From Publishers Weekly
Edgar-winner Wilson (Simple Justice) was certainly ahead of the news curve when he invented a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter disgraced and fired for inventing sources. Now, in his fifth book about Benjamin Justice, Wilson again mines recent headlines, sending his wounded hero on a quest for the Catholic priest who molested him when he was 12 years old. It's a viable idea, and the HIV-positive Justice has some interesting edges, but the author seems determined to test him-and his readers-with so much high-impact paranoia that the story quickly goes over the top. The trouble starts when Joe Soto, the ace Los Angeles Times columnist engaged to Justice's friend Alexandra Templeton, shows Justice an outline for a book he plans to write about an infamous assassin who works for various drug cartels. Then Joe obligingly writes a story about Justice's missing priest and is promptly murdered by a hit-and-run driver outside a restaurant. Was it the assassin? Or could it have been a suspicious-looking police detective who lusts after Alexandra? How about a hit man hired by the increasingly edgy Los Angeles archbishop and his chief aide, who offer Justice a million dollars to drop his investigation into the pedophile priest? Long before the frantic ending in a new cathedral being built at vast expense in downtown L.A., most readers will have concluded that the point of wretched excess has already been achieved.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
At a time when so many mystery and suspense novels rely not on a compelling major character who embodies a moral center in a world gone awry, but instead on the glitter and glitz of exotic locales and high-tech chases, Wilson's latest, outstanding Benjamin Justice mystery, thanks to its dark, groping, fatally flawed, but redeemable hero, comes like food to starving genre buffs. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who later had to surrender the award because he had invented sources, Justice floundered for years after--years of decline and drinking, punctuated by a few, successful, free-lance gigs combining journalistic research and private investigation. Now, he is HIV-positive but regrouping and writing his autobiography. Flashbacks from his own childhood molestation by a priest dovetail with the murder of a journalist who was investigating the Catholic Church's cover-up of an L.A. priest's sordid activities. When Justice, a prete manque
in so many ways, looks into the crime, he advances to new levels of risk and confrontation, both within himself and without. At its best, Wilson's work recalls the best of Graham Greene's mysteries. He writes meditations on repentance and forgiveness as well as whodunits, giving discerning readers reason to rejoice. His contemplation of the anguished soul and its redemption makes him Greene's heir apparent and the savior of the mystery as morality play. Whitney ScottCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved