Thursday, February 7, 2019

Author Spotlight N. Lombardi Jr with Justice Gone

What lured you to write Justice Gone?
I saw a YouTube video of a homeless man, Kelly Thomas, being beaten to death by police in California. That video, together with the numerous stories in online newsfeeds, prompted me to write the story. The most vulnerable to such attacks are the poor and disenfranchised, so there is much in the story that deals with the homeless and with troubled veterans returning from war. The chasm between people who label themselves liberals and conservatives is also explored. Yet despite the gravity of these issues, they are contained in an entertaining legal thriller and whodunit, a combination inspired by many works of John Grisham.

Are there any characters that came more naturally to you than others?
I already had written stories with the character of Tessa Thorpe, so I had a good idea of who she was. She first appeared in Journey Towards a Falling Sun in a minor way, then was the main focus of another novel, as yet unpublished, Woman in the Shadow, which is written in first person from her point of view. That novel should be out in 2019/2020, even though I wrote it before Justice Gone.
And for some reason, Nat Bodine, the blind lawyer, came roaring out of my head in his own indomitable style, don't know why or how that happened, other than his desire to be heard.

What part of the story was the hardest for you to write?
Besides the episode of the beating, in which I tried to be faithful to the YouTube video, Chapter 3, the part that takes place in a battle zone in Iraq, was the most unpleasant and my least favorite section to write.

Do you consider yourself a better craftsman than when you first started writing? 
 I'm not sure about that. My editor keeps pointing out the same stylistic mistakes over and over again with each new novel. Can't teach an old dog new tricks I suppose; habits are hard to break.

Are you trying to send a message to society with your books?
Perhaps. Or maybe I'm just letting off steam about things that upset me, the most pervasive sentiment being anti-war. Much of the time I'm just commenting - I have no solutions to today's problems.

 What are you doing when not writing?
 Reading, swimming, trying to enjoy life.

I see you are a fellow Frank Capra fan- do you have a favorite?
It's a Wonderful Life is not only my favorite Capra film, but one of my all-time favorite movies. But I like most of his movies, where the ordinary person stands up to powerful bullies and whose integrity can't be bought.

Is there anything you’d like to tell readers?

Keep it together. Times are tough, and they may get tougher. And while busy doing that, enjoy life - it's a miracle.

Justice Gone
N. Lombardi Jr
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Roundfire Books (February 22, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1785358766
  • ISBN-13: 978-1785358760
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces 

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 get there first, leading to Darfield's dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and aging 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? Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. N Lombardi Jr. is the author of a compelling and heartfelt novel The Plain of Jars.

My Thoughts

The author N. Lombardi Jr weaves together this physiological and psychological thriller by taking readers on a journey to places you wish you did not have to go. Along the way, Lombardi highlights many aspects, among them, is how environmental and cultural influences impact psychological factors when it comes to discernment and reaction.

The story starts with cause and effect. A look out a window and a false statement lead police officers to the location where they beat a war veteran to death. There is no indictment but we soon learn there is retaliation in the form of a revenge killing of police.

Dr. Tess Thorpe who specializes in counseling war vets suffering from PTSD has one client who is dead and another who is a suspect. Into the mix steps blind defense attorney Nathaniel Bodin.

This book is very well written. The dialogue is superb and I found myself emotionally charged - so much so - that I had to pause throughout to be able to continue.

In closing, this story is wisely told in the third person by a narrator which affords different perspectives allowing us to see there are many perpetrators and victims. And as a reader, you find you are analyzing conversations and reactions while watching the conclusion of Justice Gone.

I received the advance reader copy from the author for my honest review.

Additionally 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.

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

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