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The Justice

By Angela Elwell Hunt


*Starred Review* Hunt's The Justice is about the first woman vice-president, Daryn Austin, who becomes president when the sitting president dies. President Austin concentrates on domestic affairs and on being reelected. She shows herself to be a steady hand in a crisis, and her popularity rises. Then she brings in an old lover to be White House counsel, Cuban American Paul Santana, known for fighting against the return to Cuba of Elian Gonzalez. Rapidly, the two become lovers again. Paul is torn, however, over his disloyalty to his wife and daughter, and the president overplays her hand when she appoints him to the Supreme Court in an attempt to influence their agenda on women's issues. Hunt makes a good many references to the Clinton presidency, and in her chronology, Austin would be president now, rather than George Bush. This takes the novel down some mistaken paths, particularly given the huge shift in world affairs after September 11. Still, Hunt's evocation of a woman in power ("You have to play nice with girls, but if you're sharp and think ahead, you can beat them") is always suspenseful, seldom predictable, and frequently insightful. John Mort
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