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Simple Justice

(Benjamin Justice #1)

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  292 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Following the death of his lover and a scandal involving his Pulitzer Prize-winning article, crime reporter Benjamin Justice has fallen into a hazy, alcoholic reclusiveness, hiding out in the West Hollywood neighborhood known as the Norma Triangle. He is called back to the world of the living by an unexpected, and unwelcome, visit from Harry Brofsky, his former boss. Brofs ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 2nd 1997 by Crimeline (first published 1996)
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Richard Derus
Real Rating: 2.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Following the death of his lover and a scandal involving his Pulitzer Prize-winning article, crime reporter Benjamin Justice has fallen into a hazy, alcoholic life, hiding out in the West Hollywood neighborhood known as the Norma Triangle. He is called back to the world of the living by an unexpected, and unwelcome, visit from Harry Brofsky, his former boss. Brofsky wants Ben to do some background work (strictly off the record) with another reporter o
Ije the Devourer of Books
I love a good murder mystery especially one in which the mystery is solved by a disgraced ex-journalist who is also gay and still mourning the loss of his love from six years earlier - Mr Benjamin Justice is that person.

An old friend calls in a favour and Benjamin finds himself researching and then investigating the shooting of a young man outside a gay night club. The police think they have the killer because someone has confessed but Benjamin has his doubts and of course the police always get
Benjamin Justice is a disgraced reporter -- he falsified a series of story about AIDS, which won him Pulitzer Price. He must returned the Pulitzer and now he worked grinding out press releases and became a secluded alcoholic, after his lover for years died of AIDS. Until his former boss, Harry Brofsky, who now worked at Los Angeles Sun asked Benjamin's help to do research for the main reporter, Alexandra Templeton about a murder of Billy Lusk, in front of a gay bar....


Back in 2009, I read Mi
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mm, read-again-maybe
Simply stated, I loved it. It had the kind of melancholy tone that I really appreciate, along with descriptive prose and characters (including secondaries) that you can really feel for. And I loved the themes, twisting as they did around many ideas of self -- being true to oneself or failing to do so, presenting false images of self for the love of others, warping oneself to fit in with society, having oneself warped by the loved ones who should honor you most, and so on.

A sample of Wilson's evo
Jun 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay, mystery, 2012, done
Very good gay mystery set in the mid-90s about a former newspaper reporter who's been working the occasional freelance job to make ends meet since it came out he'd fabricated the story for which he won a Pulitzer. When his former editor tracks him down about working on a story, he doesn't want to... but he slowly gets sucked in.
Jul 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
The first Benjamin Justice mystery - we're introduced to the defamed investigative report. Working on his first story from a former editor in hopes of resurrecting his career, Justice get much more than he bargained for. If you like your protagonist to have major flawes - yet root for him at every turn, you'll enjoy this read!
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read-2018
After losing first his partner to AIDS, then his journalism career to a scandal of his own making, Ben has withdrawn into living hand to mouth and seeking consolation at the bottom of a bottle. Then, years later, his former boss drops by for an unexpected visit and proceeds to badger Ben into helping do some off-the-record background work for an ambitious young reporter working on a story about the murder of a young man outside a local gay bar. Despite inital protests, Ben begins to look into th ...more
this was probably better than 2 stars suggests, but there were some rlly fucked up parts so :/
Freyja Vanadis
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this book, and Mr. Wilson's style of writing is tight and exciting, but his main character Benjamin Justice is an unlikable bastard. He's a disgraced ex-journalist who won a Pulitzer prize six years earlier while working for the L.A. Times but then was forced to give it back when it was discovered that his story was fake. That, coupled with the loss of his lover Jacques due to AIDS, sent him into an alcoholic spiral that he still hasn't recovered from. If it wasn't for his friends Maurice ...more
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A violent shooting outside a WeHo gay bar, a very young hispanic perpetrator with hate-crime/gang initiation motivation. The police think it's a cut and dry case. The editorial head of a smaller newspaper drags disgraced and discredited investigative journalist Benjamin Justice back from a booze-tainted existence to help a less experienced female journalist (Alex Templeton) uncover the real facts behind the case.

