A screenwriter and former attorney, Goodman has written a legal thriller that segues from murder to courtroom, Injustice driven more by the legal dramas of particular characters than the actions that brought them into the justice system. Protagonist Nick Davis is a federal prosecutor; his wife, Tina, formerly employed in his office, is currently a defense attorney for the Innocence Project. While Nick is involved in a complicated case of political corruption a long time in the making, Tina
hopes to secure a new trial for a man wrongfully convicted for the murder of a child.
Office concerns are temporarily put aside for the coming Fourth of July, a celebration attended by Nick, Tina, their four-year-old son, Barnaby, Nick’s daughter, Lizzie (from his first marriage to Flora), and Tina’s sister, Lydia, newly engaged to
a prosecutor in Nick’s office, Henry Tatlock. Severely scarred in a fire as a child, Henry has managed a successful career and the love of Tina’s younger sister, embraced by the family along with Nick’s ex-wife and her husband, Chip, an FBI agent. The extended family has begun to gather for the fireworks display at the park when tragedy strikes, just the beginning of a nightmare Davis fears will destroy the life he has built. Lydia is murdered on her way through the park, a brutal event that shatters the entire family. With few suspects or viable clues, the police begin interviewing anyone in Lydia’s life.
Lydia’s murder begins a long and painful search for the perpetrator, an investigation that examines every aspect of Lydia’s life, no matter how insignificant, even her serendipitous career path and relationship with Henry Tatlock. Not only has the murder devastated his family, particularly Tina, but infects the prosecutor’s office with questions and uncertainty, even affecting the case Nick has been piloting for the Attorney General. Nick’s work is threatened by radically changing events, the prosecutors adapting to each challenge to save months of exhaustive research.
Meanwhile, Tina is drowning in grief, only recently surviving a serious health scare
and seeking refuge in her work. Less and less communicative, Tina asks Nick to leave, needing to come to terms with the violence that has intruded into their lives. Nick concedes, clinging to the hope that he will be asked to return. His complex case is under attack, Tina is consumed by an opportunity to gain a new trial for her client, and detectives are on the verge of an arrest in the murder. The family is on an emotional rollercoaster, Nick and Tina’s particular cases not only facilitating distance but emphasizing their opposite perspectives, prosecutor and defense lawyer. Opinions that might normally inspire spirited discussion become instead another wedge between husband and wife.
Goodman’s style of writing is dry and intellectual, his protagonist a man most comfortable with control, a personal flaw that proves an asset in his career but not his marriage. For every action he takes, every decision he makes, right or wrong, there is a rational explanation--even for the shocking denouement at the end of the book. This paternalistic penchant does little to humanize Davis, whose choices dominate the plot, the author often so bogged down in laborious courtroom details that his characters are flat. Goodman, like Davis, seems more comfortable with process than the emotional complexities of relationships. This approach robs his tale of vitality, reducing Injustice to a courtroom procedural.