ITO Press (2019)
Reviewed by Mark T. Sneed for Reader Views 6/2020
“Justice!” is an ambitious novel by Heath Daniels. There is a lot going on between the covers. There are seven prologues before the tale begins, which suggest that this will be an interesting read. The fictional tale is set mainly in Texas and the story is the third book of the series.
According to Daniels each book is a standalone book and can be picked up in any order. I enjoyed the writing and the story is interesting and plausible. The problem is there are two dueling accounts with Yusef as the main character and Nisrine a secondary voice. The story line is a little complicated as a result. Daniels tries to remedy this with a bunch of backstories before the action and events get rolling.
The main thread rests with the FBI investigation into a crime in a small town in Texas, but the overarching theme that dominates this novel is the cultural shock of a failed Texas relocation of Muslims to smaller towns where they try to fit in with sometimes hostile residents.
In the writing Yusef, a Muslim, who is working for the Attorney General, is trying to solve a possible hate crime mystery in a small town in Texas and prove himself a capable investigator and not just a Muslim investigator, while a Shia Muslim, Nisrine, who has resettled in Michigan but happened to grow up in Dallas, struggles with a calling that draws him back to Texas. Not wanting to give too much away in this culture shock crime detective novel, but readers learn that not all Muslims are the same or even close.
Daniels’s writing is detailed and clear. Daniels is a considerate writer as well, labeling events with markers and pictures. I read a lot of books and it is interesting to see pictures of actual buildings and monuments on the pages that the author was writing about. It seemed as if “Justice!” was written with the goal of possibly being a screenplay to a fictional true-crime docuseries, if that even exists, or an East-meets-West movie in the making.
“Justice!” seems a detective novel wrapped in a religious book. The book is 270 pages and has a host of characters. Daniels tries to keep the story moving forward but with so much going on, this reader had to focus on the main story. Hope that Heath Daniels continues writing and attempting to grapple with big topics, but perhaps one topic at a time.