Our system of justice is broken. More than one third of all murders are never solved. Mass killings are on the rise. Predatory criminals and companies victimize millions of people and are never brought to justice.
In Ultimate Verdict, we follow the trials and travails of Judge Raleigh Westlake, a federal judge who presides in Asheville, North Carolina. After a dozen years on the bench, he lands his first murder case — the brutal stabbing of a young woman on a snow-covered mountain. The killer is convicted and given the death penalty, but the appellate court reverses the conviction on a technicality, and the killer must be freed. Judge Westlake decides to take a stand.
In a secret, mobile courtroom, the Judge brings the killer to trial a second time, and this time there is no appeal. The killer is executed at sunrise on a beach in Florida. If the system worked, he wouldn’t have to resort to vigilante justice. To ensure the secrecy of their mission, the Judge and his loyal cohorts must operate in the dark, disguising the death sentences as accidents or suicides.
But when a United States Congressman gets away with a massive Ponzi scheme, ruining the lives of thousands, the cabal must send a message. The Congressman is tried in the secret courtroom in the semi-trailer and sentenced to death by rattlesnake. In the ensuing manhunt for the vigilantes, Judge Westlake must confront his own guilt and a traitor in their midst. With the FBI closing in, will the vigilantes be forced to face their own lawlessness, or will they survive to continue their quest for ultimate justice?
Now that summer reading season is upon us, I’d like to recommend “Cried for No One,” the debut novel of retired attorney Hubert Crouch. The novel is a page-turner that delves into the relationships between attorney and paralegal, and father and son, underlying a fast-paced plot that’s part courtroom drama and part murder mystery. The story is authentic, taking the reader through twists and turns that culminate in a thrilling, surprise ending.
I worked with Hubert at a Dallas law firm for a few years, and we’ve both taken to the writing path, churning out novels about the law. From my perspective, Hubert’s novels appear to have a bit of an autobiographical slant, as he provides intriguing details about the often hectic life of a trial lawyer, an insight often missing from stock legal thrillers. Read this book, and you won’t be disappointed.
Michael Winstead, Author Ultimate Verdict Ultimate Deception
I wanted to share the exciting news that Ultimate Deception: The Secret Tribunal, has officially been released on Amazon, available in ebook and paperback. It will soon be available in bookstores.
This is the second book in the Ultimate series. The first book–Ultimate Verdict— has sold thousands of copies and received excellent reviews. Thanks to all of my readers and fans.
Summary: A Judge holds secret trials in a mobile courtroom. A prosecutor is blinded by revenge. A Russian spy embedded in America weaves a web of deception and carries out acts of terrorism. In this second installment in the Ultimate series, the secret tribunal, led by Judge Raleigh Westlake, must confront enemies from within. Their quest for justice for innocent victims leads them straight into the path of a Russian terrorist. As they become the targets, the cabal must confront their most difficult dilemma. Do they save themselves, or an innocent man?
Here are some ways you can support the book launch:
This review of Ultimate Verdict was posted on Amazon. These kind words are the very thing an author hopes for when toiling away, late at night, hoping that the story and characters come across as intended. It struck a cord in my heart, which is not as dark as some may think.
“Just finished reading my first Michael Winstead novel. His character development reads like an in depth picture of the person. You “see” them in a paragraph. No need for height, weight, eye color, etc. The circumstance not unusual, and I would have been happy just reading about the usual vigilante scenario. I’m pretty good at subconsciously guessing where a story is headed, and get mad when an ending doesn’t match up with the “clues”. It wasn’t until the last two pages that I got it… and it brought a smile to my face. “Of course”.
This author also has bypassed superfluous words and descriptions whose intention are to make the book reach the “necessary” 350+ pages that so many books now ascribe. I deplore that.
If you love legal intricacies, great character development, plausible scenarios and “can’t put it down” novels….. do not read any more reviews. GET THIS BOOK.”
There were no official trappings: no portraits of retired jurists; no government seals; no court reporter; no jury box. No microphones or computers or broad wooden tables for the lawyers. No Bible for swearing witnesses.
The courtroom, hastily constructed in a semitrailer, measured a mere eight feet wide by twenty-eight feet long.
Judge Westlake scanned the small room. An American flag draped a brass pole in the front corner. Maroon carpet concealed a pitted plywood floor. Brown sound-dampening panels lined the walls and ceiling of the trailer. Elevated insignificantly above the proceedings, the Judge nestled behind a small desk in a black nylon robe. Not his official robe, but one purchased at a costume store, complete with a white wig reminiscent of those worn by English barristers or constitutional statesmen. The Judge had discarded the wig, and his dark hair shimmered slightly under the fluorescent lights.
With hands clasped on the desk, he leaned forward. Steamy air inside the metal box, heated from a day in the sun, smelled of aftershave and sweat. And fear.
“The Court calls for trial the case of United States of America versus Henry Lyman Lawter.”
Ultimate Verdict, now in its second printing, received this recent five-star review from a reader.
“Right up there with the best of the legal thrillers !! Winstead is a new voice in this genre and definitely an “I can’t put this book down” read. And if you think you have it figured out, you’re wrong. Great finish !!! Highly recommend.”
In 2012, three men were killed on the street close to our law office. The homicides were heavily covered by the local media, and some of the stories even included photographs and video of blood stains on a bus and on the pavement where one of the men died.
In the interest of full disclosure, our law firm later represented one of the victims in a wrongful death suit against the bar where the assault originated. I drive by the bar almost every work day and often walk the sidewalk within a few feet of the crime scenes. Yes, there were two separate crime scenes because the assailant killed two men at a local drinking establishment before a mob chased the assailant across the street and beat or stabbed him to death. And as I walk past, I almost always think of what happened that evening — three lives lost and families destroyed.
There is no sign, no marker, no mention at all at the place where these people died. No flowers, no makeshift memorial, no ribbon. I wonder whether we have become so callous about violent death that we consciously choose to forget. Perhaps it is a defense mechanism to maintain our sanity in a world that is increasingly violent and terrifying. I don’t know the answer. I’m just making an observation. But perhaps in each individual inquiry lies some nugget of honesty that might just help us to prevent some of these violent crimes.
Thanks to you, Ultimate Verdict is now featured on the third page of “legal thrillers” on Amazon!
THANK YOU to everyone who has purchased and reviewed my book. If you have read the book and have not yet left a review, please consider doing so. The lifeblood of a new author is feedback and reviews, so please rate and review.