Maddy's Reviews > Blind Eye

Blind Eye by John Morgan Wilson
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Apr 02, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: 2003-reads
Read in November, 2003

RATING: 3.75

Benjamin Justice's life could be characterized as one bad situation after another, with a childhood history of abuse. When he was 17, he caught his father molesting his little sister and shot him dead. In particular, the past few years have been difficult. Some time ago, he wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning story that was based on false facts. Since that time, he has been unable to find a job in his chosen field of journalism. His long-time lover died from AIDS, and he has separated from his most recent relationship. The tide may be changing, though, as he has landed a contract for an autobiography. Little does he know that even more pain is to follow as he prepares to chronicle the story of his life.

In the past few years, one of the biggest scandals has been the abuse of children by Catholic priests. Benjamin was one of those victims, having a relationship with Father Stuart Blackley from the time he was 12 until he was 14. Justice feels it important to reconnect with Fr. Blackley in order to provide the framework for his book. What he discovers is that Blackley was a serial abuser, a fact over which Benjamin suffers mightily. If only he had spoken up earlier, then perhaps all these young lives would not have been damaged.

Supported in his efforts by a wonderful reporter friend by the name of Alexandra Templeton, Justice uncovers a vast conspiracy around covering up abuse and murder. Her fiancé, Joe Soto, a reporter for the LA Times, puts out a column about the molestation. When Joe is killed in a hit-and-run accident, Benjamin concludes that it was not an unplanned incident and that it relates to his investigation of Fr. Blackley. In a truly shocking development, Benjamin himself is attacked and experiences a life-altering injury.

Benjamin Justice is an intriguing character, all the more so because he is not easy for the reader to like. He is a man who is subject to rages, has a tendency towards violence and is not always empathetic when his friends need his support. Even though he is HIV positive, he continues to engage in risky sexual behavior, giving in to his own hedonistic tendencies when he is attracted to someone, even knowing that it is dangerous for both participants. On the other hand, he has clearly been victimized ever since childhood, and his sense of hurting is palpable. He assumes the guilt for other people's acts because he hasn't acted with urgency when he feels he should have.

BLIND EYE is the fifth book in the Benjamin Justice series, and the first that I have read. At first, the book seemed rather ordinary to me; and I found myself irritated by the number of times that the protagonist was placed in danger. But as I continued to read, I found myself swept away by the driving anguish of the characters and Wilson's raw and vivid writing. The book ends in a way that indicates that redemption is possible for Justice, an imperfect man. The conclusion was beautiful and moving. Recommended.

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