Shadow of Power: A Paul Madriani Novel
“The framers of the Constitution may have been brilliant, but they weren’t perfect,” writes Steve Martini. Considering the time they lived in and the culture that influenced their thinking, it’s amazing that the overall product of their minds has withstood trial after trial and proven to be one of the world’s supreme templates for democracy. Yet there will always be people like lawyer-turned-author Terry Scarborough who find pleasure in defaming those held in high esteem. Scarborough discovered an obscure element that was written into the Constitution, formed an incendiary bomb out of it, and rode it to fame and fortune on a bestselling book tour. PERPETUAL SLAVES was his ticket to prominence, and he did not care about the racial flames that were fanned by it.
Wow, sounds like some heavy philosophical stuff for a legal thriller! But what an interesting backdrop for several murders and a trial that looks like a no-win for defense attorney Paul Madriani. When the controversial author is found murdered, police arrest the most obvious suspect, Carl Arnsberg, a hotel waiter and the last one known to see Scarborough alive. Despite a preponderance of evidence, Madriani takes the case because Arnsberg is the son of an old friend and there does not seem to be an identifiable motive.
As we have come to expect from Martini, the courtroom drama is equaled only by the intense investigation that the defense conducts prior to the trial. No stone is left unturned as Madriani and his partner seek to discover who did have a motive to murder Scarborough. The investigation takes them from neo-Nazi enclaves to the highest court in the land; from the cohorts of his client to a missing Supreme Court Justice. The tension that is generated by uncovering facts is played out in the courtroom as Madriani cleverly begins to chip away the case that DA Tucci has carefully constructed. The story is intelligent, exciting and thought-provoking with enough dry humor to keep it real.
In an age when there is a fine line between history and “wish”-tory, there are those like Terry Scarborough who have no qualms about erasing that line for their own gain. Whether they are re-writing history or destroying icons, there is little regard for the chaos that results. Steve Martini demonstrates how the news media can create mass hysteria using 30-second sound bites and old video footage, and how media whores like Scarborough stand ready to exploit them. Whatever side of the controversy you choose, SHADOW OF POWER is sure to spark interest and promote lively discussions.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on January 23, 2011