Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Shadow of Power by Steve Martini

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Shadow of Power by Steve Martini. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Shadow of Power by Steve MartiniBuy from

Shadow of Power by
A Paul Madriani Legal Thriller

William Morrow (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-06-123088-X (006123088X)
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-123088-2 (9780061230882)
Publication Date: May 2008
List Price: $26.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Terry Scarborough is a legal scholar and provocateur who craves headline-making celebrity, but with his latest book he may have gone too far. In it he resurrects forgotten language in the U.S. Constitution—and hints at a missing letter of Thomas Jefferson's—that threatens to divide the nation. Then Scarborough is brutally murdered and a young man with dark connections is charged. What looks like an open-and-shut case to most people, doesn't to defense attorney Paul Madriani. He believes there is much more to the case, and that the defendant is a pawn caught in the middle, being scapegoated by circumstance.

As the trial spirals toward its conclusion, Madriani and his partner Harry Hinds race to find the missing Jefferson letter—and the secrets it holds about slavery and scandal at the time of our nation's founding and the very reason Scarborough was killed. Madriani's chase takes him from the tension-filled courtroom in California to the trail of a Supreme Court justice now suddenly in hiding and lays bare the soaring political stakes for a seat on the High Court, in a country divided, and under the shadow of power.

Review: Shadow of Power, Steve Martini's ninth legal thriller featuring criminal defense attorney Paul Madriani, is so meticulously researched and well written that it is virtually impossible to discern where fiction ends and fact begins.

Madriani and his team take on the defense of Carl Arnsburg, a twenty-three year old member of the Aryan Nation, accused of the murder of noted flamboyant, and politically connected, author Terry Scarborough. Wherever Scarborough goes to promote his latest bestselling novel, Perpetual Slaves: The Branding of America’s Black Race, racial uprisings occur: buildings are burned, cars turned over, and more. He stimulates the hatred that still arises in our nation when the issue of slavery is broached. Although the members of his staff try to advise him to restrain his ardor for attention, Scarborough wants more notoriety so his next book, a sequel to Perpetual Slaves, will be an even bigger hit than this one.

Toward that end, Terry Scarborough plans to announce on national television that in his next book he will reveal finding an authentic copy of the so-called “J” letter written by Thomas Jefferson at the time the US Constitution was drafted that reveals some deep secret about slavery. Before he can do so, he is found dead. Carl Arnsburg’s prints are found on the murder weapon, the victim's blood on his pants and shoes. With a swastika and "Our Race is Our Nation" tattooed on his body, he is the perfect candidate to arrest for the murder. In addition to the forensic evidence, the prosecution has eye witnesses and confirmation from the Aryan Nation that Arnsburg did threaten to kidnap and possibly kill Scarborough. It is up to the defense to find evidence to try to somehow prove Arnsburg did not commit the crime, or at the very least, save Arnsburg from the death penalty. Madriani knows the “J” letter is the real clue to the murder, but no one knows where the letter is or even if it exists. Members of Madriani’s law firm are taken from San Diego to the Caribbean nation of Curacao and finally to Washington DC where a Justice of the Supreme Court may be involved. Because Madriani and his partner believe in Arnsburg’s innocence, it’s a race to see if they can find the answer to who really killed Terry Scarborough and why before it's too late.

There's something for everyone in this remarkable book. A tightly wound plot, a historical mystery, a combination of international, political, and legal intrigue, riveting courtroom scenes, and even a touch of humor. Shadow of Power is not only one of the best legal thrillers this year, it is one of the best novels of the year.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Shadow of Power and to HarperCollins for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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