Author: Joseph Finder

Publisher: Dutton

ISBN: 978-0-525-95462-0

Joseph Finder has once again provided his readers with a first-rate crime thriller with his Guilty Minds where a popular and trashy Internet website, Slander Sheet is about to publish a devastating article about the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Gideon Claflin. Mandy Seeger, a hotshot investigative reporter, who once was employed by The Washington Post claims to have sufficient evidence to expose Claflin as being involved in regular liaisons with a high class and expensive escort, Kayla Pitts at the Hotel Monroe in Washington, D.C Apparently, Pitts was paid by someone to pass on the raunchy information to Seeger.

Nick Heller, a private investigator is contacted by attorney, Gideon Parnell, who was a legend and the ultimate Washington insider with extensive connections and friends everywhere. Parnell tells Heller that a dear friend of his is about to be viciously defamed by Slander Sheet and this would mean the end of his career. As it turns out, the friend is Claflin whom Parnell can vouch for as someone with impeccable moral character who would never be involved in this kind of dalliance. Heller's task is to discredit the story which Parnell claims to be totally false and malicious, although it has been meticulously prepared and on the surface looks plausible. The story would have been already published, however, Parnell informs Heller that he made a deal with Slander Sheet whereby they would be giving him forty-eight hours before the piece goes live. Consequently, Heller has little time to make sure the story is blown apart and exposed as being blatantly false and libellous.

Heller manages to meet with Pitts by passing himself off as someone hired by Slander Street to verify her story about Claflin before it goes public. During the course of their conversation, Heller suspects that Pitts is in trouble and tells her that he believes someone is paying her to lie, but she is not just doing it for the money, as they have her scared about something. Pitts in turn tells Heller that he is not from Slander Sheet and she does not need his help. When she runs away, Heller notices that a heavy set man is loping after her who turns out to be an ex-cop.

As the investigation proceeds, Heller discovers that Claflin never had any encounters with Pitts at the hotel and with this information in hand decides to meet with Seeger to warn her that her story will be blown to bits which in turn will mean that her credibility will be on the line. Unfortunately, Seeger's story is published prior to the forty-eight hours promised to Parnell causing quite a bit of tongue wagging. As predicted by Heller, the story is eventually discredited and Seeger is thrown out of Slander Street with her reputation in tatters. The yarn, however, doesn't end there and Heller and Seeger find themselves thrown together in determining who was behind the malicious rumor. It even becomes more complicated when Pitts is found dead of an apparent suicide.

What we have here is an intricate fast-moving tale stuffed with a great deal of second guessing knitting together the dangers of salacious Internet tabloid reporting with the world of sophisticated technological information involving computer and mobile phone forensics, computer hacking and security locks that are all used to outsmart the bad guys. Once again Finder illustrates how he knows the value of careful construction, exhaustive research, good writing and characterization that all adds up to quite a fast read.