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Caswell “Cash” Harrison, the protagonist in this legal thriller set during World War II, is a fortunate young man. Fresh out of Columbia Law School, his family ties to the network of Philadelphia patricians promises him a cozy legal career. But having failed his military physical on a technicality, Harrison winds up in Washington, D.C., as a clerk to Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Hugo Black, toiling at the mundane task of screening petitions of certiorari to determine the cases that are relevant for the court to hear.

Soon, however, Harrison finds himself caught in a web of intrigue, and what at first seems to be a typical Washington tug-of-war between conservatives and liberals transforms into something more sinister, including murder.

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