Agent for Justice
Agent for Justice brilliantly dramatizes the fascinating life of Bradford Wallace and his dark descent from idealist to avenger. He begins his career in education as a dedicated and sensitive teacher in Hampton Village, Connecticut during the early sixties. While war, assassinations, and personal strife occur, Brad’s idealism begins to unravel into a state of psychological unrest. He declares himself the individual who must revenge the injustices in the world and his life.
During Brad’s early teaching years, he forms a camaraderie with six other teachers, referring to themselves as “the magnificent seven.” He marries Josie, one of the seven, who experiences the first of many injustices that turns Brad to his “black periods.” She goes into premature labor, delivering a stillborn infant. After they bury the infant, Brad frequently visits the grave of their son to discuss his revenge. During these black periods, Brad continues to maintain a successful career, and even leaves his close knit group to assume an administrative position with the Hartford City School District. Brad’s life is marked by one disillusioning event after another that drain his early idealism and force him to begin a descent into frightening mental instability.
Detective Parker Havenot enters the scene after an unusual accident that nearly kills the doctor who Brad blamed for his “son’s” premature birth. As the detective becomes more involved, he realizes the complexity of Bradford Wallace. When Brad is forced into early retirement after refusing to take part in the political games of his superintendent, he also loses his marriage. Brad’s ultimate revenge climaxes on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire where he seeks “final” justice for the inequities he has endured.
Commentary on Agent for Justice
From its captivating opening chapter to its satisfying conclusion, Duke Southard’s latest novel does not disappoint. This novel will appeal to those readers who enjoy suspense as well as those who are looking for realism and drama with just the right touch of romance. Southard, a former educator, takes us into the world of high school teachers but add a psychological twist that leads to an unexpected powerhouse ending. This story is told with a smooth prose style that leads us into a compelling intrigue of human nature and complex relationships. Duke Southard remains a teacher even in his writing, but this time he is a teacher of life.
Instructor, Creative Writing and English
Agent for Justice truly portrays the heroic work that great teachers do while effectively demonstrating how an unmitigated idealism leads one man into a spiraling descent of mental deterioration and madness. The story plays like a classic tragedy, with a well-drawn, sympathetic character fighting his obsession toward righting injustices on his own terms.
Author and Library Director
Southard’s description of Bradford Wallace’s decline (Agent for Justice) creates a fascinating account of human psychology.
Villanova Magazine, Winter, 2004