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Name:             J. David Liss

Title:                The Judged

Genre:             Suspense

Comparables: A Time to Scatter Stones, the latest in Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder Series (2019), and Boulevard, by Stephen Jay Schwartz (2009)

Hook Line:     

Sex-addicted NYPD detective Jimmy Lombardi is outed in the courtroom where his wife is a judge. Soon after, she is accused of murdering one of his affair partners. Now, he’s got to clear her name and find the real killer at a time when his wife doesn’t trust him and his fellow police won’t work with him.


Jimmy Lombardi is the smartest detective in Brooklyn. He’s so smart he thinks that no one will discover his secret life as a sex addict, until the lawyer for a gang reveals in court that she’s been sleeping with Jimmy, reveals it to Judge Lucy Lombardi, Jimmy’s wife. When the lawyer is murdered, the clues point to Lucy as the killer. Her motive is obvious – revenge.

Jimmy is convinced Lucy didn’t do it. He’s got to find the real killer. But he’s no longer trusted by the NYPD or his wife. Ordered to stay away from the case, he clashes with the other detectives, the rival gangs of Brooklyn, and ultimately a plot that includes police departments across the country to overthrow the U.S. Government.

But no one believes him.

Prose Sample:

The Judged

By J. David Liss



            Walking through the tenement courtyards was like walking through a maze made out of dirty yellow bricks, the kind they use to build prisons.

            I grew up in a building like this. I sent people to prisons made of these bricks.

            The apartments were built where 14th Avenue meets Church Avenue. They have corridors underneath that run down to several levels of basements, where dirty laundry rooms churn worn clothes. The corridors are so confusing they could have been designed by M.C. Escher, and so filled with rats they could have been built by Alfred Skinner.

            The lowest level is where the hot boilers and cold incinerators are set. The incinerators were darkened decades ago by air pollution laws, so that Brooklynites wouldn’t have to breath in their neighbors’ endless garbage, burned into black smoke.

            Here I was, needing to pick a doorway that will lead to one of the subbasements. The sun was heading toward dusk and pulling shadows across the open courtyard, like a guard closing a barred gate.

            I wasn’t sure which door my guy had taken.

            Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven started circling in my head, annoying the shit out of me.

Yes there are two paths you can go by

but in the long run

there’s still time to change the road you’re on.

            The dealer I was following was going to meet with his supplier beneath these tenements. If I picked the wrong door, I would not have time to change the road I was on. They would hand-off of a backpack of heroin and Fentanyl, and be gone.

            Which door to pick?

            Damn, the guitar riff that follows that line was now banging around in my head. Bwaaa, bwadawadawadawada wawuh. I was born in 1983, but my parents were born in the late 50’s and I grew up listening to 1970’s rock. Zep was getting in my way of figuring out a problem.

            Which door?

            They would go to meet in the boiler room, not the laundry room. There was too much of a possibility that someone would be in the laundry room at dusk. My mother used to send me to do the laundry at dusk, when school was done and I told her my homework was finished. There were always the same people doing laundry at the same time.

            Which door led to the boiler?

                    And as we wind on down the road

                    our shadows taller than our souls

            Our shadows are taller than our souls in this business; we’re just stuffed with shadows until they drip out the sides of our mouths like tobacco spit.

            The incinerators are long ago defunct, but they never tore down the chimneys. The chimney would be located directly above the old incinerator.

            I couldn’t see the chimney from the courtyard, but I could see the longest shadow cast across the cement floor. That shadow aligned perfectly with the second door.

            The shadow was my guide.



In 1984 J. David Liss received an MFA from Brooklyn College. Trained in writing and inclined to politics, he became a speechwriter, then a lobbyist. In the past 35 years, Liss has worked in corporate, academic, and healthcare centers and all his work has been touched by literature (he likes to think). He’s published 18 short stories, including in “Caustic Frolic,” “The MacGuffin,” “Lake Effect,” “Blood and Thunder,” “Forge,” “Inscape,” and others. His poetry has appeared in “Fifth Wednesday Journal,” “Euphony,” “Poetry Quarterly,” and others.  




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