This book does a very credible introduction to a whodunnit series for me. I know it
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stumbled across this book when I was looking for a good murder mystery to read and thank goodness I did because it was a brilliant read ! From the first chapter I was hooked as the writing was excellent (no wonder the author won an award). Premise of the book is a young gay man is murdered outside a gay club and a hispanic youth is found by the body covered in blood who immediately confesses to the murder, the police think it is an open and shut case and close any further investigation. Enter Be ...more
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book won an Edgar award for best first novel and I agree wholeheartedly. This is a fabulously written, fascinating story. Benjamin Justice won a Pulitzer Prize for a story he did while as a reporter at a major newspaper six years ago. But, then, his prize, career and nearly his life were ripped from him when it was discovered that the story was faked. His life has been sliding into the abyss since then. His former editor tries to hook him back into life by getting his help on a recent gay-b ...more
DoctorBuckles DoctorBuckles
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What I loved most about this fast-paced West Hollywood super-sleuth novel was it's set in my neighborhood. EXACTLY my neighborhood including at one point the character walking past my apartment, going to places I go and know well. The setting is the same neighborhood set in my novel, the character sharing similar experiences with my main character.
That's the simple answer to my like of this novel. The deeper love is how the author has developed a very real and plausible life with characters that
Jeremy Howell
May 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbt, thriller
I was super excited to find a gay mystery series that made it mainstream in the 90's, and rather surprised that this slipped my radar.

About halfway through the book, I remembered that I don't actually like procedural mysteries, and I really don't like "Hollywood Gay". Oops.

This book is very much a product of its times and I'm afraid doesn't hold up well. It deserves credit for breaking mainstream pre-Queer as Folk, but if you've seen Queer as Folk, you know what to expect here. Everyone's a piec
Aug 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
PROTAGONIST: Benjamin Justice, journalist
SETTING: West Hollywood
WHY: Benjamin Justice is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who was disgraced when the article that he wrote was found to be fictitious. He’s been on a downward path since then. His former boss hires him to mentor a new reporter who is writing investigative articles about the death of the son of a wealthy man outside a gay bar. I found Justice hard to like. He had an abrasive interviewing technique and I found
Kathleen O'Nan
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
The 1st in a series new to me with an interesting gay character, Benjamin Justice, who is the lead. A former reporter, disgraced and banned from his profession 6 years earlier, when his lover died of AIDS, Justice is drawn back into the world of investigative journalism by his former boss and mentor. Written well but perhaps a bit too graphic in terms of sex a couple of times. Overall, I liked the book and will order the next one.
I like it and want to read more, although when I finally started reading Justice, the first lines were a stumbling block, stuffed with dramatic similes so that I had to force myself to just get over them and go on. All the praise on the blurb was from female crime writers, which amused me, and the book was a lot like Grafton, all the daily details of LA that never get interesting to someone like me (but later on he throww a more facetted look at Boy's Town!) Otherwise the character was like the ...more
Adam Dunn
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: glbt
Tried the sample on Kindle first and liked the book enough at that point to buy it. I was looking for another series after finishing Vermilion but this will not be it.
I enjoyed the multiculturalism of the cast of characters but felt it was pushed a little too far when the guy in the wheelchair showed up with his Chinese boyfriend. I liked that the hero was flawed, I thought it was a great device that he had won the Pulitzer and given it back for lying. Sometimes people do bad things or silly th
Jul 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay, mystery
This is the first in a series of the Benjamin Justice mysteries.

Justice is a reporter forced to give back the Pulitzer that he won for a story that turned out to be fraudulent.

