Rufus Harms is rotting in a Virginia military prison. As readers learn in the terse opening of The Simple Truth, he was convicted 25 years ago of the brutal killing of a young girl. Readers also learn that Rufus did not commit the crime; out of a haze of memories and with fragments of evidence, he has reconstructed the truth about the horrid event that ruined his life. He knows his discovery could cost him his life, so he breaks from prison after sending an appeal to the Supreme Court that details a massive conspiracy tied into the foundations of Washington.The complex drama of Rufus Harms is only one of the interwoven threads in this massive, violent legal thriller that also draws from the vocabulary of hard-boiled crime fiction. Baldacci offers glimpses into the arcane politics of the high court, where Justice Elizabeth Knight wages war with the manipulative Chief Justice Harold Ramsay. And while Harms struggles to keep out of harm's way and the justices duke it out, Supreme Court law clerk Sara Evans toils with ex-cop John Fiske to discover the import of Harms's appeal (and, simultaneously, to uncover the murderer of Mike Fiske, John's lawclerk-brother and the original holder of the appeal). Their interest in the document apparently draws the attention of the same deadly conspirators who manipulated Harms over two decades earlier. While the armed mayhem sometimes rises to the point of excess, Baldacci's novel continues to offer new surprises until the final pages.