Judgment: A Novel

Judgment: A Novel

by Joseph Finder

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**The Instant NEW YORK TIMES Bestseller**

New York Times
 bestselling author Joseph Finder returns with an explosive new thriller
 about a female judge and the one personal misstep that could lead to her—and her family's—downfall.

It was nothing more than a one-night stand. Juliana Brody, a judge in the Superior Court of Massachusetts, is rumored to be in consideration for the federal circuit, maybe someday the highest court in the land. At a conference in a Chicago hotel, she meets a gentle, vulnerable man and has an unforgettable night with him—something she’d never done before. They part with an explicit understanding that this must never happen again.

But back home in Boston, Juliana realizes that this was no random encounter. The man from Chicago proves to have an integral role in a case she's presiding over—a sex-discrimination case that's received national attention. Juliana discovers that she's been entrapped, her night of infidelity captured on video. Strings are being pulled in high places, a terrifying unfolding conspiracy that will turn her life upside down.  But soon it becomes clear that personal humiliation, even the possible destruction of her career, are the least of her concerns, as her own life and the lives of her family are put in mortal jeopardy.

In the end, turning the tables on her adversaries will require her to be as ruthless as they are.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101985830
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/30/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 64,822
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Joseph Finder is the New York Times bestselling author of fourteen previous novels, including The SwitchGuilty MindsThe FixerSuspicionVanished, and Buried Secrets. Finder's bestseller Suspicion won the Barry Award for Best Thriller of the Year; Buried Secrets won the Strand Critics Award for Best Novel, and Killer Instinct won the International Thriller Writers’ Award for Best Novel. Other bestselling titles include Paranoia and High Crimes, which both became major motion pictures. He lives in Boston.

Read an Excerpt

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***

Copyright © 2018 Joseph Finder


A perfect May night in Chicago, warm but not quite balmy. A soft breeze coming in off the lake, carrying with it the faint murmurings of traffic from Michigan Avenue twenty floors below. Juliana was sitting alone on one end of a couch on the Peninsula's rooftop terrace, still wearing her conference lanyard, still wired from the speech she had given two hours earlier. She'd delivered a talk on the rules of evidence in front of five hundred people, and it had gone really well. She tended to be self-critical, but she also knew when she'd hit a home run. "Rules of evidence" wasn't exactly a sexy topic, but she had her own take on it, and people seemed to respond.

She'd just had a drink with six fellow attendees, all judges from Indiana, and she was talked out. Mostly she'd been the center of attention, which was flattering for a while, and then exhausting. For now, she wanted to sit by herself-not in her room, with CNN keeping her company, but out here on the terrace in the refreshing breeze off Lake Michigan. Be in her own head. She dropped her lanyard on the glass-topped coffee table and scanned an array of magazines fanned out in front of her. One caught her eye-a travel magazine with a cover story about Spain-and she started leafing through it, keeping one eye out for a server.

But she was still wired. Another drink? She almost never did that. One drink, that was her limit.

Her mother, Rosalind, had been a drinker. Rosalind never drank at work, but at night and particularly on the weekends she drank too much. When Juliana was twelve, Rosalind had taught her how to make a "pitcher of martinis," she called it, as if martinis were discrete entities with a shape and form, like eggs, and you could count how many were in the pitcher if you looked really hard.

So Juliana generally did what her mother couldn't: stopped at just one drink. But tonight she was wired and thought: What the hell. She waved over a server and was about to order another Sancerre when she changed her mind once again and ordered a Pellegrino and lime. She went back to her magazine-"The Unknown Mallorca," the piece promised. She felt someone's eyes on her, and she glanced up; when she saw nobody looking her way, she felt a little silly. Too much time in the spotlight, she told herself with a laugh. Having delusions of grandeur. Black Robe disease.

Juliana Brody was in her early forties, but as her mother liked to say immodestly, she had good genes. She looked younger. Rosalind had been beautiful. Juliana had long ago accepted the fact that she hadn't inherited her mother's looks, but she had her cheekbones and jawline, and the gray-blue eyes. And the russet hair-actually, L'Oreal called it "red brown." And then there was all the time Rosalind used to spend tending to her appearance, while Juliana couldn't be bothered.