Teetering on the edge of alcoholism he's approached by his old mentor to help an up and coming reporter cover a murder that took place in front of a gay club. The police have their murderer, a young Latino that's already confessed, but the pieces just don't add up. Or perhaps they do, but into something much more than a "
Ronald Wilcox
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very enjoyable first mystery in a series featuring an interesting anti-hero as the protagonist, Benjamin Justice. He is a gay man who was a reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism but was then found to have falsified the story. His old editor, Harry, finds him in his alcohol-fueled broken down life and asks him to help do background for a story about a gay man shot outside of a club in Silver Lake, CA, by a young Latino. During his investigation into the shooting, Justice has to face ma ...more
Jul 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is a completely other universe than Stevenson's. Where Stevenson is witty, fun and smart aleck, Wilson is angsty, dark and cynic. Benjamin Simple is a reporter with a tainted past, who's lost his lover and his reputation. Prone to alcohol, dark mood, melancholy, Simple is brought back into the news world by his ex-boss to help a rookie reporter out. This is the opening book of the Benjamin Simple series set in Los Angeles, West Hollywood. It's dark, it's raw, it's angsty. It's an interestin ...more
Catherine  Mustread
Jan 18, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Catherine by: Edgar
Mystery involving a gay burned out former Hollywood journalist turned investigator mourning the loss of his partner to AIDS, investigates the death of a homosexual outside a gay bar. Graphic sex scenes, good suspense and an inside look at the LA gay scene's delights and horrors. This first novel and first in the Benjamin Justice series won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1997.
David Swatling
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Just coming off 4-day ThrillerFest where a lot of discussion concerned series thrillers. This is first book in one of my favorites that began back in 1997. Benjamin Justice thought he'd taken the biggest hit in his life when he is stripped of his Pulitzer Prize before the first novel begins. But the hits keep on coming, the stories get darker, as the edgy 8-book series progresses. Justice's judgement gets worse as well. Uncomfortable. But no doubt that Wilson is a cut above the rest in the gay t ...more
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: m-m, crime
It's not an mm book more a crime novel that happens to have a gay MC in it and the murder took place at a gay bar. There is no romance at all in this book.

I quite liked it, it feels a bit old fashioned. The reporter has no phone (land line!). I can't imagine anyone in a professional capacity without a phone these days. But it adds a charm to this book.
So the solving of this crime is through old fashioned leg work and no fancy crime scene techno stuff. I'll watch CSI for that.
Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure why I'm only now discovering incredible gay mystery writers; first Michael Nava and now John Morgan Wilson.
Ben Justice as a protagonist is seriously flawed, but willing to admit those flaws and attempt to live fully in spite of them. The writing is convincing and the mystery doesn’t cheat you at the end. I’m looking forward to the next installment for the further character development that began here.
Oct 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, m-m, mystery
I really liked this book. It had a noir feel to it, the writing was excellent and I spent much of the book trying to decide whether I liked Ben or not. He is a complex character and I look forward to the next book in the series. The mystery was well played and the underlying theme of broken families gave a depth and resonance to the story.
Steven Werber
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really fantastic mystery about what it's like to be gay in a straight world and what you will do to protect your family. Really one of the best mysteries about abuse, forgiveness, politics and the media that I've read in awhile.
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was really good. A great mystery, diverse and flawed characters, bad behavior. My only complaint was how so many people seemed to be attracted to Justice. Did this alcoholic ex-reporter look like a supermodel or something?? I look forward to reading more works by this author.
Jon Wilson
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took me a while to get into it. Some of the dialogue was a bit tinny, and I didn't like the interaction between Justice and the reporter at all--can't quite put my finger on why, but she felt a bit underdone to me. By the end I was enjoying the ride.
Nov 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is the first book in a mystery series with a homosexual detective. I found it to be a little slow in places, but not enough to make it unenjoyable. I also found ther was a bit too much about relationships in it. I'd be willing to read the next one in the series if I could find it.
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John Morgan Wilson is the author of several novels in the Benjamin Justice series as well as two co-written books with band leader Peter Duchin. He's the winner of the Edgar Award and three-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award for the Benjamin Justice novels. He lives in West Hollywood, CA.

* Benjamin Justice
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Other books in the series

Benjamin Justice (8 books)
  • Revision of Justice (Benjamin Justice, #2)
  • Justice at Risk (Benjamin Justice, #3)
  • The Limits of Justice (Benjamin Justice, #4)
  • Blind Eye (Benjamin Justice, #5)
  • Moth and Flame (Benjamin Justice, #6)
  • Rhapsody in Blood (Benjamin Justice, #7)
  • Spider Season (Benjamin Justice, #8)
“I felt memories rising to the surface like a corpse coming up from dark water.” 1 likes
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