GUILTY MINDS Is Not Joseph Finder At His Best

Book Review - Jackie K Cooper
GUILTY MINDS by Joseph Finder

Joseph Finder is a writer of great talent. He has proven this with one best seller after another. Now he comes forward with GUILTY MINDS, another novel featuring Nick Heller, a private investigator who works for himself and takes only those cases he feels matter. Finder knows this character inside and out and plunges him into one dangerous situation after another.

The case at the heart of this novel is one concerning blackmail. Heller is contacted by a man who has heard about his skills. This man is a prominent Washington attorney who is idolized by many. At first Nick thinks he is the person who is being blackmailed but it turns out it is this man's friend, the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

A scandal sheet of an Internet site is going to expose an affair between the Chief Justice and a call girl if a certain amount of money is not paid within a short time limit. Nick has to marshal his forces and get going if he is to stand a chance of stopping this expose'. When a murder is added to this mix Nick really is under pressure.

The pacing of the plot, the details of the situation, the suspense of each event that transpires all keep the readers reading as quickly as possible. Although a blackmail situation between a celebrity and a call girl is not a fresh idea, Finder's talent is sufficient to make it seem different enough in details to pique the readers' interest. This is not where the book stumbles.

The stumbling occurs in the creation of the characters. Nick and every other character in this book are paper thin. In order to get involved in a book you have to have empathy with one or more of the characters on the pages. In GUILTY MINDS we are concerned about the characters' safety but we do not feel attached sufficiently to them to want their company. The reader is kept at arm's length and for a book to be successful you do not want that estrangement.

The strange thing is that in prior books we have been exposed to Nick Heller and he came across as much more human. Maybe Finder relied too much on our past knowledge to make us take to Nick but that didn't work. He is a man we may like and even admire, but he is not a person, in this story, who engages us.

I have been reading the works of Joseph Finder for a long time and I know how talented he is. He is capable of writing a story much more involving than this one is. This book will hold your interest and will provide you with some reading pleasure but it is not Finder at his best. He is capable of mush, much more. If I had not seen proof of this in the past I would not expect it now.

GUILTY MINDS is published by Dutton. It contains 400 pages and sells for $28.00.

Jackie K Cooper