Grayson ‘Gray’ Hernandez has just finished law school. He dreams of making a big splash as a hot-shot lawyer, but so far his career hasn’t really taken off yet. Forever the idealist – his immigrant parents run a pizza place in a bad neighbourhood, and Gray wants to help them – he takes up a job as a Supreme Court messenger. It doesn’t pay much but at least he gets to be around the most brilliant minds of the country. Then, one night, the Chief justice is attacked in the building’s garage and Gray jumps to the rescue. The judge is impressed by him and rewards him with a much-desired clerking position. Gray loves the work but struggles to fit in with the team of wealthy, spoiled and mostly white young men. And then there’s the little matter that a serial killer is on the loose and seems to be tied to the supreme court.
I don’t know if this makes any sense: this book was not great but better than it thinks it is.
Alex Finlay wrote several of these supreme court-adjacent books under the pen name of Anthony Franze before coming out with his first thriller, Every Last Fear. I loved his Finlay-work, so I figured I’d try his Franze-work as well.
Sure, it’s writing by numbers, but it’s executed well. The plot is taut, if frequently somewhat nonsensical. I didn’t like the big reveal at the end; I somewhat saw it coming, but Finlay managed to steer me in the wrong direction a couple of times so that’s well done. Not all the characters are equally developed – women, as per usual, get the short end of the stick here – but Gray is a compelling enough protagonist and the inner workings of the Supreme Court are fun to read about (I admit I have no idea how realistic any of it is). My biggest beef was with the ending. Gray is just a bit too level-headed all of a sudden when compared to the rest of the book, and it felt like Finlay was trying to wrap things up a bit too quickly, which is odd because the pacing in the rest of the book is fine. I also didn’t like the over-the-top conclusion very much. Other elements, like Gray’s proud but worried parents and his complicated relationship with the other clerks and his childhood friends, work a lot better.
I’m not sure I’ll read the other books he wrote as well; for me, it was a bit too much of everything. But as legal thrillers go, this was a fun one.