The Bottom Line: A high-stakes conspiracy thriller that starts big and gets more explosive with each succeeding chapter. A must for House of Cards fans.
In Washington, an assassin’s bullet takes down a powerful senator. As the bold killer slips away into the night, investigators are left at loose ends – was the act perpetrated by a mysterious psychotic, or could it have been orchestrated by a powerful Washington insider?
But Alexander has little time to process the trauma of the senator’s assassination, as the President soon nominates him to the Supreme Court of the United States. At nearly the same time, he receives a rambling, graphic letter from Mr. Henry Crump, a Maine resident who wants justice for the rape and murder of his daughter 40 years earlier. The letter moves the judge, who tries in vain to contact Crump.
The judge soon learns that Crump has been killed, and that his second wife, Claire, has been arrested for assassinating the senator. Why would the judge’s wife not only kill the senator, but at a time and place where her husband could have been killed as well? And what does it all have to do with an unsolved 40-year-old murder case?
Author Elaine Williams Crockett, a former FTC attorney, reveals those answers with an intimacy that only someone who has actually worked in the federal legal system could. In a passage that is pivotal in conveying Judge Alexander’s passion, he explains how he had published a law review article urging federal legislation that would allow inmates access to post-conviction DNA testing, only to have it misappropriated by a newspaper that named prosecutors who had denied DNA testing: “I forced the Courier to publish a retraction concerning my law review article but frankly, the Courier was correct about the officials they named, and I didn’t shed any tears when they were fired.”
Crocket has assembled a huge cast of complex characters and manages them expertly. However, she wisely anchors the story around Alexander, telling much of the story from his point of view, and adding a layer of backstory that adds fire to his quest (his first wife was killed in a robbery). As the judge continues in his quest to clear his wife’s name, he finds that the truth is far more insidious, loathsome and threatening than he thought possible. That makes Do Not Assume a beltway whodunit that is well worth spending time with.