Again she felt that strange sensation of being watched. She noticed a man in a charcoal suit making his way in her direction. He was tall, early thirties, with an olive complexion and wavy dark-blond hair that fell below his collar. She didn't recognize him. Maybe he was attending the legal conference too.

"Is this seat taken?" he asked. "Or am I interrupting?"

She gestured noncommittally to the chair by the couch. Her gaze could sometimes be stern and intimidating. "I'm not here for much longer, but help yourself."

Something about him gave off a slightly melancholy air, but he was a good-looking guy.

"Long day?" he asked.

She nodded. "And for you? Are you here with the law conference?"

"Venture capital. I think there are three conferences going on here this weekend." He paused, took in the magazine. "Planning a visit to Spain?"

"Looking at rentals in Costa Brava. In my dreams, mostly." She drained the last few drops of her seltzer.

"You should go for real."

"Oh, Spain is my favorite place on earth."

"I just got back from Mallorca a couple days ago."

She tipped her head. "Nice vacation."

"On business, but still nice."

She put down the magazine. "Never been to Mallorca. I hear it's beautiful but overrun by tourists like me."

"Not if you know where to go."

She put out her hand. "Juliana Brody."

He shook it firmly. His hand was dry and smooth, his nails neatly trimmed. "Mat’as Sanchez." Just the faintest accent.

"You're Spanish?"

"Argentine. Spanish and Argentinians, we're like cousins." He shrugged.

"But you know Mallorca."

"Quite well. I travel a lot."

"So where do I have to go in Mallorca to escape the crowds?"

He paused briefly. "The most spectacular sunset you'll ever see happens at Cap de Formentor. You've got to drive up a terrifying little winding road, but by the time you get there it's worth it."


"Oh, and there's this great little restaurant in the old town called La B—veda, nothing fancy, but their tapas are to die for. And you can have a drink nearby at Abaco, this fourteenth-century house filled with flowers and baskets of fruit. You tell them Mat’as Sanchez sent you, they'll take care of you right."

"Okay, I'm sold." She laughed lightly. "When it comes to Spain." She flushed. Then, to cover her embarrassment, she gestured for the server, who'd miraculously appeared. She held up her glass of ice and mineral water. "Another one of these?"

He ordered an Ardbeg, ten years old, on the rocks.

"You know what?" she said. "I think I'd like another Sancerre after all."

The waitress gave a quick double head nod, like a shore bird swallowing a bread crust, and strode off.

"I'm afraid I was staring at you before," Mat’as said. "It's just that you remind me of someone I used to know." He smiled again, a nice, frank smile. He had a sexy gap between his front teeth.

"It happens with me a lot," Juliana said. She used to remind some people of the movie actress Amy Adams. "Used to" being the operative phrase, she thought.

And then: Is this guy actually hitting on me? It had been a while since she'd felt that particular buzz. This fellow-Mat’as-was easily ten years younger. And unnervingly handsome, she had to admit.

This is exactly the kind of thing I don't do, she thought. Would never do. She wanted to say to the guy: You've got me all wrong. She'd say, If you knew anything about me, you'd know I'm not your "live in the moment" kinda gal. You are wasting your time, buddy.

He tilted his head as if assessing her anew. "Know what's weird? Up close you don't look anything like her. It's just- I can't put my finger on it, it's something in the way you hold yourself. A kind of self-confidence, or maybe it's elegance, or both."

She felt herself blush, asked a question to cover her embarrassment. "So who do I almost look like?"

"The woman I used to be married to."

"Oh, I see. Nothing quite like being compared to a person's ex."

The server put down their drinks. Mat’as averted his gaze. "It's not like that. . . ."

"I was only teasing. And anyway I'm sure you have a girl in your life already."

"I do. An amazing, beautiful girl. She's everything to me."

He pulled out his phone and swiped at it. She leaned in close to him and looked. An actual girl, a cute little blonde, maybe seven or eight, a gap-toothed smile, sitting in a rowboat. A red-and-white-striped T-shirt. Not what she expected.

She caught him watching her and smiled.

"She's a darling. Is she with her mother?"

"Her mother . . ." He looked away, put the phone back in his jacket's breast pocket. She noticed tears in his eyes.

"Hey," she said, touching his wrist. "I didn't mean to . . ."

