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It’s 1994, an election year when violent crime is rampant, voters want action, and politicians smell blood. When a Latino teenager confesses to the murder of a pretty-boy cokehead outside a gay bar in L.A., the cops consider the case closed. But Benjamin Justice, a disgraced former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, sees something in the jailed boy others don’t.
His former editor, Harry Brofsky, now toiling at the rival Los Angeles Sun, pries Justice from his alcoholic seclusion to help neophyte reporter Alexandra Templeton dig deeper into the story. But why would a seemingly decent kid confess to a brutal gang initiation killing if he wasn’t guilty? And how can Benjamin Justice possibly be trusted, given his central role in the Pulitzer scandal that destroyed his career? Snaking his way through shadowy neighborhoods and dubious suspects, he’s increasingly haunted by memories of his lover Jacques, whose death from AIDS six years earlier precipitated his fall from grace. As he unravels emotionally, Templeton attempts to solve the riddle of his dark past and ward off another meltdown as they race against a critical deadline to uncover and publish the truth.
Awarded an Edgar by Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel on initial release, this 25th Anniversary edition has been revised by the author. A foreword for the 2020 edition by Christopher Rice (Bone Music) is included.
Author: John Morgan Wilson
Paperback Published 10 September 2020 280 pages
"This moody first mystery ... isn't your typical day at the beach. But with its vivid dissection of Los Angeles lowlife and intriguing characters, you may find it tough to put down." - People, Beach Book of the Week
"Politically pungent, exactly observed, and conceding little comfort, Wilson is heir to the shockingly unsentimental vision of Patricia Highsmith." -Michael Bronski, Out Magazine
"Wilson writes with such skill, pluck, and conviction that it becomes both suspenseful and moving. Sexy, too." - Washington Post
"John Morgan Wilson proves he has a way with words and a style that will draw you in ... An exciting debut of an author to watch." - I Love A Mystery
"Wilson keeps the emotional as well as forensic suspense up through the very last sentence. The final scene is not only a satisfying explanation of the crime, but a riveting study of the erotic cruelty of justice." - The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review
"First-time novelist John Morgan Wilson hits a home run with his gritty tale of modern-day L.A." - Lambda Book Report
"This page-turner is superb, and one waits more than impatiently for the next Benjamin Justice mystery." - Frontiers