In Danger of Judgment, a Well-Crafted Gangland Crime Thriller

The Bottom Line: A well-crafted gangland crime thriller with a fascinating military subplot and a deliciously mysterious villain.

Set on the mean streets of Chicago in 1987, In Danger of Judgment follows two police officers as they work eight drug-related murders. All were professional hits with no witnesses. 

Chicago Police Detective Marcelle DeSantis isn’t afraid of using her good looks to attract the attention of gang members who would otherwise never give her the time of day. Marcelle and partner Bernie Bernardelli need any advantage they can get. Local gangs prefer to take care of their own business, and even ordinary civilians in the neighborhood are tight-lipped. 

But Marcelle and Bernie soon discover that the crime wave is far from just a local issue. General Trinh Van Quan, formerly of the North Vietnamese Army, is now an international drug lord with an empire that extends from Burma to Laos, Thailand, China, the United States and elsewhere. More interestingly, Quan’s head of security is American expat Robert Thornton, who served in U.S. intelligence between World War II and the early 1950s. A deliciously mysterious villain, Thornton became a mercenary in Asia prior to betraying his former countrymen during the Vietnam war. 

While typical gangland crime fiction focuses on those at the tail end of the distribution chain, author David Rabin elevates the genre to new heights in a collision of cultures and global players. Thornton’s storyline in particular is a complex but satisfying one involving history across multiple time periods in multiple theaters of conflict. Rabin takes his time in demonstrating the connective tissue between the book’s Vietnam-era prologue and 80s Chicago, but the result is a novel that both history buffs and crime fiction fans can get behind. In particular, the level of military detail Rabin has no doubt gone to great lengths to get right sets In Danger of Judgment apart from the rest. 

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