4 out of 4 stars
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A quick and intense probe into a marriage and the justice system!
Can you be taken up with a job so much that your relationships suffer? Would you stay with a job when you're disenchanted with the system? Can a marriage be saved when both parties misunderstand each other? These are the questions that the novella Justice explore. Written by Scott Hughes, the founder of this esteemed website, Justice probes into several situations that lead to deeper explorations of marital affairs, state prosecutions and how the justice system works, or doesn't work, for some.
When the novella begins, we meet Brynn and Marcus Malley, a married couple facing issues relating to personality clashes. Brynn is fiery and spontaneous while Marcus is quiet and predictable. Keeping their feelings to themselves, they resent the other for either being too distant or too emotional. With frustration and tension on both sides, an unfortunate event occurs when Marcus comes home early from work...and he ends up on trial for murder. The narrative changes to the perspective of prosecutor Joseph Bronson, now assigned to the trial's proceedings. In examining Marcus's case, Joseph ponders over his own place in the system, and also on his relationship with his wife and children.
Questions and musings abound in this story. The characters do a lot of thinking and given the situation, it works well. Readers are taken on a journey through a marriage, murder and a court case, and the line between right and wrong is not always clear. Marcus, Brynn and Joseph feel justified in their actions, or they do what they have to do in order to fulfill some sort of obligation. Reflecting on past experiences allow both the characters and readers to examine the meaning of relationships while balancing a job, of the mundane reality of a "happy" marriage and of maintaining integrity in a seemingly unfair legal system that favors the rich.
With short chapters in an already-short story, there is never a dull moment in Justice. The heavy introspection taking place is linked to the characters' actions at specific moments, and this comes across as relatable and believable in their various contexts. The novella is well-edited and the writing is sharp and concise, without any rambling sentences. I like the moral ambiguity displayed across the story. Without obvious answers, the characters are forced to think deeper into situations, and this brings their experiences and feelings into the mix. Mr. Hughes has crafted good characters who aren't afraid to ask pertinent questions that we wouldn't have considered otherwise - What is a woman supposed to do if she feels emotionally abused by her husband? How can a renowned prosecutor care about his job in an uncaring system? What can be done when the daily reality of work affects passion in a relationship?
I am rating this story as four out of four stars. This novella got me thinking about many things long after I had finished reading. The quick chapters added to the pace and tension, and even if you're not from the US, the story can still encourage you to think about the legal system in your own country. If I had to mention one thing I disliked, it was the change in perspective from Marcus and Brynn to the prosecutor Joseph, but reading on, I was able to appreciate his dilemma and experiences. In terms of recommendations, there are some instances of obscene language and sexual references, so those under 18 can stay away from this one. However, any adult can enjoy this story, especially since the novella format allows for a quick read. If you want to see a character-driven tale probing into marital issues and a murder trial, then be my guest and enjoy this novella. Some good reflection is guaranteed after you swipe the last page.
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