Welcome to the Urban Girl Reader stop on the Justice by Jennifer Harlow tour. Today we have a special guest post from Detective Joanna Fallon of the Galilee Falls Police Department. Also, be sure to enter the giveaway below to have a chance at winning a copy of this book.
The Injustice of Superpowers
by Det. Joanna Fallon, G.F.P.D. – Jennifer Harlow
This article first appeared in the Op-Ed section of The Galilee Gazette. It was written in response to the recent law that gave superheroes Federal Marshal status in certain circumstances, thus elevating these “vigilantes” to law enforcement officers.
I have been a member of the Galilee Falls Police Department for eleven years. I have four commendations for bravery and valor in the field. Recently, I’ve even been promoted to Priority Homicide, the pinnacle of law enforcement. We get the cases with three or more victims or high profile cases. It took me eleven years to reach the top, and it was a hard climb. Weeks of training, years of riding in a patrol car pulling apart domestic squabbles and bringing in drug dealers, only to be spit at and assaulted then returning the next night to these same people committing the same crimes. I’ve played decoy hooker on freezing nights, had my nose broken twice, waited beside dead children for the ME to arrive, and closed 82% of my cases. I earned my place at the table. I earned my right to keep the citizens of Galilee safe. It wasn’t handed to me by some mutation or gene. I honed my skills through hard work, trial and error, and the guidance of people like my supervisor, Captain Harold O’Hara. I also learned the rules. The rules of our justice system. Fruit of the poisonous tree. Hapeus corpus. These rules are the fabric of our justice system, put in place not to protect criminals but to protect innocent people from going to jail for crimes they did not commit. This system is not perfect, by any means, but it’s the best we’ve got. And these “heroes” and their tactics fly, some literally, in the face of said system. And not only do they all but spit in the face of the system they claim to support, the system I’d lay my life down for, they bring with them monsters that would destroy us all.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The superhero or the supervillain? If there was not one, would there be the other? It’s a debate for the ages with no clear cut answer. People are born with these abilities. They do not choose to have them, I realize that. And I can sympathize. I couldn’t help but be born short or with curly hair. But what I choose to do with these traits is entirely up to me. I can buy heels and straighten my hair. And if I was born with the ability to run really fast or shoot acid from my body, that does not mean I have to put on a costume and fight or commit crime. I could live a relatively normal life perhaps teaching track or working construction melting down beams. There are other options. Yet, at present, there are at least twelve active supervillains and ten superheroes who have caused billions of dollars in property damage and claimed the lives of over a two dozen innocent bystanders in their physical meles alone. The real figure of lives lost to any crime committed by a supervillain or collateral damage of a superhero in that past decade is 19,000. Bombings. Giant robot attacks. Poison gasses released in population centers. Compared to Jericho, with only three known heroes and three villains, the casualties are in the hundreds for the same time period. And now the government wants to legitimize these people. Give others more of a reason to put on a spandex costume and solve crimes, through they have no idea how to really do it without corrupting the scene. I’ve been to a few crime scenes where that man in spandex was the victim and more where not a useable piece of evidence was found against the perpetrator. So long as we legitimize these people, give them press coverage, buy their action figures, call them living gods, the cycle of destruction will continue and more innocent people will die. Remember, James Ryder didn’t become Alkaline until Justice miraculously returned. Gearhead might fade into nothing if Olympia didn’t arrive whenever he demanded it. Our National Monument in Independence, which the founders of this country built almost three centuries ago, would still be erect if Baron Bain didn’t want to goad The Royal Triumvirate. There would still be crime, sure, but not on such a massively destructive scale.
I know our heroes do good. I know they save lives. I know most of you feel safer under the protection of Justice. I did once as well. Then reality whacked me in the head when my father was murdered, and I learned he can’t save everyone. It was the police and my community and one little boy who wouldn’t leave my side that saved me. We can all be super. Volunteer. Speak up when you see bullying. Give a homeless person a few dollars. If you see a crime, call the police. If we all pull together, help one another, then there will be no need for superheroes because we’d all be heroes.
Now, excuse me. I have a murder to solve, and I don’t need no damn powers to do it.
Justice by Jennifer Harlow
Series: The Galilee Falls Trilogy #1
Publisher: Devil on the Left Books
Published: May 13th, 2013
320 pages / 100,000 words
It’s hard being a regular police officer in Galilee Falls, a city with the highest concentration of superheroes and villains in the country. It’s even harder watching your best friend, the man you’re secretly in love with your whole life, planning to marry another woman. Detective Joanna Fallon has to contend with both. When the vilest supervillain in the city’s history, Alkaline, the former crime boss who can shoot acid from his wrists, escapes from the maximum security prison, the whole city is gripped by panic.
