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The chief justice of the Supreme Court is about to be defamed, his career destroyed, by a powerful gossip website that specializes in dirt on celebs and politicians. Their top reporter has written an expose claiming that he had liaisons with an escort, a young woman prepared to tell the world her salacious tale. But the chief justice is not without allies and his greatest supporter is determined to stop the story in its tracks. Nick Heller is a private spy--an intelligence operative based in Boston, hired by lawyers, politicians, and even foreign governments. A high-powered investigator with a penchant for doing things his own way, he's called to Washington, DC, to help out in this delicate, potentially explosive situation. Nick has just forty-eight hours to disprove the story about the chief justice. But when the call girl is found murdered, the case takes a dangerous turn, and Nick resolves to find the mastermind behind the conspiracy before anyone else falls victim to the maelstrom of political scandal and ruined reputations predicated upon one long-buried secret.
Audio: Ruined reputations
Nick Heller, private spy, defender of righteousness and a man who is never far from feats of derring-do, returns in Joseph Finder’s Guilty Minds, read by Holter Graham, who has become Nick’s voice. Because of his unique set of talents, honed in the Special Forces, and his innate ability to spot lies, Nick is asked to take on an extremely sensitive, high-stakes job by Gideon Parnell, a hotshot Washington lawyer and famed black civil rights hero. The job is to stop the sordid but oh-so-influential website Slander Sheet from releasing the explosive story that Parnell’s good friend, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, spent three nights with a gorgeous young call girl. Nick has only 48 hours. But nothing is quite as it seems—the exposé is too easy to expose, the call girl is murdered after she tells Nick the truth, and the mysterious backer of Slander Sheet doesn’t have a judge grudge. Nick’s real job is to get through the convoluted layers obstructing the secret that’s driving it all—and to stay alive while doing it. This is Finder at his race-paced best.
THE PERFECT COUPLE
Corrine and Russell Calloway, the perfect couple who first appeared in Jay McInerney’s novel Brightness Falls and later in The Good Life, return for the third time in Bright, Precious Days, read by Edoardo Ballerini. They’re middle-aged now, their golden aura dimmed a bit with time. I feel as though I’ve followed them in real time, from their first euphoric days when making it in New York seemed so gloriously possible, when ambition to be part of the city’s rarefied literary world fueled Russell’s life. It may seem clichéd to say that McInerney has painted a portrait of a marriage, but this clear-eyed, intimate, sympathetic triptych is just that. He sets the inevitable disappointments, disasters and dysfunctions inherent in most long marriages against his evolving evocation of the “bright” New York literati-glitterati scene with which he’s been closely associated. Though the novel ends in 2008, as the bubble bursts and the economy plummets, Corinne and Russell, subdued and somewhat chastened, can still turn to each other.
TOP PICK IN AUDIO
If you don’t know who Cynthia Ozick is, don’t worry, you’re not alone. I’ve been a fan of her novels and short stories for years, but had never read many of her essays. Ozick is a writer’s writer and a critic’s critic (not a reviewer—she makes the difference clear). She writes about brilliant sentences in brilliant sentences of her own, and is as dedicated to prose and poetry and its analysis as is possible. She is, as Franz Kafka said of himself, “made of literature.” Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary Essays, Ozick’s latest collection, is insightful and challenging, judgmental in the best sense of the word. She writes about W.H. Auden and Kafka, Edmund Wilson and George Orwell, William Gass and Martin Amis. And she makes you consider why authors and critics need each other and why we need them both. Most of us don’t often have the time, or inclination, to read such serious writing, but here, with the ease of access a well-read audio offers, we can listen and be better for it.