• Becca McCulloch

Review: Justice Gone

A beaten homeless vet. Three cops gunned down. A multistate manhunt. The trial of the decade.

A new kind of legal thriller

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

 A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr Tessa Thorpe, a veteran's counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa's patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield's dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?


Justice Gone reads breezily with elements of A Few Good Men mixed with Twelve Angry Men and a plot ripped from all-too-familiar headlines. 

As a procedural, the plot proceeds at a clipping pace. I read it in an hour and found the pages turned readily. Tessa is not the most fleshed-our of procedures protagonists but she carries the story well enough. I enjoyed each section as it raced toward its conclusion (which I admit was not my favorite part of the book).

Although I know it’s comment practice in procedural, I found the profanity distracting. I’ve been a medical person in downtown Los Angeles - none of us used this much profanity. I can’t speak for cops, but I was irritated that lawyers and doctors couldn’t get through a sentence without dropping an unnecessary expletive. It’s become an overused trope that distracts more than enhances narrative. 

Criticism of the industry aside, this was an intriguing thriller that will definitely excite fans of the genre. 

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Author Bio – N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People's Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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