Lady Justice and the Watchers is a mystery/comedy novel in the series featuring retired real estate salesman, Walt Williams. Walt is part of Kansas City’s City Retiree Action Patrol, 68 years old and recently married to Maggie McBride. He owns a small apartment house where his dad and girlfriend Bernice reside, along with Jerry the Joker, a standup comic, Willie, the maintenance man, and The Professor, Leopold Skinner.
The main plot thread concerns Pakistani terrorists wanting to blow up Kauffman stadium during the Major League All Star game as revenge for deadly US drone attacks. But the central theme concerns how the influx of technology, while beneficial in many ways, is taking away our privacy (The bomb plot is resolved more from a psychological aspect, rather than security measures. Even terrorists can’t resist forming attachments with those they target).
The intricacies of Onstar, GPS, cell phone tracking, coupon tracking, check out scanning, credit card info storage are covered, as well as the dangers of flu shots, the unnecessary administration of other shots to children, the questionable value of PSA tests for men and the insertion of cookies on one’s computer.
Also covered in the story—using characters and incidents like two kidnappings, an auto accident, a bomb being defused and the illegal distribution of prescription drugs—are the dangers of food additives, fluoride in the water, a secret five nation organization called Echelon that enables foreign governments to spy on us, violating our Constitution.
By interspersing these incidents with the above information, Thornhill keeps the narrative flying. He shows both sides of the technology conundrum and his point about social media usurping the monopoly traditional media once had is well taken.
The reader has to suspend disbelief and accord poetic license on some points. Thornhill’s explanation of the origin of the City Retiree Action Patrol is in another book in this series, but it is hard to accept any major police department would enlist untrained seniors for police work. Also, as a former real estate man, Willie should not be so naïve about some of the tech advances that are painstakingly explained to him.
Described as a mystery/comedy novel, the juxtaposition is sometimes awkward. But the sheer amount of information and the theme of being vigilant in watching the watchers make this an important enough story to overlook the defects.
Reviewed by Joe Del Priore for IndieReader