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When a covert operation during the Vietnam War ends in tragedy, one of its members resolves to kill the man who betrayed it to the enemy. Now, fifteen years later, he’ll finally get his chance.

In 1987, Chicago police detective Marcelle DeSantis and her partner, Bernie Bernardelli, are working a series of heroin-related murders, and their job just got more complicated. The man who sabotaged the Vietnam operation, Robert Thornton, is now the chief enforcer for a Southeast Asian heroin cartel, and after fifteen years overseas, he’s arrived in Chicago to eliminate the reigning cartel and seize control of the city’s heroin trade.

Racing to stop a drug war, Marcelle and Bernie don’t realize they’re about to be caught in a deadly crossfire: another man is circling in the wings, one of Thornton’s soldiers from Vietnam, who’s preparing to exact his long-sought revenge against his former mentor. He’s the last person anyone would ever suspect, and when he finally makes his move, the paths of these four people will explosively converge.

“A sharply defined, engrossing cast elevates this crime caper.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“A stunning debut, David Rabin’s IN DANGER OF JUDGMENT is an engrossing page-turner. . . . an intricately-plotted crime thriller that’s cinematic and wildly compelling. . . .”
— IndieReader (IR Approved, 5 Stars)

David Rabin recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller, IN DANGER OF JUDGMENT.

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
Setting. Chicago was an easy choice. It’s diverse, interesting, and has every type of place I might need for a scene, and having grown up there, I was intimately familiar with many such places.

David Rabin

What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
The biggest challenge was that I’d created a story with several subject matters on which I had no expertise, which required massive amounts of research. Addressing that challenge led to opportunities to learn first-hand from experts: several Chicago police detectives; a Cook County, Illinois, prosecutor; a neuropsychologist; and retired military personnel.

Was there anything new you discovered or that surprised you as you wrote this book?
I was surprised I finished writing it. I began mapping it in my head in 1994, at a time when I was too busy to put it on paper. Once I retired and had the time, the prospect of writing it seemed as daunting as scaling Mt. Everest. I had never studied creative writing and hadn’t written fiction since homework assignments in elementary school. It was undoubtedly the most difficult thing I’ve ever done and, when I look back on the process, I’m happily amazed I made it all the way through.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
Much of the plot revolves around heroin production and smuggling originating in the “Golden Triangle” of Burma, Thailand, and Laos. The history of it is fascinating and was a perfect context for the story I wanted to create.

What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
Too many to name, so I’ll give the first three that come to mind: Stephen Hunter, Lee Child, and Michael Connelly. They have distinct styles, all of them effective, and I drew from each one in constructing my own style.


David Rabin was born in Chicago and raised in its Lakeview neighborhood. He later moved to Atlanta, where he worked as a trial lawyer for 33 years. Now retired, he writes crime fiction, runs a competitive shooting program, and competes in rifle sports, including the discipline of Highpower Rifle, in which he holds two High Master classifications. His debut novel, IN DANGER OF JUDGMENT, was the Runner-Up in the Thriller Category of the 2022 Maxy Awards.

To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.