By: Stephen Frey
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: 9/29/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
Even the most incorruptible juror can be unwittingly influenced by others’ opinions in the digital age, but more sinister forces are at work: jury tampering has reached all-time highs. Unexpected verdicts are coming down more and more often, indicating that shadowy groups may be blackmailing jurors—and leaving the American justice system in shambles. Is impartiality even possible anymore?
Victoria Lewis, former governor of Virginia, thinks it is—and she has a plan to fix the broken system. Her home state is about to select two hundred citizens to become full-time jurors. Those chosen will live in a refurbished prison for two years, where they’ll be completely isolated from society and protected from all outside influences.But someone always finds a way to cheat the system. And when a deadly political conspiracy reveals corruption that poisons even the highest echelons of government, everything Victoria has created stands on the brink of destruction. Can she protect the jurors, the justice system—or even herself?
A special thank you to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
JURY TOWN by Stephen Frey is a complex riveting legal suspense thriller, of corruption, conspiracy, and greed— will an elaborate plan to clean up the judicial system succeed, or will manipulation and jury tampering continue to filtrate, even with Jury Town?
"Concentration of power is a recipe for evil."
As the book opens, it is 1992 in Charlottesville, VA-- Victoria Lewis and her mom are visiting Archer Prison. Her dad has been in prison the last five years, since she was nine. He is being charged for stealing money while he was county treasurer. He was framed and Judge Hopkins fixed the jury. Earlier she had not understood what these words meant, but after studying the judicial system in school—she learned more.
What she did not understand was how a jury could find her father guilty, if he was innocent? He did not steal fifty thousand dollars from the county. Judge John Hopkins got a snitch to tell the jurors on his trial if they did not vote his way, they would have trouble. Victoria vowed to her dad, she would correct the unfair system. She will help her dad and do everything she can to right the wrong for him and others.
We fast forward to the present day, Northern Virginia (Fairfax), and Los Angeles, Ca. We meet a variety of people, finding themselves in difficult compromising situations. Someone knows their secrets, lies, and past; this information will be used to blackmail them. If they do not comply, their past will be revealed which could ruin their lives. The demand: As a juror, they will find the respective parties, "Innocent", even though they are "Guilty." Big companies have to protect their misdeeds and illegal behavior. Leaving victims no choice but to lie. Good versus evil.
After Victoria’s graduation from the University of Virginia, and before her inauguration speech as governor, she always tapped the microphone three times for good luck, as a tribute to her dad, now deceased. Five years previously, she had been elected governor of Virginia at the age of thirty-two. She will fix the broken system, no matter what comes her way. She will not allow this injsutice to continue.
Presently, Victoria will oversee Project Archer —she will steer the ship, and Judge Eldridge will keep things calm. Two hundred Virginia citizens are about to become full-time jurors. They will sit in judgment of Virginia’s most important criminal and civil trials. She has the full and unanimous support of the Supreme Court as she leads Project Archer. The old prison will be refurbished, with cutting edge technology and security.
An endeavor to keep jurors from being influenced by others, as well as social media, and outside influences of bribery; particularly in high profile cases. It has been almost impossible for lawyers to identify and agree on twelve objective citizens to hear high-profile cases.
Professional jurors will be more efficient in their execution of justice, decisions will come faster, at the same time be more accurate and defensible. Verdicts will be far less vulnerable to reversal on appeal, and in most cases not subject to appeal at all. Project Archer will be a win-win for everyone but the criminals. However, Project Archer, will now be called Jury Town (as the memories are too difficult to remember; the prison as it once was when her father was a resident)--and the drug habit she has to keep them at bay.
These two hundred individuals will live full-time at a facility—they will hear cases remotely from the facility –they will exist in a bubble, and will have no contact whatsoever with the outside world. Over seven thousand people were screened. They will serve two years at the tune of $2 Million a year for a total of $4 Million. However, there are strict stipulations and rules. Chief Justice Eldridge and the other six justices on the Supreme Court have complete control over the process.
While they are preparing for the jurors to move into the high security facility, they have to keep things under wrap, to keep from snitches, or the leaking of information. However, there is conspiracy, corruption, and politics…. Someone is out to put a hole in the newfound plan. Victoria’s life is on the line and she has to protect the jurors, the justice system, and her plan.
From snipers to greed—there are those who do not want Lewis’ plan to succeed—they cannot allow other states to follow. Someone is out to stop Project Archer. They had a Deep Throat inside the Virginia Supreme Court. The big energy companies always have secrets and people to protect. In addition, their are jurors with their own secrets.
Then there is Angela Gaynor— the state senator from Virginia Beach, VA. She is a rising star, and works tirelessly for her constituents. She has had a tough life and fought her way up the ladder, and a successful Gaynor Construction Company. With childhood friend Trent Tucker, former NBA champion, they make a great team. They both have seen poverty, the ghettos, and the hoods. She has a past and now she is running for US Senate and taking on Chuck Lehman. She cannot believe she may be going to Washington. However, there are some which will stop at nothing to keep her from winning. Now her life and her reputation are on the line.
From Jury Town, to those on the inside, outside, politics, a cliff, a predator, a killer--from accidents, suspects, bribes, a sniper, monsters, threats, to murder. How high up will the conspiracy go and to how many agencies? Victoria has her own demons which haunt her, as well as a computer business man, with his own enemies— now at Jury Town, which may be able to use his technical abilities to redeem himself. Will the famous Gaynor, be Jury Town’s first verdict?
A complex and engaging multi-layered legal suspense. My first book by Frey, and look forward to reading more!
Some creative twists and turns—enjoyed the usage of two strong powerful women characters, with tough backgrounds and their ferocious tenacity to overcome many obstacles. For fans of legal and crime thrillers alike, who enjoy a twist of mystery, and suspense.
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About the Author
Steve lives in northern Virginia just outside Washington, DC. After a career in finance at JP Morgan in New York City and two European banks, he committed to writing full time.
Since 1995 he's had 18 novels published with Penguin Putnam, Random House and Simon & Schuster, and Amazon. His latest, Red Cell 7, is sequel to Arctic Fire and will be published on January 21, 2014.
Steve has three daughters, Christina, Ashley and Gabriella. He enjoys fly-fishing and golf. Website Twitter