Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr #BookReview #BlogTour

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?

I'm delighted to be hosting the blog tour for Justice Gone today by N. Lombardi Jr.  Many thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey from Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

Justice Gone opens with an upsetting scene which sees a homeless war veteran, Jay Felson become a victim of police brutality. Although I knew it was going to happen, the build-up is almost unbearably tense, as the hot, humid weather contributes to a fractious exchange before inevitably leading to violence and eventually, tragedy. It's a frightening fictional representation of real-life incidents where members of the public end up dead after an encounter with the police goes suddenly very wrong. The public respond angrily but as always, the ensuing debate soon becomes polarised with those demanding justice for Jay, better support for veterans and fairer treatment for the homeless at loggerheads with supporters of the police and the Citizens for a Safer Bruntfield who insist their town can't afford to take care of the homeless or withstand the impact of their presence. It's an emotive subject and anybody who uses social media will undoubtedly recognise the dogmatic arguments which persist following such events. The online anger is understandable but there is a human cost beyond the loss of one life and Justice Gone is really about those left behind and how they respond to the death of Jay.
The book explores a number of themes beyond the use of excessive force by the police, including the desire for retribution and the divisive influence of the Press and social media but perhaps the most poignant is the treatment of PTSD in veterans. Jay had sought help, alongside his comrade and friend, Donald Darfield and there's a powerful scene which demonstrates how the bond between the two men was formed under fire  - or as Jay describes it in 'the bowels of humanity.' The introduction of Dr Tessa Thorpe and her colleagues at the New Hope Trauma Recovery Clinic underlines the strength of that bond, as their fear when Donald goes missing after Jay's death is almost palpable. Here is a man they evidently care about - their affectionate use of his nickname, Shortstop, makes that obvious - but they are concerned as to how he will react to the murder of his friend. When three cops are expertly gunned down in cold blood, it's not surprising he becomes the number one suspect.
Justice Gone is really three stories in one; the first, The Incident follows the immediate aftermath to Jay's death, then The Manhunt sees the dramatic hunt for the cop-killer, with the initial suspect soon ignored as the police decide Donald Darfield is the perpetrator, particularly after he takes shelter in a remote cabin. This part of the book is fairly short and it's clear that the main purpose of the scenes here is to lead to the moment where Donald is arrested as the final part of the novel, The Trial is the longest and arguably most important section. However, there are still some nail-biting moments as Tessa desperately tries to keep him safe when officers enraged by the murder of their police colleagues finally catch up with him.
The trial is probably the most compelling part of the novel with the intense courtroom drama seeing Donald's fate lying in the enigmatic hands of the blind and controversial ageing lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. He is an intriguing character; a man who is clearly a gifted reader of people and situations despite his lack of sight but he isn't a particularly sympathetic man and Tessa struggles to trust him, knowing that if he fails, Donald faces the lethal injection. The detailed description of the court case, from the selection of the jury, to the presentation of the evidence by the prosecution and the response of the defence is absolutely fascinating. I desperately hoped that Donald would be declared innocent and found the scenes where the jury discuss whether they believe him to be guilty of the crimes he is accused of, to be an anxious read, particularly as they are all influenced by their own experiences and prejudices. The conclusion to the book genuinely surprised me and again served as a reminder of how violence begets violence.
Justice Gone is an intelligent and thought-provoking legal thriller which examines important contemporary topics that seem destined to become ever more pressing in this world apparently set on a course of conflict and anger. It is a moving and damning indictment of the treatment of veterans and the shameful covering up of acts of police brutality which ultimately benefits nobody, least of all the serving officers who risk their own lives protecting the public. I was engrossed throughout and look forward to future books featuring the principled and insightful Tessa Thorpe. Highly recommended.

Back in February I shared the first chapter of Justice gone, you can read the extract here.

Justice Gone is published by Roundfire Books and can be purchased from the following;
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes and Noble
Book Depository

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

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.
Website   Goodreads


  1. Hi Karen - Sounds like a must read!

    1. Definitely! I really enjoyed it. Thanks for reading my review :)

  2. Thanks for the great review Karen. Glad you enjoyed the book


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