"No, it's . . . We were swimming in Costa Rica, a place called Playa Hermosa, and she . . ." He compressed his lips. "She was a terrific swimmer, but the riptide was too strong, and by the time . . ." His face seemed briefly to crumple in on itself; then, just as quickly, he recovered.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I thought this part of it was behind me." He got up, bowing his head in apology. Juliana reached out a hand, caught his forearm, beseeching him to stay.

"Sit, please," she said. "How long . . .? "

He picked up his drink, sipped, put it down. "Two years." He slowly sank into his chair. "I still can't really talk about it. I shouldn't have tried. I-I never do this. This isn't me."

"It's quite all right-Mat’as, is that right?"

"Yes. And-Juliana?" She nodded.

"I don't know you," he continued. "But I feel as if I do, that's the weird thing. Just something I saw when I looked at you. Don't ask me to explain."

"Okay, now you're going to have to explain."

"Well, I can try. You're beautiful, of course. But so many beautiful women have this icy reserve-they have to, it's how they protect themselves, keep guys out of their swim lane. But you-this is going to sound crazy. I saw a sense of a light inside you."

She blushed again, hoped it wasn't visible. "LED, I'm sure."

"You're making fun of me, and you should," he said, tipping his glass of Scotch toward her and taking a sip.

"No, I'm sorry, go on. What else did you see?"


Juliana reached for her wineglass, took a steadying sip. "Sure, why not?"

"I see a kind of . . . loneliness. Not by-yourself lonely. But lonely. Maybe because . . . well, didn't you say you're with the law conference? You are a lawyer? A judge?"

Juliana was momentarily speechless.

"I am so sorry," Mat’as said. "I swear I'm not normally like this. Let's blame the Ardbeg." He put his hand on hers briefly, and she felt the heat. "Four hours ago I killed a deal that looked great on paper until I met the management team. And I knew within two minutes these guys couldn't execute the plan. These were not the guys. Now, that's where my instincts are good."

She gave him a long look. "Maybe not just there," she said, and she took a good swig of the Sancerre.

They kissed leaning against the door to his suite. She could taste the single malt. She pulled back, took a breath. He smelled of wood smoke and leather. He found a tendril of her hair and ran his fingers under it, along her cheek. His eyes met hers for a moment. 'I wonder if you know how beautiful you are.'

She could feel the heat radiating off his body. "Tomorrow I'm flying off. Back to my life. This . . . this can't mean anything."

Something was happening inside her. Like a wave that suddenly, startlingly forms in a usually placid lake. A wave formed by that surprisingly good French Sancerre and some kind of reservoir of resentment at how goddamned predictable she'd become. Everybody knew she'd never do this. But shouldn't there be more to her than what everybody knew?

For just one night, she'd pretend to be that woman she's not. For just one night, she'd do what she never does. For just one night, she'd live a life that wasn't the one she'd so carefully mapped out.

Just one night.

He found his key card and the lock beeped open and he held the door.



The next afternoon, waiting for an Uber home from Logan Airport in Boston, she found herself in a reverie, replaying moments in her mind from the night before. She couldn't remember when she'd last been touched like that, by Duncan or by anyone else. It was as if he'd found her reset button; even now, her body hummed. At one point she had seen tears in his eyes, and she had wondered whether he was thinking of his late wife, making up for lost time.

Sitting on a corner of the king-size bed, she'd said, "I have a family."

"I understand," he'd replied, his voice gentle. "It can't happen again."

They were agreed.

She briefly wondered whether Duncan's "dalliance," as she thought of it, three years earlier, had played a role in her decision to go to Mat’as's hotel room. She didn't think so; she'd come to accept what had happened with him, and she wasn't a petty person. She didn't believe there was a balance sheet in a marriage, a ledger of rights and wrongs. In any case, the problems in their marriage, if she were being honest, were bigger than that one incident.

No, she had done something she'd never done before. She had taken a risk. She'd had a second drink. That wasn't her at all, that woman in the bar at the Peninsula. She was the A student, the obeyer of rules. Judge Juliana Brody: sensible, prudent, and cautious. Unlike her mother (and because of her mother, who lived in her own dream world), she had always been a planner, always been careful to put her foot right, choose the next step thoughtfully.

And then she had gone and done one single incautious, impetuous thing.

