Book Review: The Absence of Guilt, Mark Gimenez

This is the third novel by Mark Gimenez that features A. Scott Fenney, a brilliant Dallas lawyer. His way of life was changed dramatically when forced to defend a young woman against a murder charge in The Color of Law, and we saw his sense of duty come to the fore when he defended his ex-wife against another murder charge in Accused.

It’s fair to say, then, that Mark Gimenez gives Fenney a pretty hard time. The dilemmas that are set for him remind me of Dick Barton, Special Agent, a radio play from the 1940s. One team of writers was tasked with setting Dick Barton the most impossible challenges, then another set of writers had to devise a way out – the competitiveness between the teams adding to the tension. The difference here is that A. Scott Fenney is not a man that would take an easy way out – his sense of duty is so profound that he faces impossible moral dilemmas head on, regardless of the consequences to his personal life.

In this story, we see Fenney installed as a federal judge. He has to rule on whether the President has broken constitutional law by issuing an order to allow illegal immigrants to become citizens of America. He also has to consider whether to free a terrorist accused of plotting to blow up a stadium in Dallas during the Super Bowl. The attorney general and the president are counting on him to detain the suspect – the only problem is the absence of any evidence against him.

I think Gimenez is at his best with this character, especially because we continue to hear about his family life as his teenage daughters grow up and become a key part of the plot in this book. He also gives a sly reference to Bookman, the main character in his earlier book, Con Law.

Five Stars

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