Smashwords This is a thought-provoking story set in the near future. It brings together a black single mother living in the projects, a former Secret Service agent who is emotionally numbed by a personal tragedy, the Attorney General of the US who happens to be a lesbian, and a charismatic leader of an Oregon based movement--the Alliance--that superficially looks like it just might be a religious cult.
The action revolves around a recent implementation of a new legal system that the Alliance has managed to create in Oregon. Guns as we know them are outlawed, replaced by highly effective, but non-lethal, defensive weapons that seem technologically plausible. A slight, but very believable, twist in the reading of the Fifth Amendment brings drastic change to the nature of trials. The biggest imaginative stretch is the correctional system which is horribly draconian in some respects, but offers an out€¯ to those who might seek personal redemption.
While this is definitely a book with a socio-political message, it avoids falling into several traps. The message emerges through the actions and dialogue of the story. There are none of the long, preachy monologues that some authors will use to explicate their vision. The main characters, at least, are far from stereotypical cardboard cut-outs. They have layers of mixed feelings and mixed motives. I did feel, however, that the author tried to move the action along too quickly at some points. Two of the characters made very serious decisions far more quickly and readily than would have seemed natural given the circumstances and those mixed feelings/motives. Both the above strengths and weaknesses may well be explained by the fact the author has apparently spent some time writing screenplays.
Wherever you stand on the current state of our society, gun violence, or the criminal justice system; this bit of speculative fiction is worth a read. It has ideas that are worth thinking about.