Judges: The Avalanche by Michael Carroll
Rebellion, ebook, £2.48
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
United States of America, 2033 A.D. Special Prosecutor Eustace Fargo has implemented controversial and unpopular new justice laws to combat corruption and lawlessness including a new type of police force; the Judges. CJ, a newly appointed Judge, returns to her hometown for her brother’s birthday and to begin the process of replacing the existing police force. But within hours of arriving, she is murdered and dumped on the edge of town. Her fellow Judges must find her killer while trying to phase out the police and keep the locals onside. Is CJ’s death just a coincidence or an act of rebellion?
At a basic level, this is a Judge Dread prologue. The law that will eventually give us Judge Dread is in its infancy. The Judges terrify or anger people because of their freedom to impose the law and rumours of executions have reached every corner of America.
The book looks at justice and the pitfalls in the system as we know it now. What do you do with a prolific drunk driver who you can never catch in the act? Or a case of domestic abuse when the abused won’t speak up? These are cases the police struggle with while the Judges have the right to go anywhere and act on what they find immediately. There are no lawyers, no trials, no appeals. There is only the Judges’ final decision.
I found this a hard read. The Judges are so logical, calculated and confident, bordering on arrogant, they made me anxious. There is no compassion for the police who are considered part of the problem. They’re told to win the hearts and minds of the populace but their hard approach to upholding the law leads them to take actions which are shocking, but completely within their remit. After all, no Judge acts without a warning first.
Yet, I did enjoy this book, which is a strange conclusion for something that made me nervous. I enjoyed it because it made me feel something, even if it was unpleasant. There were times I had to put it down to process what had happened and what I thought about it. I loved the conflict it caused in me. It’s fast-paced and uncompromising, keeping true to the essence of the Judges.