Though Wade Jackson has by far the best clearance rate of any detective in the Eugene, Oregon Police Department, he’s never worked a cold case before, which is what he’s up against in Dying for Justice, the fifth book in author L.J. Sellers’s series featuring the detective.
A handyman who confessed to a double-murder eleven years prior retracts his statement, telling Jackson he was isolated, starved, and tortured for three days by detectives before finally breaking down and confessing just to make it all stop. The handyman is dying of cancer and has nothing to gain by lying, and even shows Jackson the scars from where he was burned with cigarettes.
Investigating an eleven-year-old cold case is hard. Investigating one that apparently resulted in the conviction of the wrong man based on police misconduct is a minefield. Oh, and the victims? They were Jackson’s parents. This is going to get bumpy.
Meanwhile, Jackson’s partner/protégé, Detective Lara Evans, has a cold case of her own. Gina Stahl has been in a coma for two years, one everyone thought was the result of an intentional overdose. When Gina suddenly awakens, however, she declares that she was in fact attacked in her apartment and that the overdose must have been administered by her attacker. Further, though he was wearing a mask Gina is confident her attacker was her ex-husband, who just happens to be a cop… a cop Gina was on the verge of exposing for abusing his authority, actually. Did I mention things were going to get bumpy?
Yesterday in her guest post, L.J. explored the use of the term “thriller” in labeling fiction, wondering where the line was which separates thrillers from mysteries. The truth is the line is a slippery one, but if ever there was a book that firmly had one foot each planted in both the thriller and mystery categories it’s Dying for Justice. Though the cases Jackson and Evans are investigating are long since cold and the perpetrators unknown, things heat up when Jackson and Evans begin experiencing blowback and even physical attacks in efforts to warn them off their investigations. And when a new body gets added to the mix, things become as high stakes as they get.
Told in chapters which alternate point of view between Jackson and Evans, Dying for Justice unfolds in investigative lines which crisscross and interweave like the strands of a spiderweb, which is fitting, as the plot Sellers has constructed is complex and beautiful, sticky and deadly. You don’t have to have read the previous entries in the series to enjoy Dying for Justice, which is actually something of a coming-out party for Evans, who until now had been a more minor character, but I’m confident once you get a taste of what Sellers is serving up you’ll want to go back for more.