BAD JUDGMENT by Matthew Stone


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A dirty deal from the past and a series of chance encounters entangle a celebrity TV judge, his family, and others in a sordid web of crime.

Judge Jackson Hunsicker is the man America loves to hate. The feeling is mutual. From behind the bench of his courtroom set on TV’s Bad Judgment, “weekdays at 4:30,” Hunsicker seethes with loathing for the people his producers dredge up. He sees himself as a moral and superior being, despite leaving his girlfriend Roberta behind at a motel after firing her from his show and having previously accepted a bribe that sent an innocent man named Sloppy Borders to prison for murder. Unfortunately for Jackson, both these incidents are coming back to haunt him faster than he could have ever imagined. A series of surprising connections brings Roberta in contact with a lovesick psychopath named Earl and leaves Sloppy with insider information about Jackson’s wife, Sweetie Pie, and his drugged-up daughter, Arlene. Mysterious notes and silent phone calls lead Jackson to call on the help of a gritty PI named Arthur Spurgle, but it might not be enough to save him from the surprises and past mistakes that are coming to haunt him. Sweetie Pie describes the novel’s LA setting as a place where “everybody was equally vulgar and nobody had to apologize”—the perfect home for these characters. The twisted plot threads, casual drug use, and vulgarities might be a bit much for some readers, but Stone has an exemplary sense of timing that anyone could appreciate. He creates superb black comedy while turning jolts of violence, shocking inner dialogue, and numerous surprising reveals into well-executed punch lines. These are the same sleazy streets readers have visited with hard-boiled masters like James Ellroy and Raymond Chandler, filled with cartoonish character names, huge coincidences, brutal violence, and seedy secrets. However, in the same fashion as more contemporary work, like Quentin Tarantino films, Stone blends in a lighter tone and pays homage to the classics without getting stuck in imitation or parody.

A fast-paced thriller offering an outrageous joy ride through LA’s underbelly.

Page count: 196pp
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2015


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