- Author: J.D. Trafford
- Publishing on August 1st 2017 by Thomas & Mercer
- Category: Crime, Contemporary, Police Procedural, Legal Thriller, Book Review, Books, Reading
Attorney Justin Glass’s practice, housed in a shabby office on the north side of Saint Louis, isn’t doing so well that he can afford to work for free. But when eight-year-old Tanisha Walker offers him a jar full of change to find her missing brother, he doesn’t have the heart to turn her away.
Justin Glass hails from a prominent political family; his father is the most senior US congressman in Missouri, his grandfather a retired Federal District Court Judge and his brother is a state senator. Justin has a small law practice. His life fell to pieces after his wife died. He was fired from his previous, more prestigious job and lost his house after getting into debt. Now he and his daughter, Sammy, live with his mother and grandfather. His one-man office is in the seedier part of town and he has a small contract with the Saint Louis Public Defender’s Office, which helps with the finances.
When eight year old Tanisha Walker comes to his office with a jar full of coins and pleads for Justin to find her missing older brother, it sparks an unprecedented investigation. With the help of Sergeant Schmidt from the Saint Louis Police Department, the body of Devon Walker along with a number of other young black teenagers, were found buried in a mass grave. Their disappearances were never investigated fully, if at all.
We walked another fifty yards and then stopped. Schmitty pointed to the ground. “See that?”
I looked down. My eyes had now adjusted to the darker space, and I saw a small tire track in the dirt about three feet away. There were two little yellow flags marking the spot.
I looked up, and, when I didn’t say anything, Schmitty filled in the blank. “Wheelbarrow.” He turned and started walking again. “We figure he killed them pretty quick, as soon as they got out of the car or truck or whatever he was driving.” Schmitty looked around. “Already dead when he got them back here. Must’ve loaded them into the wheelbarrow and took them into the clearing.”
“Why are you saying them? Thought you just found Devon Walker?”
Schmitty shook his head. “Afraid not.”
Justin’s decision to take on the disturbing case of the ‘Lost Boys’ as it becomes known, and do the best he can to help the families, gives his career as well as his personal life an unexpected boost. With the help of an assistant who isn’t afraid to use her authority to the best advantage and a questionable computer programmer, Justin’s practice takes on a life of its own, his clients those who have also been ignored by a system unsympathetic to the black community. Against the backdrop of a sweltering August in the city, Justin juggles family problems, his cases with the Public Defender’s Office and the mystery of the Lost Boys.
Told in the first person from Justin’s point of view, there are several threads running through the narrative, including the still socially pertinent issue of racial tension and the violence it can provoke, shown to great effect when Justin helps a friend. I like the convincing way he is portrayed; still suffering from the loss of his wife and feeling embarrassed about his home situation. Added to the fact that he took Tanisha and her concerns seriously, regardless of her age and despite feeling doubts about taking the case.
I enjoyed JD Trafford’s writing style and the structure of the story. Quite slow and steady to begin with, gaining momentum as it goes. The characters and dialogue are representational and very believable, as are the situations Justin finds himself in.
I chose to read and review an advance copy of Little Boy Lost based on a digital file supplied by NetGalley and the author/publisher.
My thanks to Sarah at Little Bird Publicity and NetGalley.
About J.D. Trafford
J.D. Trafford is an award-winning author who has been profiled in Mystery Scene Magazine (a “writer of merit”). His debut novel was selected as an IndieReader bestselling pick, and his books have topped Amazon’s bestseller lists, including Amazon’s #1 Legal Thriller.
In addition to graduating with honors from a Top 20 law school, J.D. Trafford has worked as a civil and criminal prosecutor, an associate at a large national law firm, and a non-profit attorney for people who could not afford legal representation.
Prior to law school, J.D. Trafford worked in Washington D.C. and lived in Saint Louis, Missouri. He worked on issues of housing, education, and poverty in communities of color.
He now lives with his wife and children in the Midwest, and bikes whenever possible.