And was it so bad? It had been a lovely evening, actually. Maybe she needed to let go more often.

Now, an e-mail flashed her phone alive, and she glanced at it despite herself. The reality of daily life was beckoning, haranguing. Her Uber was arriving. She had a couple of texts too, a voice mail, and a shit-ton of e-mails to sort through.

An ordinary, prudent life to get back to. She greeted that prospect with some relief.

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Judgment: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
bookluvr35SL More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of this author, and I have to say that this may be his best work yet. Lots of action, enjoyable characters, and an amazing storyline. I could not put this book down. Definitely a must-read for all fans of suspense!
Ms-Hurst More than 1 year ago
A married judge approached by a strange man in bar in a strange city. What could possibly go wrong? Julianna finds out that it's a lot more than she would have thought. As she is confronted with the man she had a one night stand with, she starts to find that the conspiracy gets bigger and bigger. As the reader, sometimes it seemed as if it was getting too large. And the ending was wrapped up too easily for me, but I enjoyed the journey.
Ratbruce 4 months ago
This legal thriller grabbed my attention in the first few pages and never let go. Fast-paced, great characters and interesting twists. Highly recommended.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Fascinating! I couldn't put it down until the end. I love all of Joseph Finder's books, and they are a pleasure to read
GraceJReviewerlady 10 months ago
Oooh, this is superb!  Attention grabbing from the beginning unfolding into a riveting read! Juliana Brody is quite a woman. As a judge, she upholds the law to the fullest letter; as a person, she holds herself to the same high principles - until one day, she lets her moral judgement slip and despite her marriage, she sleeps with another man. Agreeing with him that they never contact each other again, she is utterly horrified when one week later he walks into her courtroom - but that is only the beginning . . . This is a totally different scenario to any other I've come across in a novel; the moral dilemma is in competition with everything else which is going on and it totally dominated my thoughts whilst I was reading it. I really wasn't sure where it was going - but, wow, what a story! Very cleverly structured, beautifully written in an easy flowing style which is so easy to read, I could hardly drag my focus away from it. With so many different ways this tale could go, I had no idea which direction it would take and the choices completely took me over. The final scenes are worth waiting for and left me with such a feeling of satisfaction at a wonderful novel, completely enjoyed. A stunningly great read, and one I totally recommend to every thriller lover and one which has earned every one of the full five stars I'm delighted to give it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent read. Kept me captivated and intrigued. Kept it moving and had a great closure.
gmcootie More than 1 year ago
There are a handful of authors that are on my Must Read list, and Joseph Finder is one of them. Judgment is why. Sure, sometimes the characters aren't very likable and behave in a way I wish they wouldn't, and some of the books are better than others. But always, always, always, without fail I am so caught up in the story that a few chapters in I cannot put the book down and read straight through. Even though the circumstances might not fit into my boring, normal life, the danger seems very real. Judgment is a product of our current times but also an age old story: a one-time lapse, a bad decision, that just keeps spiraling, and morals that start to shift to adapt to that spiral. Another quality addition to my Joseph Finder library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoy walking while listening to stories on my I-Pod. This book was fantastic! It's the kind of book that keeps me keep walking.
diane92345 More than 1 year ago
Married Superior Court Judge Juliana fails to use good Judgment and has an one-night stand at an out-of-town conference. Juliana decides to never repeat her mistake and returns to her courtroom. Unfortunately, she then sees the man sit down as a member of the defense counsel. The man blackmails her to rule in favor of the defense. He threatens to tell her family of their tryst if she doesn’t throw the case. The case, regarding a hostile workplace environment, is high profile so Juliana uses her connections to fight back. The feeling of dread and the fast pacing really works in Judgment. However, some of the plot strains belief. Russian mobsters, really? Juliana begins as a lower level judge who obviously doesn’t think through some of her actions. She ends up as someone who really should be in a superhero movie. I have never read this author’s work before and I can’t see myself reading it again. It is as if he took all the trendy tropes (Russian mafia, #metoo movement, advanced military technology, non-subtle digs at President Trump) and developed a plot around them with a strong female heroine (also trendy) without thinking whether any of it could realistically happen. Judgment didn’t work for me so I’m giving it 2 stars. Thanks to Dutton and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Robynn More than 1 year ago
