Stephen L Bruneau – The Scotus Affair
Available on Amazon: paperback, £10.95, ebook £10.95. I received a copy of the novel from the author for review purposes.
“A timely political thriller” says the blurb of this novel, and it opens in Boston, one of my favourite cities in the world, so we’re off to a good start as soon as I crack the covers.
Wealthy Black entrepreneur Ben Johnson is grief-stricken to hear the love of his life, Acadia LaFleur – who lives far from him, in Louisiana – is in a coma and unlikely to live after being attacked in a presumed home invasion. The pace of the opening chapters is slowed by flashbacks to Ben and Acadia’s first meeting four decades ago to cement our empathy, but gets a turbo boost when we head to Washington, DC and a murky plot to stuff the Supreme Court is unveiled (if you were puzzled, that’s your title explained: Scotus is short for Supreme Court Of The United States).
Determined to find out what happened to Acadia, Johnson involves a friend, Dimase Augustin, an ex-homicide detective turned private investigator. As Augustin begins work in Louisiana, Johnson heads to DC on business, and to do a little digging from another angle. Then another woman is attacked, tying the two cities together in ugly fashion.
Augustin finds a slim thread connecting the attacks. As he follows it further into the labyrinth, it gets more and more knotted – meanwhile at the other end, things are starting to unravel. The reactions of those involved are extreme, but is the conspiracy far-fetched? That depends on how closely you have followed US politics over the past few years and how cynical you are…
For something tagged “A Dimase Augustin thriller” there’s a lack of Augustin action and involvement, a necessity of the chosen plot but still frustrating – when he is endangered, we don’t care enough about him to be anguished about his fate. The style is a little florid in places for my taste, too, but it’s generally well-written and fulfils the thriller checklist: the pages keep turning and the action keeps pushing forward, building towards an explosive conclusion. And the conspiracy element is entertaining, with plenty of nods to American politics current and past, so if that kind of thing grabs you, The Scotus Affair will not disappoint.