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Substantial Justice: A Novel


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About the Author

Daniel Ben-Horin made his literary debut as editor of the Fountain Pen literary magazine of McBurney Junior High School in New York in 1960, but detoured in favor of a career as a journalist, early online flaneur, and social entrepreneur. He has written nonfiction for the New York Times, Mother Jones, the Nation, and other periodicals. He attended Bronx Science and the University of Chicago, was fired by the Arizona Republic, edited the Arizona New Times, organized tenants and media workers in San Francisco and built, over the course of thirty years, a global nonprofit called TechSoup. This is his first novel.


"Substantial Justice is a rewarding story of several conflicting campaigns of love, vengeance and paranoia played out against the straitened landscape of American cultural and political panic. Ben-Horin’s novel of suspense kept me flipping pages as if it were a news crawl of breaking headlines."
—Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked

"It’s not often that a well-plotted thriller abounds with incisive and amusing social history. In fact, I can’t think of one, or certainly none in the league of Daniel Ben-Horin’s Substantial Justice. If you were around in the late ’70s or early ’80s, particularly in San Francisco, rural Northern California, or New York City, the tonic shocks of recognition come thick and fast. If you weren’t, you’re in for a different sort of treat. Either way, the details are revealing and exact. Then there is the love story that frames the murder story, plus the weirdly contemporary far-right militia story and the early-internet subplot. Best of all, the romantic leads are witty and complicated and you’ll root for them just as you root for the pure-hearted pair in a Jane Austen novel. There it is—Raymond Chandler meets Jane Austen in post-Vietnam America. Excellent stuff."—William Finnegan, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Barbarian Days

"Substantial Justice captures the spirit of San Francisco at the very dawn of the Internet age, long before the arrival of the tech bros, set in a time when personal computing was just starting to slip into the public conciousness. Daniel Ben-Horin has woven a fast-paced tale that offers authentic portraits of both the American Left and Right, exploring the roots of our current Trumpian dystopia."
—John Markoff, author of Machines of Loving Grace

"Substantial Justice is a joy to read—who can resist a mix of intrigue, cannabis, and fraught romance? It’s a literary thriller with a wildly accurate sense of the era it depicts—and great lines uttered by great characters. A winner."
—Joan Silber, PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author of Improvement

“Ben-Horin’s comic death rattle of the sixties unleashes a wondrous set of lost souls who ricochet around the Reagan era following their bliss but finding only each other—which leads to sex, murder, and hopeless political causes. As a view of America it is strangely hopeful.”
—Ron Shelton, writer/director of Bull Durham and White Men Can’t Jump

"Substantial Justice is a humorous thriller set in a tumultuous time." —Foreword
"In this remarkable first novel, Ben-Horin offers adept prose with plenty of moments of humor... The major characters are all fully realized, down to their small quirks... A deftly composed and highly enjoyable crime story." —Kirkus
"Substantial Justice by Daniel Ben-Horin deftly blends elements of dark humor, romance, with those of a deftly crafted and fully original suspense thriller of a read..." —Midwest Book Review

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