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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
V.S. Kemanis' novel Power Blind is a well-crafted legal mystery, with two major subplots: an unsolved case of the murder of a police officer, and a civil case of a family's struggle to have the freedom to choose medical treatments for a terminal illness. The novel is set in 2022, in New York City, with flashbacks and backstories of characters. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on many aspects of law and order, in and out of the courtroom, is a powerful undercurrent in the novel. Dana Hargrove is an associate justice in the Appellate Division. She works with the other appellate judges to hear and decide on civil and criminal appeals from trial courts. One case involves the anguishing story of Josefina, 17, who has terminal Hodgkin's lymphoma disease. Josefina is hospitalized against her will, under a legal order by The Family Court. Her aunt Bianca is her guardian and only family. Bianca appeals the Family Court's order. The second case is the unsolved murder in 2020 of police officer Marlon Stokes. A fellow police officer, Corey McBride, is arrested for murder but a grand jury declines to charge him with the crime.
I greatly enjoyed reading V.S. Kemanis' Power Blind. I was drawn into the story for its compelling characters, its different and thought-provoking subplots, and strong themes of legal power and authority, ethical issues, family relationships, love, and loyalty. I liked Dana Hargrove's character: her intellectual capacity, legal experience, and expertise applied to complex legal cases. I liked her courage, determination, and unflinching stand on integrity and honesty as a judge and in her personal life. I thought Dana's family added great depth to the legal subplots. Her son Travis, an appellate attorney for the Administration for Children’s Services, is assigned to the civil case for which Dana is an appellate judge! I liked how that subplot, involving health decisions, grows more complex. When the novel's second subplot of a murder mystery began unfolding in greater detail, the story turned into a gripping page-turner for me. Dana's daughter Natalie is a Ph.D. candidate in cognitive psychology, studying how perceptions and memories affect witness testimony in criminal cases. Natalie turns her attention to the unsolved case of Marlon Stokes' murder. Power Blind is a fascinating and intricate legal story of a complex web of individual lives, incredible and difficult interpersonal dramas, and how people in power can be blind to the consequences of their decisions.