This is not his best work. I found it slow and at times unbelievable. Not fast paced and page turning as his previous works.
tschnitzler More than 1 year ago
Judge Brody is one brave, determined woman! While in Chicago on business, Judge Brody makes an incredible mistake. Little did she know, her mistake was intended. Her husband is a kind, loving man that every woman should be as lucky to have, and once the lies upon lies are confessed, he so comes through for her. Good interesting read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never disappointing, this is the best Finder novel I’ve read. I could not put it down. The court case, a sub plot in itself, is a setting for international influence peddling at the highest levels of finance and governance and the attendant risks to those whose enterprises may intersect.
nfam More than 1 year ago
One Miss Step: A Judge Faces Career Disaster, Family Ruin, and Even Death Juliana Brody, a judge on the Superior Court of Massachusetts, is relaxing at a conference having given a well received talk on the rules of evidence. She’s happy, but tired, relaxing with a drink when an attractive man joins her. Although she’s never done it before, she succumbs to temptation and sleeps with him thinking that no one will ever know. Back home she’s presiding in a sexual harassment case that has received national attention. Unexpectedly, the man from the conference appears in her court room, although they’d agreed that they would never meet again. Juliana knows she’s made a big time mistake when he shows her a video of their encounter and tells her that it will be made public unless she agrees to rule in favor of the company in the sexual harassment case. Her career, her family and even her life are in danger while she tries to decide how to handle the scandal that is brewing in her life. If you enjoy legal thrillers, this is a fast paced one with good characters. The plot involves current legal issues like “me too” law suits and conspiracy by Russian oligarchs. As the plot evolves the issues entwine to give an exciting ending. Juliana is a good female character. She’s done something uncharacteristic, and now she must rely on her strength to keep her life together and serve the cause of justice. I received this book from Penguin Random House for this review.
3no7 More than 1 year ago
“Judgment” by Joseph Finder poses the question “How much will a mother, wife, judge, do to protect her family?” It is a story rich in complexity and moral challenges. Judge Juliana Brody is Chicago on a business trip when she meets Matías Sanchez. It was just one night, but a night that will change everything about her life forever. Juliana’s husband, Duncan, is a professor at New England Law. There were a few problems in their marriage, if she were being honest, that were bigger than that one incident, three years previously. Daughter Ashley, eighteen, is working in Africa during a “break year” between high school and college. Jake, sixteen, is in remission from childhood leukemia, but like a shark’s fin in the water, the possibility of a relapse always lurks around. He is in academic trouble at school and is using marijuana via a vape pen. Very soon, none of these problems will matter. Judge Brody is handling several cases, but one, “Rachel Meyers v. Wheelz,” is complex, troubling, and taking too long. A young woman is suing a hot new ride‑hailing start‑up for sex discrimination. In the midst of the proceedings, a new member of the defense team is introduced, Matías Sanchez. She slowly understands that she has been used, seduced, set up. Then, someone is dead. The plot revealed as Juliana Brody sees the world. Readers learn about her, her family, and her work. Little details make the characters come alive, what they wear, what they eat, and what they like to do. Finder creates tension that permeates even everyday activities; fear and danger hang on every page, over every mundane event, in every conversation, and around every corner. Readers connect with Brody, become part of the process, make discoveries, weigh choices, and fear the outcome. The body count rises as layer after layer of deception is peeled away to find the rotten evil core. Readers keep turning pages searching for clues, and looking for options and solutions. Then, there is a plan. Finder has created a complicated web of double cross, espionage, financial impropriety, and international conspiracy at the highest levels. “Judgement” is a compelling story of corporate misdeeds, corruption, and just plain dirty work of the utmost nastiness. Readers should plan time wisely because once one starts reading, it is impossible to put down. I received a review copy of “Judgement” from Joseph Finder, Dutton, and Penguin Publishing Group.
carol223CS More than 1 year ago
Joseph Finder’s Judgement Stunning, riveting and emotional read!! A fresh, uniquely page turner with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The tension was very thick and well sustained throughout the story. The characters were well developed, very interesting and very realistic. A Highly Recommended Read! I volunteered to read Judgment. Thanks to Penguin’s First-to-Read Program for the opportunity. My opinion is my own.