Leading the pursuit is Captain Harry O’Hara, Joanna’s boss and secret lover, and the city’s champion superhero Justice, who caught the villain last time, much to Joanna’s chagrin. Before her father was murdered in a mugging twenty years earlier, Joanna worshiped the hero, but when he disappeared and failed to save her father, that adoration turned to contempt for all supers.
After Alkaline attacks too close to home and targets Joanna as his next victim, tough-as-nail Joanna has to contend with her increasing fear while struggling to choose between her life-long crush and her new-found love.
At turns vulnerable and fierce, equally mordant and winsome, Joanna is an earnest yet emotionally damaged heroine, who despite the tough breaks of her childhood sees the good in people and vow to protect her beloved city at all costs. An ass-kicking petite firecracker with no superpowers of her own, she charges after supervillains unflinchingly, never losing her wit even when facing her toughest fight. With a coy blend of whimsy and vivid imagination, she delivers both humor and thrills in an action-packed and edgy blend of comic book cool, fantasy-noir, and bitter-sweet romance.
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“‘Can you be so cruel?’
‘Yes, I can be very cruel. I have been taught by masters.’”
-Paramount Picture’s The Heiress (1949)
The wolves are at the gate.
I count thirty police officers on my security monitors, including SWAT, all armed to the gills led by him. I always knew this day would come. It has been almost twenty years in the making, but now it’s here…this must have been how Nero felt as he played that fiddle. My Rome is burning. Soon my freedom will be gone and yet I could still manage a tune. First things first.
Waverly, one of my loyal employees these two years, runs into the study. His fear does not inspire confidence. “Sir, what are we supposed to do? The police and—”
“Stop sniveling for one,” I say, taking a sip of my Scotch. I will miss this.
The bullet I put between his eyes stops the rest of that sentence. I don’t have time to answer a million questions. Company’s coming. I down the rest of my drink as I run the electromagnet over my computer. Cleaner than the day I bought it. Must leave things tidy. I’ve already set the timers in the file cabinets. Thirty more seconds before, like Nero, all that remains of my empire is ashes.
The bombs detonate as I walk down the hall, no louder than gunshots but still rocking the walls sprinkling dust on my paintings. I wonder what will happen to my art. Probably sold for victim reparations. The Degas alone will cover the cost of the library we destroyed today. Smith and Rees are waiting in what is left of my living room. Just looking at it, especially what’s left of Bradley under that bloody sheet, I feel embarrassed for myself. I never lose control like that. I don’t know what I was thinking. I suppose I’m paying the price now.
“Sir, where do you want us?” Smith, a five year veteran of my service, asks.
I turn over the couch with a sigh. “Gentlemen, I want to thank you both for your loyal service through the years. You have both been invaluable. I wish things could have gone a different way. I apologize.” I fire a single shot into Smith’s forehead. Poor Rees is too shocked to even draw on me before he meets the same ending. The loose ends are no more. The rest is in the hands of the fates.
The last of my security doors fall, the sound of steel hitting marble echoing through the room. I cross my leg, wipe the speckles of dust off my costume, and put a smile on my face. The bane of my existence, the man I hate, who has consumed my life for years, super-speeds into my living room as if he owns it. And the press calls me arrogant.
“Alkaline,” he says beneath that dark mask.
“Justice,” I say with a nod. We stare at each other for a few seconds, even now locked in battle. “Grace?”
“She’s safe. You can’t hurt her or anyone else ever again.” He pauses for dramatic effect, or to savor his victory. “Will this be easy or hard?”
For a moment, I consider an attack. It always gives me almost orgasmic pleasure when my fist hits his body and he cries out in pain. One last taste for the road? No, I quell this urge. My body has not completely healed from our fight a few hours ago and quite frankly, I need a break. Being the scourge of the city is exhausting. “You may take me to jail now.”
As I’m led out past the frightened police and gawking bystanders, I keep that smile on my face. Not because I’m arrogant, not to save face, because…I may have lost this battle, but the war has just begun.
Then Rome will truly burn.
Jennifer is giving away 10 copies of Justice in any format.
Giveaway is sponsored by author/tour host and Urban Girl Reader is not responsible for winner selection/contact/prize eligibility/prize receipt.
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