Guilty Minds: Joseph Finder
Within the world of media there are some that will expose the lives of others regardless of whether the information is true or has been verified. Falsely speaking of someone is a crime. Ruining his or her reputation can leave you open for a defamation of character suite as you gossip, vilify and destroy someone’s reputation. Slander Sheet. Website is an online publication that prides itself on releasing information about celebrities, television personalities, political figures and anyone that makes the news. Nick Heller is about to enter this world as he has been requested by a powerful lawyer to bring down Scandal Sheet who is about to release a story about the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Kayla Pitts is a young, naïve girl who has been roped into a situation that she cannot get out of. Money was the lure at first and then threats to her family and herself if she did not go along with the lie. Taking down Chief Justice Jeremiah Claflin is the goal of someone powerful. Leaking the story that he had a liaison with Kayla Pitts, who worked for an escort service would ruin his career. Nick Heller is the man to find out the hidden truth but before all is said and done many other lies, deceits and betrayals will not only plague his investigation but will reveal many guilty minds.
With the help of his forensic technologist Dorothy, several hackers and his own ingenuity Nick Heller begins by demanding to meet the Chief Justice before agreeing to take the case. The author shares the intricacies of the technology involved in finding out whether the Chief Justice really stayed at the hotel he was registered at and whether he actually entered the room or not. What is revealed will allow readers to wonder just how private your privacy is when staying at a hotel. Added in we learn how to find out about someone’s call records to learn whether the person was actually in the same state they were purported to be in at the time of the liaisons. In both cases Kayla was visiting her sister in prison and the judge never stayed at the hotel. But, Mandy Seeger is the reporter that has been assigned the story and when her boss and editor demands that she run with it before verifying all the facts they set off a chain reaction you won’t believe. Kayla using another name with the escort service, Heidi is 22 years old and quite beautiful. Mandy Seeger is the Slander Sheet Reporter and pretending to be her he hoped to meet Kayla. Starbucks the place and the meeting quite interesting as Kayla tells her story and Nick realizes that something is wrong. A well trained liar and actress she manages to come off as a professional escort but her attitude seemed off and at times she appeared to be anxious. Added in someone was following her and Nick decided to meet the person only to learn that he is a retired crooked cop. So, who hired him to watch her and why?
Given 48 hours to find the source of the story and not have it released did not stop them from going back on their word thinking they were going to be scooped. Hoping that other scandal sheets did not post it or that it did not become part of the regular news, Nick thought he still had time to correct damage before the article was leaked but he did not. The editor decided to forge ahead and print the article while Dorothy his tech checked Drudge Report and Gawker, Perez Hilton, TMZ and other online websites and even the Times as he contacts the man who started it all Gideon Parnell who hired him to uncover the leak. Mandy Seeger thought she had a solid story until she did not and when the story leaked and the truth came out she was fired. The mainstream media like The Washington Post, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR and NBC evening news would make it hard to make the story disappear if it goes wide. When the evidence unfolds the truth is that Kayla Pitts was not even in the same town as the Chief Justice and her phone records prove she was visiting her sister in prison. Someone wants her out of the way, Mandy to take the fall and the Chief Justice destroyed but who and why?
Then brings in another expert named Merlin to work his technological magic and the team is in full strength but not everything goes according to plan. Merlin’s plan did not work and the pressure was on because now they knew they were on to them. The rogue cop who is watching everything decides to take it one step further and someone close to the investigation is about to pay. Finding out where this cop lives is one thing, breaking into the house and the end result another but when Nick returns to the hotel what he finds is something he never expected: Kayla Pitts is dead in the adjoining room next to his killed while Dorothy was asleep in the next room and he and Merlin were doing their breaking and entering act at the ballpark and field changes, the guilty increase and Nick is getting closer to uncovering the harsh truth. Detective Balakian had it in for Nick and his questioning skills show his inexperience as he thinks Kayla’s death was anything but a homicide. Leading him in the right direction with pointed questions that might help him solve the case, Nick tries to convince him that it was someone at Centurion that killed her and possibly why.
Ellen Wiley owns Scandal Sheet and will do anything to help Nick learn the truth about Kayla’s death and maybe even vindicate the publication in some way. Using surveillance equipment that was geared to government agencies and kept secret, the technology called stingray would help with cell phone records as a tracking device to find cell towers. The author shares that the US Marshall’s office uses this technology to find suspects and their locations as well as using their cell phones to catch them. Tom Vogel was the man who Ellen contacted about security as Nick with Ellen’s help set up a special sting. When Mandy is kidnapped and the stakes become higher will Nick be able to save her before it’s too late? Told that if he does not go home to Boston she will be the next casualty, what he does is right out of a James Bond 007 movie or even Magnum P.I. The ending is startling when you learn who devised the plot and reasons why right out of a scandal sheet or TMZ. Jeremiah Claflin knew something and one man wanted to make sure it never came to light. Just who choreographed everything including kidnapping Mandy you won’t believe as someone is hiding in plain sight and you will never realize whom. Explosive, technology driven, one man named Nick Heller who will stop at nothing to find the killer, the kidnapper and settle some scores. When the truth comes out just who will come out standing up and who will fall? What about Mandy? Will she ever regain her reputation or will she search for another career? Nick Heller what’s next? Some scandals never die and some minds will always be guilty when dealing with the public. One more five star golden star review for author Joseph Finder and Nick Heller. Guilty Minds: Throughout the novel there are many!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine