Tuesday, September 14, 2021

While Justice Slept by Stacey Abrams

While Justice Slept
by Stacey Abrams
Read by Adenrele Ojo
Published May 2021 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Publisher's Summary:
Avery Keene, a brilliant young law clerk for the legendary Justice Howard Wynn, is doing her best to hold her life together—excelling in an arduous job with the court while also dealing with a troubled family. When the shocking news breaks that Justice Wynn—the cantankerous swing vote on many current high-profile cases—has slipped into a coma, Avery’s life turns upside down. She is immediately notified that Justice Wynn has left instructions for her to serve as his legal guardian and power of attorney. Plunged into an explosive role she never anticipated, Avery finds that Justice Wynn had been secretly researching one of the most controversial cases before the court—a proposed merger between an American biotech company and an Indian genetics firm, which promises to unleash breathtaking results in the medical field. She also discovers that Wynn suspected a dangerously related conspiracy that infiltrates the highest power corridors of Washington. 

As political wrangling ensues in Washington to potentially replace the ailing judge whose life and survival Avery controls, she begins to unravel a carefully constructed, chesslike sequence of clues left behind by Wynn. She comes to see that Wynn had a much more personal stake in the controversial case and realizes his complex puzzle will lead her directly into harm’s way in order to find the truth.

My Thoughts:
It's getting late, I'm reading so much I hardly have time for writing reviews, and I really, really need to get to comments so I'm going to keep this one short.

Why'd I Read It: It was recommended to me by my sister-in-law, a woman who is crazy busy but still finds time to read a lot of mysteries. When she recommends one to me, I know I'm going to like it. 

Some Backstory: You'll know the name Stacey Abrams from her run from Governor of Georgia and, more importantly, for her tremendous work in getting eligible persons signed up to vote in that state. She wrote this book many years ago but had no luck getting it published. Did her name recognition help in the end? Undoubtedly. But this isn't the first book that Abrams has had published - she's previously written and had published several romance novels and a number of nonfiction books. 

What I Liked: 
  • Adenrele Ojo does a fine job reading the book which will make you think you should pick up the audiobook if you want to read this one. Read on.
  • Abrams includes biotech, genetics, espionage, medical, legal, and political elements and makes readers pay attention to the ways she weaves these elements together. 
  • Avery comes with a background that makes her feel more real, including a drug addict mother, a history of gambling, and a educational background that had her jumping from school to school.
  • Once this book gets rolling, there's no stopping it - it feels like it's ready made to be an non-stop action movie. 
What I Didn't Like:
  • The good guys are practically wearing white, while the bad guys are in black. There's almost no grey here. I kept waiting for one of the good guys to turn out to be a bad guy but it never happened. 
  • I prefer authors to give us a sketch of their characters but not to dwell on them. Abrams gives readers every detail, often enhancing those descriptions as the book goes on. 
  • Avery's mother, Rita, is an addict and, we are given to infer, a sex worker. Abrams seems to a very little sympathy for either addicts or sex workers, painting Rita in the most negative of lights and never given the impression that either addicts or sex workers are victims. 
  • There are some pretty glaring points where Abrams has characters, particularly Avery, doing things that we've been led to believe they are too smart to do. 
About that comment I made earlier about the audiobook. There is so much going on in this book, especially in the first half as it is set up, that it's tough to keep up with all of the details when you're listening to it. I'd definitely recommend you at least have a copy of the book on hand if you're going to listen to this one, so that you can refer back to it. 

Now, you're probably thinking that even though I said that I'm bound to like any book my sister-in-law recommends, I didn't seem to like this one much. It does have its flaws. But I was all in for the story and Abrams never made solving the problem too easy for the smart group Avery surrounded herself. Was the ending a little implausible? Well, yeah. But it's the ending you want and I was happy with it. And it had me looking forward to the next two Avery Keene books which Abrams is already contracted to write for Doubleday. 


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