I’m happy to welcome Nicholas Lombardi on the publication day of his novel, Justice Gone which was inspired by a real and shocking incident. Before we hear from Nick, here the book info….
Justice Gone, a mystery/legal thriller which publishes February 22, 2019, touches upon many topical, controversial issues in today’s society as well as being a thrilling and engaging read. The story encapsulates current social issues: police brutality, homelessness, the plight of returning war veterans, the frenzy of the press, and the mechanics of the US judicial system.
“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?î
Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr. Tessa Thorpe.
Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US | Goodreads | B&N | Book Depository | Waterstones
Now over to Nick…
Us and them: Likely Targets for Police Brutality
Much talk has been generated, both publicly and privately, about the issue of excessive force used by police officers when confronting members of the public. Emphasis has been placed on the factor of racial identity, particularly racist attitudes towards African-Americans. It can be argued that this focus obscures a broader issue, and implies that if you’re Caucasian, then you are immune to this abuse of authority. But statistics based on race alone show this is not true. Being white does not make you safe from this risk. There is a more encompassing aspect of the problem, and this can be framed in terms of vulnerability. So, who are vulnerable?
If one examines the issue closely, one comes up with the conclusion that they are the poor and marginalized. The Reverend Jesse Jackson pointed this out last year, when he publicly stated that police brutality is not a race issue, but a class issue.
So who are the poor and marginalized? Lower income people come to mind, especially those in inner city neighborhoods, but there is an even more extreme group which is hardly talked about – the homeless.
So who are the homeless? You would be amazed at the diversity of this collection of individuals. Of course there are those whose lives have been disrupted by drug abuse, often accompanied by petty criminal behavior. There are those who have mental health issues, a large percentage of whom could be considered as refugees from the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, which Reagan signed into law and which ended community mental health programs established by Jimmy Carter. It began a process of eliminating the federal government’s role in mental health. Initially it cut funding by 30%. By 1985, it had been cut by almost 90%.
A surprising number of homeless people are those that don’t have any of these problems, in fact they may even have jobs, but cannot afford housing. This is the situation in such well-to-do states as Hawaii.
In the novel Justice Gone, the stereotypical scenario of white cops killing a black male is supplanted by one based on a true incident that occurred in Fullerton California in 2011, a homeless white man beaten to death by police for the mere offence of loitering.
However, most deaths at the hands of the police involve shootings, not beatings. In these cases, the officers justify their behaviors by claiming they feared for their lives. According to FBI statistics, an average of 64 police officers are killed by gunfire each year, and even more are wounded. In many cases, these incidents occur during routine traffic stops. Is this enough justification to shoot first and ask questions later? According to an article in USA today (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/12/28/number-officers-killed-2017-hits-nearly-50-year-low/984477001/) the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty dropped sharply in 2017, marking the second-lowest toll in more than 50 years. We await the numbers for 2018.
Whatever one’s take on this topic, conditions today are ripe for revitalizing the “Us and Them” attitude that law enforcement officers adopted during the 60’s and 70’s, a situation that would benefit no one.
Thanks for a very thought provoking post, Nick.
Bruntfield, New Jersey, just another banal town in a part of the country that nobody thinks about, was about to become famous; or rather, more aptly put, infamous. People sauntered past lackluster shops unaware that in a few days, the lackadaisical streets would bear the rabid frustrations that divided the nation; a pus-like bitterness that was held in check by the demands of everyday survival and the distractions offered by obsessive consumerism and brazen media.
Some would inevitably blame the cascade of events on the weather, since the origins could be found on a hot summer day in 2006. Sure, just about all summer days are hot, but this one was close to the record, and humid to boot. By the end of July, the Northeast coast was suffering under a sweltering heat wave. Despite the humidity, no one could remember the last time it had rained. A hundred-year drought was predicted, they’d said.
Bruntfield, among the many places under this curse, had its water supply so severely depressed that the city authorities were forced to impose water rationing. As if that wasn’t enough, the excessive load on air conditioners led to incessant brownouts. With the weather nothing less than insufferable, suffocating, oppressive, even provoking, tempers flared along with the temperature. But the local situation, as bad as it was, was about to get worse.