The Tenth Justice by Brad Meltzer
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The Tenth Justice by Brad Meltzer

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People, 5/19/97:
Page Turner of the Week... Meltzer has earned the right to belly up to the bar in the company of John Grisham, Scott Turow and David Baldacci and join the growing ranks of attorneys making their cases on the bestseller list. Vanity Fair, 5/97 : Completely absorbing ... Glamour, 5/97: Hip... summer's first big beach book. Swing, 5/97: Meltzer stands poised to become the genre's next supernova. Booklist, 2/1/97: Fresh... witty... satisfying... suspenseful Library Journal, 2/15/97: Engrossing ... Publishers Weekly: Crafty ... Excerpted from The Tenth Justice by Brad Meltzer. Copyright(c) 1997. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved: Standing in front of Armand's Pizzeria, Ben enjoyed the cool late October breeze. As summer officially ended, so did Washington's unbearable humidity. Without his jacket, and with his shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows, Ben relished the quiet that blanketed the area. Already forgetting the green of summer, he stared at the brown and orange hue that decorated the trees along Massachusetts Avenue. Relaxed, he waited for his lunch companion. After a few minutes, he felt a tap on the shoulder. "Ben?" "Rick?" Ben asked, recognizing the voice of Justice Hollis's former clerk. Rick wore an olive-green suit and a paisley tie. His most noticeable features were his eyes, puffy and slightly bloodshot. With thin, blond hair that was combed to perfection, Rick was tall and rangy and older-looking than Ben had anticipated. "It's nice to finally have a face to put with your voice," Ben said as they shook hands. "After all the advice you've given me in the last two months, I figured it was time to find out what you look like." "Same here," Rick said as they walked into the restaurant. "So how has Hollis been treating you?" "He's fine," Ben said as they sat down at a table in the corner. "It's been about a month and a half since he got back from Norway, so I think I'm finally used to his idiosyncrasies." "He can be extremely odd, don't you think? I never understood why he would write only with pencils. Do you think he's allergic to pens?" "I think that's just part of his personality," Ben said. "In his mind, nothing is written in stone; it's all changeable. I just wish he wouldn't eat the erasers from his pencils." "He still does that?" Rick laughed. "That used to make me sick." "It's one thing to eat a clean eraser. I'm all for clean erasers. But he gnaws on the dirty ones. One time I saw him erase half a sheet of paper. There was rubber fallout all across the paper and the eraser itself was pitch-black. He put that sucker right in his mouth and started chewing. It came out with nothing but metal showing. His teeth were all black, it was nasty." "Ah, yes, I do miss those days," Rick said, looking down at the menu. "Don't even bother with the menu," Ben said. "There's only one thing to get here." Ben pointed to the unlimited pizza bar that was Armand's specialty. "All the pizza you can eat for only four ninety-nine. It's just about the greatest thing in the city as far as I'm concerned. I can't believe you never heard about this place." "I clearly missed out," Rick said, surveying the various pizzas. After giving the waiter their order, Ben and Rick walked up to the pizza bar and grabbed three slices each. When they returned to the table, Ben said, "Meanwhile, thanks again for the advice on the Scott case. I didn't realize Hollis was so adamant about ruling for defendants on those." "Our fair justice has never seen a Sixth Amendment case he didn't like," Rick said. "By the way, how did that death penalty case turn out?" "You know I'm not supposed to tell you that," Ben said, forcing a slight laugh. "We signed an ethics code - everything's confidential." "I signed the same agreement," Rick said, folding up a slice of pizza covered with onion and garlic. "And I'm still bound by it. Believe me, I know what it's like to sit in those chambers. The responsibility never ends." Ben looked over his shoulder, then leaned over to Rick. "We're working on the dissent. The justices voted five to four to fry him. It was a heartbreaker." "Hey, don't let it get you down," Rick said. "You guys did a great job in setting up that case. You can't - " "I know, I can't win them all," Ben said. "I just wish we could've saved that guy. He got screwed by the trial court." "He's not the first, and he's certainly not the last," Rick said. "So what else are you working on? What's happening with the CMI merger? Doesn't that come down next week?" This was a well written, intelligent and tautly written thriller, along the lines of David Baldacci's Total Control, except the characters are more "fleshed out" in Meltzer's novel. Ben Addison, the young law clerk, is totally likeable, if a tad too naive, and his friends are truly fantastic. Learning about life behind the Supreme Court doors was an eye-opener, as was the whole concept of the plot - the unintentional disclosure of a Supreme Court decision not yet announced, to an unscrupulous character, who used it for his, and others' financial gain. Brad Meltzer, I'm anxiously awaiting your next novel!