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Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

Simple Justice (Benjamin Justice Mystery, Book 1) - John Morgan Wilson Rating: 2.5* of fiveThe Book Description: Following the death of his lover and a scandal involving his Pulitzer Prize-winning article, crime reporter Benjamin Justice has fallen into a hazy, alcoholic life, hiding out in the West Hollywood neighborhood known as the Norma Triangle. He is called back to the world of the living by an unexpected, and unwelcome, visit from Harry Brofsky, his former boss. Brofsky wants Ben to do some background work (strictly off the record) with another reporter on the investigation of a seemingly motiveless killing outside a local gay bar. The investigation throws Justice back into the life of gay bars, spurned lovers, dysfunctional families, and tawdry secrets--all the things he had been trying to escape. And it leads, ultimately, to the reexamination of his own dark past, and his own crimes of passion. Simple Justice is a subtly plotted mystery that takes a piercing look at not only violent crime but also violations of the heart and soul in the sometimes glamorous, more often dark and gritty gay world of West Hollywood. My Review: Simple? Simplistic. Subtle? Clichéd. Voices are muffled as if through handkerchiefs. (Seriously...try that sometime...all you are is inaudible.) Gunshots? Are you sure it wasn't a car backfiring? (In the past 20 years, the ubiquity of fuel injection has made this once-frequent occurrence unusual enough to be more noteworthy than a mere gunshot.) The large, muscular African-American bouncer at a gay bar says the victim was “all by hisself.”Nauseous.The murderer, when revealed, is so boringly predictable that, on the character's first appearance, I noted “killer” on the page. (Since erased. Hey, quit frowning, some people dog-ear.) The red herrings were days old, and smelt up the place. (Punishment will continue until praise is heaped upon me.)So why did I finish it? It's the sixteen-year-old first book in a series that has eight books. First books are seldom all that wonderful, and a series that's lasted eight has something. Maybe I won't like that something, but I'll try one more to see. It only took about three hours to read this one, so it's not like I'm making a major time commitment. Plus the Pearl Rule looms behind each page-flip, dangling its gorgeously made invitation to say “sayonara” and sail away for better-written shores.