Tag Archives: Justice Gone

The Plain of Jars by Nick Lombardi Jr. Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A grieving mother who lost her son to the Vietnam War learns years later that the ashes given to her by the military may not belong to her son after all, leading her to a journey of discovery that will leave her and readers shocked in author Nick Lombardi Jr.’s novel “The Plain of Jars”. 

The Synopsis

2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize entry!

What would you do if you found that the bones and ashes you were given by the Air Force were not the remains of your loved one? Dorothy Kozeny, a 64-year-old widow from a small town in Ohio, after getting no answers from the relevant authorities, decides the only thing to do is to go to Laos herself to search for the truth concerning her son’s fate. In 1990, accompanied by a trusted Laotian called Kampeng, Dorothy travels deep into the mountains of rural Laos, attempting to trace her son’s path through inhospitable terrain, an unforgettable trek that provides her with a rewarding, often humorous, and at times frustrating, cross-cultural experience. All clues lead her to a mysterious figure, an alleged CIA operative left over from the war, living in a remote and hostile area deep in the jungle. The second part of the book traces the life of this enigmatic character hiding in Laos, the two main characters linked through Dorothy’s son.

The Review

This was a powerful and emotional story that focused on the pain and loss families feel for loved ones lost to war, the horrors many soldiers witness and are forced to become a part of during war, the injustices committed during the Vietnam War, and the struggle to let go of violence and hatred to lead a more peaceful and happy life. 

While the story did a great job of showcasing both the more modern day struggle of a mother looking for her long thought dead son and the past of the son’s journey through a hellish war, his attempt to escape it, and those who ruthlessly fought to stop him, the true heart of this novel was the backdrop of Laos and the Plain of Jars themselves. 

Those unfamiliar with the history of this area and site should know that during the Vietnam war, more bombs were dropped by the U.S. Military on the Plain of Jars in Laos than in the entirety of WWII, and over 80 million of these bombs remain a constant danger to the people there as they failed to detonate at the time and remain hidden in the area. This story highlighted the struggle of the people of Laos and the horrors they and the soldiers in the country bore witness to during this war. The savagery in which soldiers and operatives were trained to become monsters, and the struggle to use peace and non-violence to combat that savagery, took a major portion of this book and readers will instantly connect with the characters as a result of this particular piece of the story.

The Verdict

This was a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, impactful and engaging read that fans will not want to miss. Author Nick Lombardi Jr. does it again with this memorable story that captures the era and history of this devastating war, and brings to life the unpleasant truths of the loss and pain it caused on both sides. In the end however, what truly stood out amongst all of this horror and heartbreak was the love and passion for which a mother fought to either find her son or at least get the truth of his passing out for the world to see. A mother’s love can be felt in every chapter of Dorothy’s tale, and makes her son Andrew’s backstory all the more powerful. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of Nick Lombardi Jr.’s novel “The Plain of Jars” today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Author Nick Lombardi Jr. has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and he speaks five languages. An event in California in 2011 in which a homeless man was beaten to death lead Nick to write his newest novel, Justice Gone. Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 

Online: FacebookAuthor Website

Interview with Author N. Lombardi Jr.

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Born and raised in New York City, I left to see the world at age 24 as a water engineer in the Peace Corps. For most of my life, I had never entertained the idea of becoming an author. My career as a groundwater specialist kept me busy enough, filled with both adventure and satisfaction with my job. However, while in Kenya I fell in love with a woman, and this relationship was doomed from the start. As a kind of catharsis, I began to write a semi-autobiographical story which became Journey Towards a Falling Sun. As I said, it was the need to purge my emotions that drove me, without immediate plans for publishing, as I was in the prime of life as regards to my vocation. But in 1985, I did manage to get an agent who was very enthusiastic over the manuscript. After fifteen rejections by big publishing houses, however, I gave up and shelved it, abandoning any thoughts about being a writer. It wasn’t published until 30 years later.

In 1996, while working in Laos, I learned of the secret war that the US conducted for 9 years, and resulted in the aerial bombardment that has given that country the dubious distinction of being the most heavily bombed country of all time. As an American, I was ashamed of my ignorance of this matter, for I had never known of this secret war. I was so moved, I decided I would write an epic novel that would illustrate the consequences of that war which became The Plain of Jars, released in 2013. And from there my path as a writer began.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

The idea for Justice Gone came from a true incident – the fatal beating of a homeless man in California. It was such an outrageous act, recorded on video and uploaded to YouTube, that I wondered what would happen if someone who saw the gruesome video would mete out their own version of justice to the police officers involved.

