Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary Political Thriller
Tainted Justice is the first work of fiction written by V. M. Gopaul, a seasoned 9 time non-fiction author. Tainted Justice is the story of one man fighting for his convictions against all odds. Gopaul’s background in the tech industry, and thorough understanding of the American political system, heightens the believability of a classic story that could easily be ripped from the headlines. Gopaul’s in-depth look at the secret machinations of the corporate big-boys, and the games they play with government officials, brings a modern spin to the well-known Watergate Issue.
Gopaul excels at delivering realism within his fiction. This is clearly a case where the author is pulling directly from experience and giving readers an inside glimpse into bureaucracy at its most sinister moments. Remaining true to the craft, Gopaul keeps the action and suspense rising throughout the entire book.
My favourite character is Terrence, a former hacker turned corporate lap-dog, and only life-line to Jason at his new high-security job. The combination of whimsical rule-breaker and geek gives credence to Terrence’s hacker origins and ingrained need to ‘stuff it to the man’ – even if he’s now working for the man. Gopaul has further developed this character’s believability through his interactions with the main character, Jason. Even though these two men work together to figure out who is spying on Jason, their friendship is not strained and remains realistic within the confines of the plot and their distinctive backgrounds.
The book falters in two areas though: the sub-plot revolving around Jason’s family, and the conclusiveness of one particular plot element. While Gopaul has Jason interact with his estranged wife and teenage children, he simply talks about how Jason cares for them. I’m never completely convinced of this love – even when their lives are in danger. Here, Gopaul does not use enough emotional attachment and insight to allow the connection among these characters to flourish. We know Jason loves his family, we know he would do anything for them, but we don’t always see this during his interactions with them or in the quiet moments of his thoughts.
My other concern revolves around the inciting incident – the murders at Softek. The characters are never told what happened. A reporter tries to find out and has her own suspicions, and Jason hears that a good friend of his is the catalyst for the crime and may or may not have killed himself and several others. It is never identified, throughout the entire book, as to whether the public crime is a murder-suicide, a mass-murder, or some variation in between.
That being said, I have read several interviews and blog postings by V. M. Gopaul and I know that he intends to turn Tainted Justice into a trilogy. He has even hinted that the question around the media suspicions gets answered in the following books. My only concern as a reader, and a fellow writer, is that he has left this so open ended and ambiguous that I feel cheated. Even if I don’t get to know the answer right now, I’d like to know that the question hasn’t been forgotten about.
I guess we can only wait for book 2 to find out what is truly going on.
Categories: Book Reviews