I can still feel the adrenalin pumping through my body from reading the last chapters of Stacey Abrams’s first thriller, While Justice Sleeps. This conspiracy story with a legal and medical edge is complex yet riveting. Its convoluted plot takes the reader from the upper echelons of the White House to the dusty basements of the Pentagon, twisting through the action to a riveting conclusion.

“I can still feel the adrenalin pumping through my body from reading the last chapters of Stacey Abrams’s first thriller, While Justice Sleeps.”

When Justice Howard Wynn makes a surprising speech at a university’s commencement ceremony, whispers are already stirring of paranoid delusions and his ability to continue as a Supreme Court Justice. This is just the beginning. Merely days later, he falls into a coma and the country is shocked to discover that Avery Keene, his law clerk, has been awarded power of attorney at Wynn’s explicit request.

While Justice Sleeps follows Avery, a young Black woman with a brilliant mind who is just as baffled as everyone else at her new responsibility. As she begins looking for answers, she only finds more questions, which seem to centre around the Supreme Court’s impending decision on a controversial biotech merger. Together with Wynn’s estranged son, her best friend from college, and Wynn’s lawyer, she embarks on a journey to solve a seemingly endless stream of puzzles and clues laid out for her by Wynn, leading her to uncover a conspiracy that will put her at the centre of a deadly power struggle.

“It is refreshing to read a book with a Black woman protagonist that doesn’t centre around racism or her identity. Avery is just an unlucky bystander…”

The narrative plays out cinematically, Abrams’s visceral imagery bursting to life in the mind’s eye. The details are intricate, gifting the reader nuggets that turn into gems as the story unfolds. It’s the perfect thriller for those who love to try and figure out the mystery as they read.  From the inner workings of the American legal system to the complex lines of code and analysis of biogenetic research, Abrams includes a vast amount of information that pulls the reader into the world of the novel. It can sometimes be a little difficult to digest, but Abrams seamlessly incorporates these details into the narrative to explain complex notions in layman’s terms.

It is refreshing to read a book with a Black woman protagonist that doesn’t centre around racism or her identity. Avery is just an unlucky bystander pulled into a whirlwind of corrupt politicians, hitmen, and pharmaceutical companies. But Avery is smart, stubborn, and uncompromising in her principles. She isn’t willing to lay down and allow external forces to play her like a chess piece. No, she digs for the truth and pursues a just resolution, even if she has to fight the Supreme Court to do it.

By Lizz Burrell

LIZZ BURRELL is a Publishing Assistant at Head of Zeus. She loves commercial fiction, with a particular weakness for crime and romance. In her spare time, she likes to take naps and try to learn to crochet. You can find her @LizzBurrell on Twitter and @readingismyfirstlove on Instagram.

STACEY ABRAMS is an American politician, lawyer, and activist. She began her career as an attorney in Atlanta, and by the age of 29, she was made a deputy city attorney for the City of Atlanta. In 2006 she made her debut in politics when she won the primary election for the Georgia House of Representatives District 89. In 2010 she was elected minority leader, where she served until 2017. In 2019 she was the first African American woman to give the response to the State of the Union address. Alongside campaigning for fairer voting rights, both in Georgia and across the country, Stacey Abrams has written 8 romance novels under the pen name, Selena Montgomery. Her non-fiction books, Lead from the Outside and Our Time is Now, were both New York Times bestsellers. While Justice Sleeps is her first thriller. You can find her @staceyabrams on Twitter and on her website.

While Justice Sleeps: A stunning legal thriller with a medical conspiracy that will keep you on the edge of your seatWhile Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams
Published by Doubleday on 11 May 2021
Genres: African American, Legal thriller, Politics, Suspense
Pages: 367
Format: Hardcover
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four-stars

Avery Keene, a brilliant young law clerk for the legendary Justice Howard Wynn, is doing her best to hold her life together--excelling in an arduous job with the court while also dealing with a troubled family. When the shocking news breaks that Justice Wynn--the cantankerous swing vote on many current high-profile cases--has slipped into a coma, Avery's life turns upside down. She is immediately notified that Justice Wynn has left instructions for her to serve as his legal guardian and power of attorney. Plunged into an explosive role she never anticipated, Avery finds that Justice Wynn had been secretly researching one of the most controversial cases before the court--a proposed merger between an American biotech company and an Indian genetics firm, which promises to unleash breathtaking results in the medical field. She also discovers that Wynn suspected a dangerously related conspiracy that infiltrates the highest power corridors of Washington. As political wrangling ensues in Washington to potentially replace the ailing judge whose life and survival Avery controls, she begins to unravel a carefully constructed, chesslike sequence of clues left behind by Wynn. She comes to see that Wynn had a much more personal stake in the controversial case and realizes his complex puzzle will lead her directly into harm's way in order to find the truth.