Positive Portrayals?

Article excerpt

Mystery master John Morgan Wilson sends his HIV-positive detective after a ring of gay pederasts

Benjamin Justice is HIV-positive, but that's almost the least of his problems. He tested positive a year ago but has yet to seek treatment. His lover, Jacques, has been dead for more than a decade; his journalism career--destroyed when it was discovered he'd invented details in a Pulitzer Prizewinning article--is still in ruins; and he's hitting the bottle again. Then, on the day Charlotte Preston hires him to ghostwrite a biography of her late movie-star father, she's found dead.

In his fourth mystery novel, The Limits of Justice, author John Morgan Wilson seems to have painted his reluctant detective into an especially grim corner.

Sitting in his own West Hollywood, Calif., home, Wilson admits he's been tough on his hero. "A kid came up to me at one of my readings," he recalls, "and said, `Is Justice ever going to get a break?'" When he embarked on the books--his first, 1996's Simple Justice, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award; the third, Justice at Risk, earned a Lambda Literary Award--Wilson explains, "I envisioned them to be lighter, fast-paced, fun. I figured I'd have to mention AIDS, but I didn't want to dwell on it. But as I found the voice of the character, it just got darker and darker. …