Monday, September 16, 2019

Justice Gone - N. Lombardi Jr.

We seem to be living in a world in which few of us really trust anyone in authority anymore – we are all cynics. Elected officials, law enforcement officers, news media employees, and federal and state bureaucrats have all been accused of pushing personal agendas with little fear of being held accountable for their unethical actions. Those of who grew up in what we want to believe were simpler times are probably more upset by this noxious atmosphere than those born into it during the last couple of decades. They have, after all, known no other world. 

Nick Lombardi has been around long enough to see the world for what it is – and having spent half of his life living outside the United States, he has seen it at its worst and at its best. Lombardi’s Justice Gonetakes a questioning look at what we call justicethese days, a concept that is not nearly as black and white as we naively used to believe that it was. The novel tackles several front-page issues that trouble this country: homelessness, the huge number of broken men and women being produced by America’s endless wars, the perception of racially motivated police brutality, government cover-ups, and out-of-control and unethical government prosecutors and investigators. But don’t let that scare you away because Justice Gone manages to do all of that within the framework of an intriguing legal thriller.

Justice Gone is book one in what Lombardi plans as a series featuring Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor in charge of a clinic specializing in helping damaged veterans put their lives back together before it is too late. Tragedy strikes when cops decide to arrest one of Tessa’s patients on the streets for a crime he knows nothing about. Not recognizing the veteran’s confusion and panic for what it really is, the cops viciously beat him to death right in front of a bus station surveillance camera. And when that tape is leaked to YouTube all hell breaks loose. 

Another of Tessa’s patients, Iraqi war veteran Donald Darfield, was the dead man’s best friend and because of something that happened in Iraq, he feels responsible for his friend’s life. Donald, though, has plenty of war-related problems of his own, and after viewing the YouTube video he disappears. When three of the policemen responsible for beating his friend to death are themselves murdered, it is inevitable that Donald be charged with the crimes. And this is when Justice Gone becomes a legal thriller.

Nicholas Lombardi Jr.
Lombardi takes his readers through the whole legal process, all the way from jury selection, to evidence and witness gathering, to the legal strategies of both sides. In the process, he creates one of the most interesting defense teams that I’ve run across in a while: a colorful father-daughter team that manages to turn Nathanial Bodine’s physical handicap into a distinct advantage. Mr. Bodine is blind but that doesn’t mean the man can’t see. He has developed his other senses so acutely that he always knows exactly where he is in the courtroom – unless he wants to pretend otherwise for his own reasons. He and Emily have been working together long enough to have their routine so perfectly choreographed that it appears spontaneous to jurors. And it works every time. Any prosecutor underestimating the skills of Nathanial and Emily Bodine is making the mistake of his life.

Bottom Line: Justice Gone is a beautifully set-up legal thriller, and fans of the genre are certain to be entertained by the efforts of the Bodine legal team. While I am curious about what the second Tessa Thorpe novel will offer, I am just as caught up by a wish to see the Bodines in action again. My only quibble with this one is that the book’s “big reveal” seems a little sudden in appearance and resolution considering the length of its buildup. 

Review Copy provided by publisher

Book Number 3,439

10 comments:

  1. This sounds good. Sometimes fiction is the best way to understand issues like homelessness, the problems of veterans, racial discrimination and prejudices, and corruption in government and industry.

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    1. If I recall correctly, the novel is set in the years 2006 and 2007, but we have pretty much the same problems in 2019. Sadly enough, not much as changed for the better.

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  2. I'm not really a fan of courtroom type plots but you make this sound very good so will check it out at some stage. You're right though, for our generation things do seem worse these days than they ever were. Certainly I've never experienced the kind of toxic atmosphere that exists today in the UK, before. It feels like the new norm. I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

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    1. I'm a fan of courtroom drama going back, I guess, to all those Perry Mason novels I read as a kid. My favorite thing about Justice Gone is Mr. Bodine, the attorney who defended the Iraqi vet in the murder trial. I really think he would make a better series character, but I'm sure that Mr. Lombardi has something totally different in mind for his choice of leads.

      It's a toxic atmosphere here, too, Cath. When I find myself wondering whether I can wear a red baseball cap out in public (like I do) without getting punched in the face by some tolerant leftist, we have reached rock bottom. It doesn't even matter if the cap is a political one or not; its very color can get you in trouble. That's just silly - and very, very wrong.

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    2. Hi Sam
      First, I want to thank you for the effort you put in your rather eloquent and astute review. Much appreciated.

      Second - you might be happy to hear that Mr. Bodine will be back in an even more dramatic criminal case - I about to begin work on that.

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    3. You just made my day, Nick. That guy is a hoot for sure and I enjoyed watching him so consistently stay one step ahead of the other team. I'll look forward to the new one.

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  3. I've read this book and it truly is a great read, deserving of all the awards it got. You can see my review at:
    https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2821245694

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  4. This one does sound good. And very timely, too. Gotta love a good legal thriller.

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    1. Definitely a page turner if you are into legal thrillers. I cut my teeth on courtroom dramas and still love them.

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