John Morgan Wilson is a veteran journalist, TV documentary writer, and fiction writer. He’s perhaps best known for his dark, hard-edged Benjamin Justice mystery series, which has won the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award (the “Edgar”) for best first novel from Mystery Writers of America and three Lambda Literary Awards for best gay men’s mystery from the Lambda Literary Foundation. The eighth Justice novel, Spider Season, will be published in December, 2008 from St. Martin's Minotaur. His short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Blithe House Quarterly. For more than twenty-five years, he has been an instructor with the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. He lives in West Hollywood, California.
Simple Justiceby John Morgan Wilson
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When a pretty-boy cokehead is murdered outside a gay bar in a working class district of Los Angeles, and a young Latino quickly confesses to the crime, it appears the case is closed. Benjamin Justice, a disgraced former reporter with the Los Angeles Times, is lured out of his alcoholic seclusion to look more deeply into the murder. But why would a teenager confess to a brutal gang initiation killing he didn’t commit? Only Benjamin Justice understands, but with his credibility shattered, no one’s listening. As Justice threads his way through a colorful gallery of suspects, he’s thrust back into the world of gay bars and haunting memories that he’s tried to put behind him since the death of his lover from AIDS six years earlier, an event that precipitated the Pulitzer scandal that destroyed his promising career. With Justice teetering on an emotional brink, his reluctant new partner, Los Angeles Sun reporter Alexandra Templeton, must solve the riddle of Justice’s own dark past to save him. Together, with her deadline looming, they confront the real killer, using every bit of journalistic skill they can muster to pin that person to the crime.
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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.