I’m delighted to be on the Blog Tour for “Justice Gone”, by N. Lombardi Jr. I have an extract to share.
About the book:
WINNER OF THREE AWARDS
2019 AMERICAN FICTION AWARD
NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCY AWARD – Best Legal Thriller OF 2019
SILVER MEDAL WINNER 2019 READERS’ FAVORITES AWARDS
Chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers
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?
What readers are saying:
The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written…the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader…Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite “thumbs-up.” Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.
Kim M Aalaie, Author’s Den
One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.
The Eclectic Review
The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact…a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works…a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.
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.
“Welcome, Dr. Thorpe. Meet our investigator,” Bodine said, obviously referring to the good-looking young man wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and baggy khakis.
He leaned over and offered his hand for Tessa to shake. “Michael Bodine.”
“Ah, I should have known…I can see the resemblance.” “Handsome, ain’t he?” the elder Bodine quipped. “Keeping it all in the family, are we?” Tessa fired back.
“If you want loyalty in this business, leave alone reliability, that’s the way to go.” The old man straightened out the recliner to a sitting position, with the footrest retreating inside the bottom with a muffled clang. “Well, we got everything the DA has to offer: arrest report, scene forensics, autopsy and ballistics…we were just about to discuss the witness list. Your arrival was good timing.”
“What about Donald’s alibi? Did you get a hold of that bartender in Allentown?”
Michael shook his head forlornly. “Disappeared, scrammed. Nobody knows where he went.”
Tessa nearly erupted. “What! Don’t you think that’s just a bit more than coincidence?”
Nat Bodine held his hand up, palm outward. “Stop that right now. I understand your paranoia of the State after all you’ve been through in your life, but we’re not going down that road yet…we won’t win that way…and maybe he just took off on his own, not wanting to get involved…course we’ll be sneaking behind the scenes to see if anything nefarious was involved, but we can’t be wasting time trying to prove such a serious charge, we got other fish to fry, so let’s get on with it.” He turned his head, his white mane flopping as he did so. “Michael, check out that Hoskers woman yet?”
“Hoskers woman?” Tessa asked.
Emily explained. “The prosecution has listed a witness who claims she saw Darfield in the vicinity of Fratollini’s house just around the time he was shot.”
“I’m still on it,” Michael said. “Going back right after we’re finished here.”
Tessa wore a puzzled frown. “Who is this witness?”
Bodine was growing annoyed at her interruptions. “She’ll testify that she saw a large black man with a rifle slung over his shoulder walking in a direction consistent with Fratollini’s residence. That little shit of an assistant DA will probably goad her into identifying Darfield right there in the courtroom. Now, Michael, what we got so far?’
“Well, she wears glasses for one. She answered the door with them on. And not for reading, she took them off to read my card. And when she read it, she practically plastered it to her eyeball.” “She probably doesn’t like bifocals, has two pairs of specs, one for reading. Good work, son. I would imagine there’s no golf course around there.”
“No, but there is a pool hall. That’s what I want to follow up on today, have a few chats with the clientele.”
“I don’t think I get you,” Tessa said.
Nat Bodine coughed briefly before speaking. “It’s easier to get someone to admit they made a mistake than to accuse someone of lying, and it goes better with the jury, I might add. Okay, she saw a large African-American man. How large? Was he really the same size as Darfield? Was he an African-American, or maybe a dark Latino, a Tamil from India…and was that a rifle over his shoulder, or a golf bag, or maybe just a black case holding a pool cue… now, let’s stop jabbering and review how the State is going to present its case. The reason I brought up this Hoskers woman is that most prosecutors prefer to start with a strong witness, someone who could put the accused in the same general location as the victim.”
“I’m afraid I disagree with you on that one, Dad,” Emily said. “Why’s that?”
“I’ve studied Fiske. He’s very methodical, likes to go from A to B…he’ll start off with the detectives on the scene, followed by the crime scene forensic people, I’m almost certain. Then, to gain sympathy early in the game, they’ll call the widow, Mrs. Fratollini. And to keep the emotional aspect up, they’ll call the coroner to go over the autopsy.”
“How can that be emotional?” Tessa asked. “They’ll show photos of the corpses.” “Oh.”
“Then come the experts: ballistics, and a psychologist to give testimony on PTSD.”
Tessa was alarmed. “Shit! Who’s this person?” “Dr. Weibul. Know him?”
“Her. Yes, I’ve heard of her. You’ll call me as a rebuttal witness, won’t you?”
“We’re considering it,” the old man said. “You’ll at least assist me in preparing the cross-examination. But as a witness for the defense, perhaps someone else less involved in the public eye would be better, maybe your right-hand man, Casey?”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea?” “Why not?”
“I’m not sure. I’d better discuss it with him first.” “You do that,” Bodine said, a bit imperiously.
“I’m sorry, Dad, but again I disagree,” Emily said. “I think we should eliminate the gender factor here, you know, woman expert versus man expert…we need another woman.”
“Know of any?” Bodine inquired.
“Yes, a few,” Tessa said, “not closely associated with the clinic.”
“Contact them right away, arrange a meeting with Emily.” “Oh, look who they have here?” Emily exclaimed. “Donald’s small arms instructor.”
“Well, they have the motive,” her father said, “so they need to concentrate on the means, namely, was Donald Darfield capable of picking off those men at long range with a rifle.”
“Should we get an expert to counter him?”
“No need. They’re gonna shoot themselves in the foot with this one. No pun intended.”
His daughter resumed her analysis of the State’s case. “After all the discussion on PTSD, they’ll put the motel manager on the stand. Remember the motel where Donald smashed the television? They’ll be building a foundation of violent behavior, and once it’s laid, they’ll go with Lt. Colonel Calvin Gerhard of the New Jersey State Police Investigations Branch to talk about Donald shooting at the police.”
“So,” Bodine posed, “when do you think they’ll put the Hoskers woman on the stand.”
“I think Fiske will save her for last, makes more of an impression, easier to stick in the minds of the jury.”
“That’s it, Dad. Nobody that looks like a snitch here.” “Don’t be so sure. It just means they haven’t found one yet.” “So who do we have?” Tessa asked.
“We have our own ballistics expert,” Emily said. “A professor at John Jay Criminal College, worked with the NYPD for thirty years. And, as we just said, we’ll need a PTSD expert…”
Emily looked at her father with a hesitant expression, and although he could not see it, the pregnant pause that followed told him the ball was back in his court.
“There’s only one other person,” he stated somberly. “No, don’t say it, you can’t put him on the stand.”
“If they do finally come up with a snitch, I’ll have to. Only he himself can deny the lies.”
“Look, he looks like this big tough guy, but he’s very fragile, he could lose it, especially when the DA butchers him in cross- examination.”
“Not if I butcher him first.”
Tessa was afraid to ask exactly what that meant. An awkward silence ensued. Bodine broke it. “Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.”
“Dad, I think we’re through now. I’d like to take Tessa to Jerry’s Home Cooking and have her taste that incomparable cheesecake.”
Bodine became animated. “I tell you, that cheesecake could compete with the best in the country, even those fancy places you might be going to in Manhattan.”
Tessa didn’t feel like cheesecake, but she did relish some time alone with Emily, intuiting that their discussion would center on Donald having to testify. “I’ll let you know,” she said, getting up in unison with Emily.