THE NOMINATION – William Tapply

Another very good review from Gloria Feit –

“The Nomination” is a posthumously released novel by William Tapply,
and a terrific one it is.

Thomas Larrigan is about to be nominated by the American President to
fill the seat on the U. S. Supreme Court of an associate justice on
the verge of retirement.  He, of course, needs to be vetted before the
inevitable Senate confirmation hearings, and even before his
nomination is publicly announced.  At first blush his bona fides
appear to be impeccable:  A youthful-looking 59 years old, handsome
despite his black eye patch, he was a Marine lieutenant, decorated
Vietman vet, who had been awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart; he
has a reputation as an “intrepid prosecutor, tough on criminals,
elected twice as crime-busting District Attorney, once as state
Attorney General, self-respected Federal District Court judge, loving
family man.”  [It doesn’t hurt that he occasionally plays golf with
the President.]

As the president is told, “Larrigan’s perfect.  Almost too good to be
true.”  Of course, as the author points out, “if you looked close
enough, you’d find a skeleton in every closet in America.  If you
looked close enough, you wouldn’t find anybody who’d qualify for the
Supreme Court.  Old dusty skeletons, long dead.  Skeletons can’t tell
stories.”  Some of those skeletons are not quite dead, it soon
appears.  In the process, several lives are linked in disparate ways,
some characters confronting their past, others running from theirs,
including events from the Vietnam era that had/have life-changing
effects.  The author skillfully weaves these threads together, and
when this reader thought she knew what was coming, unexpected plot
developments proved me wrong.

Others caught in the web of the vetting process include Jessie Church,
who had worked for 18 months as an undercover cop in Baltimore, now
working as a private investigator; Simone Bonet, cult film goddess who
has dropped out of sight; Mac Cassidy, celebrity ghostwriter
recovering from the death a year earlier of his wife and now trying to
raise their teenage daughter by himself; among others.  Each of these
is a fully fleshed-out character brought to wonderful life in the
hands of Mr. Tapply.  This is a beautifully written tale of love and
loss, full of suspense but still managing to tug at the heart.
Nearing the end of the book, I did something I had never done before:
I had gripped the bottom corner of the page so tightly in my fingers
that a small piece was ripped out.

I felt it might be appropriate to include here the following,
contained in an epilogue to this novel, in part wrapping up the tale
and spoken by Mac Cassidy, but which I suspect were also Mr. Tapply’s
thoughts about his own writing process:  “Eight hundred words a day,
through sleet and snow and flu-like symptoms.  That’s how books got
written.  Not in great bursts of inspiration.  You wrote a book one
painful sentence at a time.  Eight hundred words a day, which was a
lot of sentences, whether it took an hour or ten hours.”  It is our
loss that this is the last book from this author we will have the
pleasure of reading.  It is, obviously, highly recommended.

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