Simple Justice (Benjamin Justice Series #1)

( 1 )

Overview

Following the death of his lover and a scandal involving his Pulitzer Prize-winning article, crime reporter Benjamin Justice has fallen into a hazy, alcoholic reclusiveness, hiding out in the West Hollywood neighborhood known as the Norma Triangle. He is called back to the world of the living by an unexpected, and unwelcome, visit from Harry Brofsky, his former boss. Brofsky wants Ben to do some background work (strictly off the record) with another reporter on the investigation...
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Simple Justice

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Overview

Following the death of his lover and a scandal involving his Pulitzer Prize-winning article, crime reporter Benjamin Justice has fallen into a hazy, alcoholic reclusiveness, hiding out in the West Hollywood neighborhood known as the Norma Triangle. He is called back to the world of the living by an unexpected, and unwelcome, visit from Harry Brofsky, his former boss. Brofsky wants Ben to do some background work (strictly off the record) with another reporter on the investigation of a seemingly motiveless killing outside a local gay bar.

Sucked in for reasons even he doesn't quite understand, Justice finds himself back in the life of gay bars, spurned lovers, dysfunctional families, and tawdry secrets--all the things he had been trying to escape. While fending off passes from his sexy, young female partner, he finds himself falling hopelessly in love with the man he must ultimately nail for murder--a killing that turns out to have far more personal and political implications than a simple bias crime.

Simple Justice is a subtly plotted mystery that takes a piercing look at not only violent crime but violations of the heart and soul in the sometimes glamorous, more often dark and dangerous gay life of West Hollywood.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The noir L.A. trappings that surround gay journalist Benjamin Justice are as thick as the plot of this fiction debut is thin. After an abusive childhood, the disgrace of handing back a Pulitzer Prize, a cherished lover dead from AIDS and several years on the sauce, Ben is suddenly handed a much-needed second chance from Harry Brofsky, his old editor. A young man has been killed outside a gay bar in West Hollywood, and Ben is soon back to a life he left behind, cruising the bars, looking for information. He quickly falls into a brutal relationship with a sexually confused young Latino. He also lusts after the son of a homophobic politician and has to fend off the unwanted advances of a long-legged woman journalist. Wilson burdens his cast with enough emotional baggage for a half-dozen afternoon talk shows, and he lets his sleuth in for a lot of rough sex. As a functioning mystery, the tale has plenty of characters but few fully developed suspects; the investigation closes predictably with a fact already well established. Wilson's vivid description of young gay life on the streets of West Hollywood is poorly served by his pedestrian plotting. (Aug.)
Library Journal
This debut mystery by a gay West Hollywood freelance journalist is no subtle Dave Brandstetter novel (from Joseph Hansen's books). Benjamin Justice is a fallen idol, a writer who had a Pulitzer yanked from him for apparently making up the characters in his story of a man dying of AIDS and his lover. Now down and out, a recovering alcoholic (he only drinks wine after 5 p.m.), he is approached by his former editor (at the sleazyish LA Sun) to help an up-and-coming reporter-a black woman knockout named Templeton-investigate the murder of a gay man. The gay sex is graphic, Templeton's efforts to come on to Justice annoyingly stereotypical, the murderer not so surprising. Nevertheless, the trail is good, with lots of red herrings and LA local color. Not a Walter Mosley, who Morgan says inspired him, but recommended.
Kirkus Reviews
Six years after returning his Pulitzer, Benjamin Justice gets a visit from Harry Brofsky, the former Los Angeles Times editor he got fired along with himself over a fraudulently fictionalized AIDS human-interest story. Harry, now at the fly- by-night L.A. Sun, wants Justice to work on a sidebar to the story that up-and-coming Alex Templeton's writing on the shooting of Billy Lusk outside a gay bar in the Boy's Town neighborhood. The killing seems open-and-shut: Teenaged gangbanger Gonzalo Albundo, found at the scene, has already confessed. But after the obligatory protests, Justice, like an old firehorse that can't ignore the bell, gets his teeth into the story and won't let go. Albundo, he realizes, doesn't belong to any gang, and his confession is as phony as Justice's Pulitzer article. Martyred Billy was no saint, either; he was a blackmailing cokehound who kept a bulging photo file of all his lovers. The outraged citizens baying for blood, from Albundo's homophobic brother Luis to smiling Senator Paul Masterman, all have something to hide. When his questions lead him to a closeted tennis pro and the secret her powerful p.r. flack Queenie Cochran is hiding, Justice ignores Brofsky's obligatory attempts to pull him off what's turned into a hot potato and follows the story from the Out Crowd bar to the Boy Meets Grill, and to a solution readers of every sexual orientation will have spotted long before he does.

Wilson telegraphs each punch like a man who just can't keep a secret to himself. But sensitive Justice, once he's come to terms with his demons, should be well worth an encore.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781602820579
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
  • Publication date: 8/12/2008
  • Series: Benjamin Justice Series , #1
  • Pages: 302
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2013

    Benjamin Justice is so tortured he makes Brandstetter and Rios (

    Benjamin Justice is so tortured he makes Brandstetter and Rios (leads of other well regarded top notch mystery series with gay protagonists) look happy go lucky. He's a fascinating complex character who makes for a marvelous narrator - razor sharp intelligence, acerbic, cynical, compassionate, vulnerable, dangerous, tough as nails, self-loathing and destructive (not because he's gay), but self aware and a great investigative journalist.

    It's evident John Morgan Wilson, a journalist and former editor at the LA Times knows this profession inside out and what it takes to truly investigate a story as you see Justice doing his legwork and collecting his clues. Wonderful writing, complex characterization and a marvelous sense of time and place make it a great start to mystery series.

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