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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Review: The Nomination by William Tapply

Federal Judge Thomas Larrigan is being vetted to be the next Supreme Court Justice. While ostensibly having no skeletons in the closet, in reality he has several and he enlists the help of some ex-Marine buddies to take care of those skeletons.

One of those skeletons was his underage mistress, An Li, in Vietnam, who had a child that Thomas took from her and had put up for adoption. An Li, having escaped Vietnam at the end of the war to Paris, had become a well-known actress but is now suffering from a fatal degenerative disease and she happens to see a photograph of a woman she is sure is her daughter, May, now having adopted the name Jessie Church. She tried to contact Jesse who now is an ex-cop working as a P.I. and hiding from a mobster she had testified against so now she’s on the run again and drifting toward her biological mother in N.Y.

I have read a lot of Tapply and mourn his demise. This book is a stand-alone, not part of his regular series, and is a good story. Not great, but it has an intricate plot with well-defined characters. I would have to agree with some reviewers that the book doesn’t hang together as well as some of his Brady Coyne novels. The ending, in particular, seemed a bit haphazard. It was published after his death so I suspect it may have been completed by someone else. Humorous when you think of the ghostwriter character in the book.

A larger moral question is whether we should continue to condemn people for acts committed while young and in the midst of war. As we know all too well, war places enormous stresses on participants. Larrigan assumes he will be condemned and I guess his overriding desire to join the Supreme Court colors his judgment, but by all other appearances he has been a model person since Vietnam. I suppose you could argue that his morality is more than flawed by his initiation of the acts that result in several deaths, but had he simply revealed his actions during the war with a mea culpa shouldn’t his actions have been forgiven? Does no one believe in individual reformation anymore? Or are we to be eternally subject to retribution?
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