Simple Justice

Benjamin Justice Mystery Book 1

by John Morgan Wilson

Reputation Books


September 18, 2021

Available in: e-Book, Trade Size (reprint)

Simple Justice
by John Morgan Wilson

It’s 1994, an election year when violent crime is rampant, voters want action, and politicians smell blood. When a Latino teenager confesses to the murder of a pretty-boy cokehead outside a gay bar in L.A., the cops consider the case closed. But Benjamin Justice, a disgraced former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, sees something in the jailed boy others don’t. His former editor, Harry Brofsky, now toiling at the rival Los Angeles Sun, pries Justice from his alcoholic seclusion to help neophyte reporter Alexandra Templeton dig deeper into the story. But why would a seemingly decent kid confess to a brutal gang initiation killing if he wasn’t guilty? And how can Benjamin Justice possibly be trusted, given his central role in the Pulitzer scandal that destroyed his career? Snaking his way through shadowy neighborhoods and dubious suspects, he’s increasingly haunted by memories of his lover Jacques, whose death from AIDS six years earlier precipitated his fall from grace. As he unravels emotionally, Templeton attempts to solve the riddle of his dark past and ward off another meltdown as they race against a critical deadline to uncover and publish the truth.

Awarded an Edgar by Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel on initial release, this 25th Anniversary edition has been revised by the author. A foreword for the 2020 edition by Christopher Rice (Bone Music) is included.

“Politically pungent, exactly observed, and conceding little comfort, Wilson is heir to the shockingly unsentimental vision of Patricia Highsmith.” — Michael Bronski, Out Magazine

“First-time novelist John Morgan Wilson hits a home run with his gritty tale of modern-day L.A.” — Lambda Book Report

“Wilson writes with such skill, pluck, and conviction that it becomes both suspenseful and moving. Sexy, too.” — Washington Post

Originally published July 1996 in hardcover by Doubleday.

Other Books by John Morgan Wilson

John Morgan Wilson's Bio

John Morgan Wilson is an American journalist and author of crime fiction, notably the award-winning Benjamin Justice mystery novels. The books feature a reclusive ex-reporter, ruined by a Pulitzer scandal and haunted by personal loss, who operates out of West Hollywood, California, becoming enmeshed in murder investigations in and around Los Angeles. Simple Justice led the series in 1996, winning the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Six of the eight Justice mysteries, including Simple Justice, were nominated for Lambda Literary Awards for Best Gay Men’s Mystery, three of them winning in that category. Originally published by Doubleday (the first four books) and St. Martin’s Press (the last four), the series was revived in late 2020 when ReQueered Tales [] released Simple Justice in a revised 25th anniversary edition, with a Foreword by Christopher Rice []. At that time, RQT announced plans to publish all eight titles in eBook and paperback formats. Revision of Justice, the second Justice mystery, set in the highly competitive and often heartbreaking world of Hollywood screenwriting, will be released in a heavily revised edition in late 2021. The remaining titles, also revised, will follow over the next few years.