Judgement: Joseph Finder
We all could judge, make decisions and hopefully form our opinions in an objective and wife manner using discretion and sound objectives. However, when you pass judgment, you are expressing your approval or disapproval about something that is either fact or fiction. In a courtroom such as the one you will enter when you open to the second chapter of this novel, the judge in question must make a legal decision that might cost her more than she is willing to lose. Having the insight and judgment is important and valuable in your life but what happens when all your senses force you to do something that might impact you in the future, but you fail to remind yourself of the possible consequences of your actions? Do you have the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of something or that situation? Judge Juliana Brody will learn the definition and origin of the word judgment before all is said and done as she enters a bar in Chicago and finds herself in deep conversation with a stranger who ensnares her and captures her attention and the final outcome might change her life, her career and family dynamics forever.
Rachel Myers is the object of a lawsuit focused on sexual harassment in the work place. The Me-Too movement which is prevalent and related to this case where this young girl has fallen prey to the CEO’s wile and whims and that of others within the company, she is the general council for, focuses on this movement with a large variety of local and international alternative names and is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault. Brody is the Judge presiding of this sexual harassment case and there are forces beyond her control that are blackmailing into ruling in favor of the defendant, or company being sued for sexual discrimination. Employing many legal illegal and unethical methods to uncover the secrets behind Wheelz, the company that appeared to be going bankrupt at one point and is the latest competition for Uber of Lyft, the plaintiff is a young female attorney who was let go or fired for denying the advances of the CEO of the company. Although they agreed to a huge settlement amount, Rachel wants her voice heard and she is using the court system to make sure everyone hears her story. Men will be men so to speak but in the mind of this young girl she will not give it a rest and the courtroom scenes described and the motions and discovery documents involved are shared with readers to understand the gravity of the situation, how the system works and why the defense wanted certain documents placed under a protective order and not allowed to be revealed whereas the plaintiff wanted it all out in the open. Confidentiality is at stake on both sides but with someone threatening the judge, someone following her movements and people showing up at different times and places letting her know she had better rule in favor of Wheelz, things spiral out of control and take on a dangerous turn. Like all high-profile cases the media has its hands in this one and Juliana must try and find out who is behind the company, who really owns Wheelz and who is the mystery investor. But, a second plot unfolds when she takes the chance and tells Duncan, her husband about the one-night stand, being forced to move out and take residence with an old and dear friend, and learns her son is vaping and is in danger of being expelled for selling drugs at his school.
With the aid of a PI named Phillip Hersh she uncovers information about the many shell companies that are behind the acquisition and sale of Wheelz but first the man who she met in Chicago turns up as co-council on her case in court and the expression on her face was dark and frightening and what she does next will shock readers. Dealing with the court she decides to find out where this man is staying the events that follow change the course of her life even more putting many others in danger as he is one of three people related to this case that winds up dead either by what they think is suicide and the other two accidents!
Jake her son, has become recalcitrant, does not do his homework, skips classes and refuses to take the SAT practice tests and has taking up smoking pot by vaping it. When she learns about its Duncan and Juliana go at it from different sides and the rift gets wider among all three. She even enlists the aid of a hacker through Hersh her PI to find out who is behind company that has taken control of Wheelz and hoping that the tape of her one-night stand gets buried and does not become the latest video on UTUBE. Someone wants her out of the way and when she meets with, he attorney general an arch enemy due to a case she won against him, things take on a threatening turn and if she does not resign the consequences might be dire.
Hearing the case in court, learning more about the protective order she was fated to sign, which side would she rule on? Sexual discrimination is serious, and Rachel was fired because of its band wants her voice heard as we learn more about the deposition, the lawyer’s tactics and the Russian Oligarch that owns Wheelz. The conspiracy involving Russians and Russia reminds us of what we hear on the news everyday with the hearing and counterintelligence investigations.
With her connections to many different branches such as the FBI and the CIA you would expect that there would be few obstacles standing in her way but when meeting with the agents no one would touch the case nor would they get involved until someone does. Just what was behind the sale of Wheelz and who is the rightful owner leads us into what we are reading in the news today regarding the counterintelligence investigations primarily Muller. The ending takes Juliana down some very dangerous and treacherous roads deadlier than a wicked ice storm or a destructive tsunami that many have endured in different countries. The fatalities rise, the body count increases as someone close to the case is sacrificed and Juliana must decide whether to get off the bandwagon and let it all go. What started out as a sexual harassment case snowballed into an internal and counterintelligence investigation that would rock the legal world, explain just how far someone would go to control the outcome of this trial and the final reveal as to what the primary reasons were for escalating the events. Why would an Uber competitor be so powerful and who was the real owner of Wheelz? What is the connection to the Mayfair Paragon and what exactly is it? Kevin Mathers, Matias Sanchez and Fiona Charteris all learned something that cost them their lives but what? Would the judge pay the same price for what she would learn? An ending so powerful and the outcome or reveal shocking but not before Juliana faces another crisis dealing with Jake, his disappearance and the possibility they went after him too. Truths, lies, betrayals, deceptions, explosive results, decisions and one court case, one indiscretion and one judge named Juliana Brody whose life is on the line all because she did not adhere and made one wrong Judgment. Author Joseph Finder takes this novel up a notch and raises the bar as we learn about the legal system, the ways to circumvent the law and the hidden truths and lies behind what happens when the U.S. and Russia are at odds. Like a pane of stain glass that is so fragile and can crack if touched the wrong way. Like a mosaic that can lose tiles if they are not fastened or pasted in properly as Juliana Brody struggles with her morals and ethical values hoping that her life does not come apart as like a mosaic whose tiles are lose.
Fran Lewis: Just review/MJ magazine/MJ Network