A Cure for Night
By Justin Peacock
“That’s what...criminal law is: it’s how the day tries to correct the night’s mistakes...
“What does that make us? ...night’s janitors?
“We’re absolutely that...a cure for night.” (p. 152)
I think I was most intrigued by the concept of Justin Peacock’s novel, A Cure for Night. Consider that the majority of crime is committed during night/dark hours; you quickly realize that, indeed, criminal lawyers could be called the nation’s janitors—or more, its doctors!
Based upon that concept, Peacock takes readers into all facets of various law cases, looking deeply into the lives of many of the main characters. I don’t recall becoming so empathic toward characters’ lives in other legal novels or, perhaps, I was just more drawn to those created by Peacock. Bottom line--A Cure for Night pulled me in and held me until the end...and beyond...
Joel Deveraux began his legal career at one of New York’s most prestigious law firms, earning a six-figure salary that was exchanged for most of his waking hours. That was until he met Beth, a paralegal assigned to one of his cases. Along with fulfilling Joel’s sexual needs, Beth introduced him to heroin. But when Beth OD’d and the death was investigated, Joel was scrutinized and found guilty—guilty enough to lose his position and be placed on probation for retention of his law license.
He was finally able to acquire a new position—as a Brooklyn public defender. While his new boss knew the background that led to his “resignation” from his former position, Joel wondered how long it would be for word to leak out. In the meantime, he was inundated with minor misdemeanor cases, most of which were handled by plea-bargaining.
Finally, after putting in sufficient time, his boss assigned him to assist in a big new murder case. Although Myra Goldstein was not thrilled, she made the best of it, while still letting Joel know that this case was definitely hers! The defendant was Lorenzo Tate, a black drug dealer of marijuana who had never been caught and jailed! The victims were a white college honors student who had been killed while he was talking with a major drug dealer, who had only been injured.
“A criminal trial is a search for the truth, but the defense lawyer isn’t a member of the search party.” (p. 72)
The case is clear-cut from the prosecution’s standpoint. He has two major witnesses: Devin Wallace’s sister who claimed that Tate was threatening her brother regarding money he owed him. The other claims to have seen Tate run by her the night of the crime, carrying a gun.
For Joel and Myra, they must defend their client, no matter what is or is not the truth. But in doing so, an innocent man is later shot and Joel and Myra face their own deaths, as lies are used to manipulate those involved!
Joel’s past use of drugs becomes part of the picture as more than one of his clients become involved in the “whodunit” investigation. And Joel and Myra find that, for this case, justice and truth will not be found, in the courtroom—or, on the streets!
Peacock’s debut is a winner from my standpoint. His movement deep into the entire case was a welcome addition. Although there is a feel of Raising the Bar, the impact is more slowly developed as discovery is made, and thus momentous as the book’s surprise ending comes! Highly recommended by a lover of drama!
G. A. Bixler
For Amazon vine