Test of Resolve, by Peter Murphy

Posted on 3rd Jun 2014 in Reviews

Reviewed by Paul Magrath

Stolen elections, military coups, kidnapping, extortion and terror. We may think these things only happen in unstable third world countries, but Peter Murphy shows how close to home – to the White House itself – these things could come.

Test of Resolve
In his first political thriller, REMOVAL, Murphy showed us how a presidential sex scandal and the ensuing impeachment proceedings could unravel into a constitutional crisis bringing the nation to the brink of civil war.

In its sequel, TEST OF RESOLVE, the first woman US president finds herself besieged by religious extremists at home, and a devious terror organisation abroad. Where her left wing liberal past once provoked a violent domestic plot in REMOVAL, now her sexual orientation threatens to provoke a similar backlash.

Then her lover’s daughter, a law student studying in Cambridge, falls victim to a desperate kidnapping plot. As a woman and step mother, Ellen Trevathan can think only of how to obtain the girl’s release. But as US President, she cannot begin to contemplate the unthinkable act of state which the ransom note demands. Plunged into a moral and constitutional crisis, this is truly a test of her resolve – and that of the few key allies she can rely on.

As a fellow lawyer (and Middle Templar) I like to savour the legal and constitutional issues which the former barrister, law professor and now judge Peter Murphy brings to bear on the intricate plotting of his political thrillers based on the turbulent life of a fictitious female US president, Ellen Trevathan. But as a reader, I just want devour the gripping story as it unfolds towards its nail-biting conclusion. REMOVAL was superb. Its sequel, TEST OF RESOLVE, is even better.

Though I am keenly looking forward to yet another volume in the series, I cannot begin imagine what fresh legal, constitutional and political issues will be tested to destruction next time round.

Incidentally, Murphy is also the author of a series of legal tales based on the career of Ben Shroeder, making his way as a young barrister in the England of the 1960s. I reviewed the first of these, A HIGHER DUTY, on this blog. A sequel, entitled A MATTER FOR THE JURY, based on a sordid sex murder at a time when the death penalty could still be imposed, will follow later this year. His Honour Judge Murphy’s name may also be familiar as the judge who gave the well-known “niqab” ruling. (See also: Further reflections on the Niqab Ruling)