The novel then, is a tale of what happens in a small town following the fatal beating of a homeless Iraqi war vet at the hands of police. A cascading series of events, from street protests to a vigilante shooting of three police officers leads to a multi-state manhunt for the vet’s war time buddy. A controversial trial attracting nationwide attention dominates the second half of the novel. The story ends with a twist revealing the identity of the cop-killer

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Although deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers disturb me, I tried to avoid taking too strong a stand against the police, and just presented a possible (albeit extreme) scenario if this issue is not addressed. I also wanted readers to have a detailed look at the legal system in the US, i.e. the importance of lawyer tactics on both sides of the bench and of jury sentiment in deciding a case.

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4) What drew you into this particular genre?

First of all, I don’t consider myself a genre writer, I just write about things that move me. Having said that, as a reader I do enjoy mystery/thriller/suspense/crime, so I may be writing more of this kind of fiction from now on. It is much easier to write this sort of stuff than cross-cultural adventure novels such as my first two books, The Plain of Jars, set in Laos, and Journey Towards a Falling Sun, set in Kenya.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would have to say, the policemen that beat Jay Felson to death – Why, when he was unarmed, did it take 6 cops to bring him down and beat him till he died?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I’m really not active in the social media scene, so I would have to say Goodreads, despite the fact I find Goodreads a bit exploitive and disdainful of independent authors. As a reader, it is pretty good. I tried Facebook, but it isn’t focused enough and being an old fart, I’m mistrustful of Twitter. I love book bloggers, thank god for them!

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Although it sounds cliché, the first thing is to write well. Many independent authors, particularly those who self-publish, write with a quality barely above a high school student. You don’t have to be a wordsmith, but the book should not sound stilted. Read passages from a book by an acclaimed author than read your stuff. How does it compare?

Secondly, unless you’re with a big publishing house, be prepared to market your work. You should have a budget of $2,000 for this, even if you are very active on social media, because it’s always better for someone else to tout your book than you as the author. That means reviews, which can only result from exposure.

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8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m in the process of fine-tuning another Tessa Thorpe novel, Woman in the Shadow. It takes place several years prior to the setting of Justice Gone, and is considerably darker, more of a psychological/suspense thriller. I actually wrote this before Justice Gone, but I was disappointed with the publisher’s reaction to it so I shelved it. Directly related to this, I’m looking for another publisher, so I hope it doesn’t take too long for the book to come out.

Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr. Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

An emotionally and politically charged thriller like no other, author N. Lombardi Jr. is set to release one of the most relevant and headline grabbing novels of the year with his upcoming release, Justice Gone. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase. Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge? Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. N Lombardi Jr. is the author of compelling and heartfelt novel The Plain of Jars.

The Review

My first reaction to this novel was simply…wow. Between the relatable and attention grabbing characters to the heartbreaking and straight from the headlines story and the vivid imagery, this novel truly came to life in ways few novels are ever really able to get to. The issues discussed through the character’s struggles, from homelessness and racism to police brutality and neglecting the needs of those suffering from mental health struggles (most notably in this novel war veterans), made this novel feel not only gripping and engrossing, but important.

The complex issue of right and wrong takes center stage as readers have to not only see the horrible crimes the police are able to commit against citizens, but the tragic cycle of violence that occurs when these issues are left unchecked. I recently saw an interview in which a student remarked that what’s moral and ethical is not always what’s legal, and this novel really brings this sentiment to life. At what point do we start standing up to immoral acts that are protected by technically legal tactics? Do we as a society share any responsibility for crimes committed due to these injustices or the lack of care for those suffering through traumatic mental health struggles? That’s what this novel delves into as the mystery behind the brutal killings of three cops slowly but surely get untangled throughout the book.

The Verdict

This is a must read novel of 2019! Full of edge of your seat twists and turns and a story that touches on the pulse of our current society, this novel excels in every way, delivering a story full of heart and emotion that doesn’t always pair with a good thriller, but in this case it does and then some. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder your copy of Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr (or grab your copy if you’re reading this after February 22nd, 2019), today! 

Rating: 10/10

Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr. Tessa Thorpe.

Publication Date
February 22, 2019

GOODREADS LINK:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40398725-justice-gone

NETGALLEY:

https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/152931

Amazon link – 

Author Bio


Author Nick Lombardi Jr. has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and he speaks five languages. An event in California in 2011 in which a homeless man was beaten to death lead Nick to write his newest novel, Justice Gone. Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 
Online: FacebookAuthor Website

Previous Titles from this author
Journey Towards a Falling Sun (9781782794943), Roundfire, 2014. 

The Plain of Jars (9781780996707), Roundfire, 2013.

Categories
FICTION (General)(FIC031030) -> Thrillers (General)(FIC031030) -> Legal(FIC031030)
FICTION (General)(FIC022040) -> Mystery & Detective (General)(FIC022040) -> Women Sleuths(FIC022040)
FICTION (General)(FIC031010) -> Thrillers (General)(FIC031010) -> Crime(FIC031010)

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