The Simple Truth by David Baldacci is the story of Rufus Harms, a large African American who has been imprisoned for the past twenty-five years for the murder of a small white child. It is also the story of John and Michael Fiske, estranged brothers who investigate the deadly secret behind Harm’s crime. Finally, The Simple Truth is a story of the inner workings of the United States Supreme Court.
The novel opens with Harms receiving a letter from the Army, a letter that returns his memory of the events surrounding the death of the child. As a consequence, Harms asks his lawyer to file an appeal with the Supreme Court. The brief, however, names highly -placed individuals in the conspiracy against Harms.
Michael Fiske, a clerk at the Court, intercepts the brief and decides to investigate. The decision costs him his life and leads to Harms’ escape from prison. These circumstances bring together John Fiske and Sara Evans, another Supreme Court clerk, who work together to find Michael’s murderers.
The plot quickly grows to enmesh an FBI agent, a Washington, D.C. cop, several Supreme Court justices, military personnel, and a United States Senator, all linked by the terrible secrets surrounding Rufus Harms.
Baldacci, the author of Absolute Power (1996), Total Control (1997), and The Winner (1997), once again offers a quickly-paced, tightly intertwined plot. Baldacci’s prose seems at times distractingly choppy, and the plot depends on a series of implausible coincidences before moving to a predictable conclusion. Fans of the legal thriller will no doubt forgive these shortcomings, finding in the novel the Grisham-like plotting they crave.