I’m a fan of Athol Dickson’s fiction: River Rising, The Cure, Winter Haven, Lost Mission, The Opposite of Art. They are extraordinary novels that are officially classified “Christian fiction” but go well beyond the genre with their broad appeal.
In the 1990s, before Dickson wrote these novels, he wrote several mystery stories – the Garrison Reed series. And now, with January Justice: The Malcolm Cutter Memoirs, he’s back to mystery and suspense.
It’s a complex story, and a great story, comprised of several interconnected sub-stories that weave together in an intriguing, entertaining narrative.
Malcolm Cutter has just been released from a mental hospital. His wife, the much-loved and admired actress Haley Lane, is dead, driven to leap from a cliff by an overdose of LSD, the same overdose that caused Cutter to nearly lose his mind.
Virtually no one knew they had been married. Cutter had been her driver and bodyguard, and he wanted to keep their marriage quiet because of his past. A former U.S. marine, he had been involved in an insurgency in Guatemala and military duty in the Balkans, and had been dishonorably discharged because of an incident in Afghanistan.
His mind still fragile, he agrees to look into a kidnapping from years before. The more he looks, the more his own past comes forward. In short order, he survives a bombing attack, a vicious beating by a street gang, his own attempted murder, and arrest and jail. And then things get really interesting.
Dickson draws his characters well. Even the villains are painted in detail, to the point that the reader’s skin crawls whenever the villains show up (and there are a lot of villains and possible villains). The more Cutter deals with them, the more the story seems confusing, with any number of possible outcomes. And then he learns that the death of his wife is a factor in the case.
We watch Malcolm Cutter, a broken and brokenhearted man with old-fashioned ideas of honor, try to make his way and find out what is really happening, and what happened to his wife and himself. And somehow, he’s going to have to come to terms with it, or die in the process.
January Justice is an action-packed thrill of read by a fine writer who brings formidable talents to his storytelling.
Related - my reviews of books by Athol Dickson: