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Posts Tagged ‘sexual harrassment case’

JUDGMENT by Joseph Finder: Book Review

Take one step down a slippery slope, and the next thing you know you’re falling faster than you ever imagined possible.  According to Wikipedia, that font of all knowledge, “a slippery slope…is a consequentialist logical fallacy in which a party asserts that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of unrelated events culminating in some significant (usually negative) effect.”

To put it more simply, when something goes wrong or one makes an unwise decision, additional wrong decisions follow until the final one leads to disaster (my definition).  That is certainly the case for Juliana Brody, a respected judge on the Massachusetts Superior Court, who makes a wrong decision, or maybe two such decisions, that may cost her her life.

Juliana has just given a presentation at a national lawyers’ conference in Chicago and is sitting alone on the hotel’s rooftop terrace.  She’s had her self-imposed limit of one drink when a man asks if he may sit at her table.  Matías Sanchez is staying at the hotel too, attending a different conference, and they enter into an interesting discussion about Mallorca, a place with which he’s very familiar.  Unwisely, Juliana has a second drink and before she has time to think it through, she and Matías are spending the night in his hotel suite.

Juliana has always been “miss goody two-shoes,”  in part to make up for her somewhat dysfunctional and chaotic childhood.  She obeys the rules, never goes over the speed limit.  She is, in her own words, “sensible, prudent, and cautious.”  So she determines to put this one misstep behind her and return to her husband, teenage son, and the Massachusetts court system.

The case currently before Juliana is a sexual harassment one.  The plaintiff, a young woman, claims that when she worked for a start-up ride-hailing company the CEO made unwanted advances to her; when she wouldn’t submit to his advances, he fired her.  The company, naturally, disputes these charges.

As Juliana returns to the courtroom after her Chicago trip, a man enters the room and sits down at the defense table.  He stands up to be introduced by his co-counsel and says, “Good afternoon, Your Honor.  My name is Matías Sanchez.”  And later that day, after having a drink with a friend at the Bostonia Club, Juliana is stunned once more to see Sanchez sitting in a chair across the room from her.

He comes to her table and tells her what he wants, a ruling in the company’s favor.  Angry and indignant, Juliana is ready to tell him to forget it when he says, “there’s a video” of their night together and proceeds to show it to her.  And what if she defies him or those who sent him, she asks.  “If you defy them, then the judgment will come,” he says.  “No appeals.  No mercy.  No justice.”

Joseph Finder has written a powerful novel about the fallout that comes from both making a mistake and trying to rectify it.  There are no easy answers for Juliana, and every step she takes seems to bring her and her family into more danger.  Judgment is a page-turner in the best sense of the word.

You can read more about Joseph Finder at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.