This review from January of 2013, "Attaining . . . January Justice".
January Justice by Athol Dickson presents a new page in the ever-changing writing endeavors by this novelist. Available in soft cover and for e-readers on Amazon.com, January Justice gives us the first book in The Malcom Cutter Memoirs. I loved this book. In fact, it replaces Winter Haven as my favorite in the Athol Dickson arsenal of novels. Athol was born to write this series. Without forfeiting the wordsmith label and by supplying a meaningful and desirable protagonist, January Justice excels in this crime fiction genre.
Malcolm Cutter, former Marine engaged in Special Forces, lost his mind and the love of his life, actress Haley Lane, during a break in the provided studio trailer while shooting a film. The beautiful Haley Lane plunged to her death as he broke his hand trying to put it through the trailer's wall under bizarre and terrifying circumstances which neither of them suspected or could control.
Malcolm Cutter recovers in the guest house on the expansive estate of Haley Lane after being released from a mental hospital. His thoughts often escape to surreal places accompanied by outlandish visions, and he is regularly having to talk himself out of believing what his mind conveys to his visual and sometimes his audio senses. His occupation is that of chauffeur and it used to include being "Miss" Lane's bodyguard until he failed to achieve that duty one freaky frightening evening which resulted in tragedy for both of them. Now he's still in the chauffeur business but has added private security/inquiry to his résumé.
Simon, the amazing, almost omniscient British butler, makes sure Malcolm has what he needs even when he knows Malcom doesn't intend to take care of himself. Teru, the pipe-smoking attorney-gardener, also insists on inserting himself into the well-being of Malcolm Cutter, all of them having one thing in common: their love and respect for the deceased Haley Lane. That one thing forges them into an odd but loyal camaraderie and friendship which proves beneficial to them all.
Two Guatemalan professionals hire Malcolm to debunk the evidence which stated the old murder of an actress's husband, who was responsible for "the disappearing" of many Guatemalan's, was due to their political organization. When Malcolm takes the case, all kinds of chaos erupts, adding to the decision he must make as to whether or not life holds any value for him anymore now that Haley's dead and her case is cold.
With a variety of twists and turns leaving just enough loose ends untied for the next book in the series due out later this year, the complex plot lurches and dives into the old and new and eventually forces Malcolm Cutter to make those hard decisions about the fragile faith he barely clings to and why his life has been spared multiple times.
I found the imagery of various locations in Los Angeles and Guatemala intriguing and well done, providing vivid pictures of all kinds of landscapes from the rich and famous to the dirt poor. The development of Malcolm Cutter provides us with an instant establishment of his pain and confusion but gradually adds the layers of his depth of integrity, devotion, and ingrained toughness even when he doesn't want to use it. Personal reflections flesh out the absentee character of Haley Lane and make it easier to experience his loss. Blaming himself for her death has robbed him of a vital part of his being, and we hope that in the next story he'll begin to reassess his value in the investigation of her death and that self-defining purpose he needs to survive.
I reiterate I loved this book. Highly recommend it to readers of crime fiction and thrillers. Kudos and high praise to Athol Dickson for excelling in a new thing with his writing.
Father, please continue to bless this new chapter for Athol. Supply the stories, the depth he always includes in his writing, and instruct him in all things he does for your glory. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.