Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Simple Justice (Benjamin Justice, #1)” as Want to Read:
Simple Justice (Benjamin Justice, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Simple Justice

(Benjamin Justice #1)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  332 ratings  ·  55 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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Simple Justice, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Simple Justice

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  332 ratings  ·  55 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Simple Justice (Benjamin Justice, #1)
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
Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~
Benjamin is a broken man. A one-time lauded journalist who won the coveted Pulitzer Prize for a series he wrote about AIDS, he's now living with a ruined name and years of regrets. After the death of his lover years before, he's been hiding from the world, getting by on bit jobs and the generosity of his landlords. When his old editor, Harry, comes walking back into his life, asking him to help his new star journalist, Alex, with a piece about the death of gay man, Ben at first refuses - until h ...more
Ulysses Dietz
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Simple Justice
By John Morgan Wilson
Originally published 1996
ReQueered Tales Edition, September 2020
Five stars

The eeriest thing about John Morgan Wilson’s “Simple Justice” is not that it doesn’t feel dated after all the years since its original publication in 1996, but rather that it seems more relevant than ever in the context of our world as it is right now in 2020. With some careful retooling by the author for this new edition, it stands as a document of a mid-1990s nouveau-noir detective stor
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
They say sometimes the oldies are the best. I have found a new member of my favorite authors list. The dynamic duo of Templeton and Ben is only second in excellence to how well written the story is. Everything is there but it’s not blatant. It’s also really cool that just about everybody had a motive in some way and everybody becomes a suspect. First rate!
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
Dnf at 17%.
Yeah this is not working for me.
Stilted dialogue? Check.
Flat characters? Check.
Did I figure out who the killer was as soon as the killer first made an appearance? Check.
Was it dark? Check.

I was so excited going into this one since I had heard excellent things about it. Sadly they can't all be winners. I have too many books I want to read so I admit defeat.
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding murder mystery, author John Morgan Wilson is rewriting the series from his original publication thanks to ReQueered Tales picking up the rights. Benjamin Justice is a broken, former journalist who gets one last chance to revive his career. Gritty look at the investigation which forces him to examine all the twists and turns of his life, the loss and mistakes. This one is a real serious murder mystery - nothing cozy going on here. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
Jun 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, 2012, gay, 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. ...more
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-again-maybe, mm
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
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! ...more
Vfields Don't touch my happy!
A real mystery story.
Not a romance.
I was surprised how old 1997 feels.
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
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
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
Rep: gay mc

this was probably better than 2 stars suggests, but there were some rlly fucked up parts so :/
Dieter Moitzi
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-book-reviews
NOTE: This book was provided by the author via GRRT for the purpose of a review on Rainbow Book Reviews.

Early 90s. Benjamin Justice, former prestigious LA Times reporter, has become a virtual outcast of his profession. Six years before, his on-and-off boyfriend Jacques died of AIDS, and he wrote a series of articles that won him the Pulitzer Prize. But he was soon exposed as a fraud because his articles were invented from scratch. What he’s been doing ever since is sit in the lodgings his friend
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
Jul 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, series, lgbt
I liked this book, and I kept wondering exactly why I did. I guessed who was the killer from the beginning, although there certainly were various worthy red-herrings and my sticking to my suspect has more to do with a gut instinct than with anything else.

I didn't really like Ben, although I pitied him but, as the story advanced and I got to know more of his background, I at least understood him. I still find abhorrent his last night with Jin. Nor booze not Jin's games justify what he did.

But I e
May 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbt
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
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all time favorite protagonists!

Flawed Benjamin Justice is such an amazingly written character... I love John Morgan Wilson’s series not only for the great mystery and suspense, but because I feel like I know Benjamin Justice personally... and care what he is going through. I am so glad requeered tales is bringing him back and I hope Benjamin Justice finds a new generation of friends and followers. This series is one of my all time favorites and it is so fun to read again. Can’t wait fo
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.
Jeffrey Hammerhead
John Morgan Wilson won an Edgar in 1997 for Best First Novel. A fantastic read.
William Freeman
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this fast paced well written good character development look forward to another in the series.
Sophie Smeenk
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Completely blown

Shortest review ever. No time for more, because busy finding the rest of this series. Don't, just don't let it pass you by.
May 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wilson had me hooked from Chapter 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
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
** 4.5 Stars **
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
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
« previous 1 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Cash Out (A Pinx Video Mystery, #5)
  • Time to Check Out (Stan Kraychik Mystery, #5)
  • The Same End (The Lamb and the Lion, #3)
  • Unnatural (Enlightenment, #4)
  • Memorial
  • The Silence (Columbia River #2, Callahan & McLane, #5)
  • Cronin's Key II (Cronin's Key, #2)
  • The Man Everybody Was Afraid Of (Dave Brandstetter, #4)
  • Correspondence
  • Poems of Paul Celan
  • Punk Rock Is Cool for the End of the World: Poems and Notebooks of Ed Smith
  • Jude the Obscure
  • Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry
  • Nothing Gold Can Stay: Stories
  • Collected Earlier Poems
  • Dead Tongue
  • Fish and Chips: A History
  • Boyfriend Material (Boyfriend Material, #1)
See similar books…
LGBT > Gay
See top shelves…
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.

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)

Related Articles

We asked Alice Bolin, author of Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession, and journalist-turned-crime novelist Laura...
99 likes · 49 comments
“I felt memories rising to the surface like a corpse coming up from dark water.” 1 likes
More quotes…