Beyond Justice, By Joshua Graham (Dawn Treader Press, 2010, 430 pages.)
Book Review by Dennis Moore
September 8, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) -- San Diego author Joshua Graham has written a riveting and supernatural legal thriller, Beyond Justice, that at times has spiritual overtones. Beyond Justice is the story of Sam Hudson, a reputable San Diego attorney who descends into a hell not of his making after authorities wrongfully convict him of the brutal rape and murder of his wife and daughter.
On Death Row, he awaits execution by lethal injection while he agonizes over the fate of his young son Aaron, who was beaten into a coma during the attacks.
While incarcerated, Sam fights for his life from the natural and usual elements while his pro bono attorney works frantically on his appeal. It is there that he embraces the faith of his departed wife and begins to manifest supernatural abilities. Those abilities help him save lives – his own and those of his unlikely allies. He also uncovers the true killer’s identity, unlocking the door to his exoneration and reuniting with his son, who is still in a coma. The author describes prison life convincingly in his book, as if he had actually been there as an inmate.
San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Brent Stringer, an award winning journalist and best-selling writer, is one of the central characters in this fictional account of horrific tragedy, faith and redemption. The author describes his book as “more than a mystery novel, but an exercise in faith, understanding, joy and mercy in their purest forms.” I found that to be so in the twists, turns and surprises to be found along the way. There are victims starting with Sam Hudson and his family; the book also implicates society and our criminal justice system.
A book worthy of a feature length Hollywood movie, Beyond Justice strikes every chord in the area of mystery, romance between the accused and the one defending him, and heightened suspense. The author meticulously carries us along in this journey, keeping us breathless along the way.
Born in Brooklyn, author Joshua Graham holds a bachelor's, master's and doctorate degree from Johns Hopkin University. He has taught college in West Virginia and Maryland. After publishing several short stories under pseudonyms, he has drawn high praise from prominent reviewers for his legal thriller novel, Beyond Justice.
Set in “America’s Finest City,” San Diego, the book describes landmarks and scenes familiar to those living in our region, such as the San Diego Union-Tribune Newspaper, the San Diego Superior Court Building, the San Diego County Jail on Front Street, and I-15 and the 805 expressways. I, personally, have driven down this 805 freeway numerous times while going to minister to inmates at the George Bailey Center Jail and RJ Donovan Prison. This depiction of these landmarks and surroundings by Graham gives the reader a feel for the community in which these horrific acts occurred, leading them through each scene of this legal thriller.
Graham’s fictional novel has elements of cyberspace and internet intrigue; the murder mystery revolves around the murderer accessing and infiltrating the confines of his victims’ computers. Graham has intricately woven together these elements of cyberspace and our criminal justice system in a way that keeps avid mystery readers spellbound.
As with most murder mysteries, the least likely of suspects is not revealed until the end of this hypnotizing novel. Graham is brilliant in how he weaves in a love story with faith and religion, in the midst of horrific acts of murder and intrigue. Perhaps that is attributed to the author professing to me his affinity for noted author John Grisham. He is certainly headed in that direction! I have read Robert Ludlum’s The Ambler Warning and The Matarese Circle, and Graham’s Beyond Justice is the best mystery novel that I have ever read.
To add to the intrigue in this book, one of the police detectives who seemed absolutely convinced that Sam Hudson was the killer, and seemingly had a vendetta against him, was inadvertently drawn into the case on an intimate level—leading to shocking revelations that reverberate far beyond Sam Hudson and his family, disclosing a serial killer on the loose with a disturbing method to the madness.
Once becoming a free man, after a hellish ordeal in prison, Sam’s newfound faith confronts him with the most insurmountable challenge yet. A challenge beyond vengeance, beyond rage, beyond anything Sam believes himself capable of: to forgive the very person who murdered his family, according to his faith. But this endeavor reveals darker secrets than either Sam or the killer could ever have imagined--secrets that hurtle them into a fateful collision course. Beyond Justice has a plot worthy of Hollywood, told by a fantastic author with a deft touch and feel for intrigue! This author added a fitting climax in true John Grisham form.
Ironically, Sam Hudson shunned religion while his wife was alive. Yet his newfound faith gives him strength to survive prison and the subsequent ordeals he endures once released. This is a powerful testament to faith and religion, woven into a masterful murder mystery.
Dennis Moore is a member of the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild. He has written for LifeAfter50 Magazine in Pasadena, California, and the Baja Times Newspaper in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. He is also the President of Bethel A.M.E. Prison Ministry in San Diego, California. Mr. Moore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.