Justice by Scott Hughes is the Book of the Day selection from OnlineBookClub.org for 31 January 2017. The 82-page novella is available for Amazon for USD 2.99 but samples are free. The language used in the preface caused me to buy the book; the language is elegant, complex, and thought-provoking. The author’s name had a familiar ring to it but we will get to that later.
Part One introduces the reader to Brynn Malley, a person who feels mentally and emotionally abused. Her description of why she feels that way and how she is setting things right occupies the rest of the sample. Brynn may be in love but it is not with Marcus. Her choice of weapon to resolve problems, sex, is not an unusual choice but the outcomes are usually unpredictable. I was hooked; I bought the novella; an author couldn’t ask much more from a reader except an honest review.
Part Two focuses on Marcus Malley, Brynn’s husband, who is described as a patient man. He is patient with everyone and everything. His job is boring but he patiently does it. He believes Brynn complains too much but he patiently listens. Marcus feels that he is in love with Brynn. His quality of patience might have been seen as a challenge by Brynn. How far could she test his patience? She will describe her limit with this sentence “We lost track of time.” (loc 219).
Part Three is all about a lawyer, Joseph Bronson. He is involved with Brynn and Marcus Malley and it is arguable whether he is representing Brynn. He is definitely not representing Marcus. Perhaps Joseph is a patient man. Possibly he is only resigned to where he is in life. He operates, or gets through the day, on two levels. On one level he is performing duties in a rather perfunctory way as he follows learned procedures that have long since become routine. On a second level, he reflects on the differences between real and imagined justice. Are there consequences that fit crimes or are punishments awarded as if they were drawn from a lottery basket? He also finds time while on this second level to reflect on the love he has for his family, his wife and two daughters.
In Part Four we meet a reflective Marcus. It is either a good time to reflect or it doesn’t matter. An opinion on that choice is left to the reader. I hate spoilers and try not to write them. But I observed that this novella is overall a reflection on acceptance of how things are. The reflections contain criticism of the status quo but all characters seem unwilling (some are unable) to make positive efforts that will affect change, either good or bad.
The writing style and voice made me buy the novel and I both enjoyed it and recommend it as an interesting and enjoyable fast read that will break up a routine day. There were a couple of unusual vocabulary choices that an editor seems to have overlooked. One appears in the section More Traffic. “Marcus presses on his breaks causing everyone in line, who merged early like the signs instructed, to once again step on their breaks.” (loc 202). That this word appears twice illustrates the problem of spellcheck programs. The second example is from discussion question three. “Who do you think was more to blame for the martial problems they were having?” (loc 576-577). It is possible that both partners in the marital situation were equally skilled in karate but nothing else in the novella hints at that. Although there was an intimate relationship that Brynn had with Gregory.
This is a fun read. Read the sample and see if you can walk away from the novella.