Constitution as Katherine does. The story weaves between Katherine and her mother, and her mother's story acts as a moral guide for her at times. The only complaint I have is that the story itself is a bit unbelievable, but then I think maybe it should be. It IS a work of fiction, after all! And can we talk about what an ambitious, yet well written, first book this was for the author? Color me impressed! 

If you are a fan of political thrillers, this is going to be a book you'll enjoy. Lucky for you, this book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

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