Welcome to


DISCLAIMER: This content has been provided to SHANNON MUIR’S THE PULP AND MYSTERY SHELF by Pump Up Your Book Tours. No compensation was received. This information required by the Federal Trade Commission.

SWEET JUSTICE by Ken Malovos, Legal Thriller, 461 pp., $12.95 (paperback) $3.99 (Kindle)

Author: Ken Malovos
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 461
Genre: Legal Mystery
Judge Robert Tilson is a retired judge now working exclusively as a
private mediator and arbitrator. One night he is murdered. The police
focus on criminal defendants who appeared before him and past clients.
They also are interested in litigants who have appeared before him when
he was serving as an arbitrator. But progress is slow and the judge’s
daughter, Kathy Lamb, decides to investigate on her own. She makes
friends with David Powell, who is quite upset with Judge Tilson for an
intended arbitration award that favors his siblings in the division of
their parents’ estate. David is acquitted through the efforts of Mike
Zorich, trial lawyer. But Kathy finds out that her father had been
carrying on an affair with his court clerk for many years and she
suspects the clerk’s husband is the one who killed Judge Tilson. She is
right.Meanwhile, Judge Jim Hansen is still dealing with the ordeal of being
accused, arrested and charged with murder in the first degree of Alicia
Obregon, a woman who had been blackmailing him over an incident in
Amboise, France, 30 years ago, when he was accused of raping a fellow
student. The jury could not make up their mind and eventually the
prosecution decides not to retry him but to dismiss the charges. The
other judges in the courthouse shun him. He seeks help with a counselor.
He has not been truthful at his trial or with his wife. Further, he
threw a case before he became a judge, when he was a deputy district
attorney because of the fear of blackmail from Alicia Obregon. Anthony
Obregon, Alicia’s husband is then tried for her murder but he is
acquitted. It turns out that the husband of the woman who made the
charge of rape against Judge Hansen 30 years ago is responsible for
Alicia’s murder.

Mike Zorich is in the center of the effort to find the real
killers,who are eventually arrested, tried and convicted. Anthony
Obregon is the connection between the two cases as he was accused of
killing his own wife and he was asked to kill Judge Tilson, but refused
to do so. His information and the efforts of Kathy Lamb and Mike Zorich
lead to the righteous killers.


Link to book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Justice-Mike-Zorich-Malovos/dp/1732917302/ref=sr_1_26?ie=UTF8&qid=1542662906&sr=8-26&keywords=sweet+justice.
Link to book on B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sweet-justice-ken-malovos/1129829794?ean=2940161748916.

October, 2014
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” she said, as she crossed herself.
She hadn’t been to church in ages, but some things you never forget, like the
nuns’ teachings and the look of violent death. The door swung inward to the
office, the same office she had cleaned five nights a week for the past four
years. As soon as she turned the lights on, she saw the man on the floor, lying
face down. His face was turned sideways and it rested on a glistening dark
stain on the carpet. It was the judge. His arms were splayed over his head.
Isabel put her hand to her mouth and looked around. Her heart was beating very
fast. Who could have done this? Is the killer still here?
It was quiet. She listened very intently but didn’t hear a
thing. Was she having a heart attack? She sat down on a chair and tried not to
look at the body but she couldn’t help herself. It was the judge. She was
certain. Then she knelt and felt for a pulse on his neck. Maybe she felt
something, she wasn’t sure. Such a nice man. She made a sign of the cross and
said a prayer.
It was a Tuesday evening in early October and Isabel Romero
was working her usual shift on the second floor of the two-story office
building on University Avenue
in Sacramento. Most of the offices
were law or accounting firms, although there was the occasional advertising or
consulting firm, plus a couple of psychologists. They were all the same as far
as she was concerned. There were waste baskets to empty, carpets to be vacuumed
and desktops to be dusted.
Isabel was about mid-forties, a bit on the heavy side,
married with two children. She wore khaki slacks and a blue uniform shirt with
the name “C&M Janitorial” on the upper left front. Her black hair was held
together with a silver clip on each side. She had pushed her cart filled with
cleaning supplies and inserted her key into the lock. The sign on the wall
outside of the door read “Judge Robert L. Tilson (ret.), Arbitrator and
Mediator.” She had seen him often when he worked late. Nice man. She always
called him “Judge.” He would always smile and ask how she was doing. He worked
in an office in the rear of the suite.
After a minute or two, she stood up and left the office. She
walked down the corridor looking up and down for her fellow night janitors.
Could the killer still be here? She was very quiet as she walked. But she
didn’t see any of her co-workers. Where were they?
“Help, help,” she yelled. “Delores. Johnny. Help.”
Nobody responded. It was very quiet. Then she heard the door
to the women’s restroom open behind her. Isabel turned in that direction and
saw Delores, who was taller than Isabel and a bit younger.
“There is a man in the office,” Isabel said. “It’s the
judge. I think he’s dead. Come with me. Quick.”
Delores walked quickly in her direction. Johnny heard them
as he left his assigned office on the other end of the floor. He yelled at them
from a good thirty yards away.
“What’s up? What’s happening?”
“I don’t know. But I think the judge is dead,” Isabel said.
Johnny was not a big man but he was fast. Thin, with dark
hair, and twenty-eight years of age, he ran down the hall. He wore the same
blue uniform shirt and jeans. Isabel and Delores were ahead of him. They
converged on the office and Isabel slowly opened the door. She held her hand to
her head, mumbling something indistinct. Johnny walked around the body, looking
for signs of life. He got down on his knees and put his ear close to the man’s
mouth, careful not to touch the liquid on the carpet. Then he put his fingers
on the man’s neck.
“I think he’s dead, I’m not feeling anything.”
The man on the floor was an older man, with rumpled white
hair, dressed in a white long-sleeved shirt with a tie, sleeves rolled up and
no jacket. The adjoining conference rooms and office were dark. His feet were
closer to the door and his head was next to a chair on the other end of the
reception area.
“It’s the judge,” Isabel said. “I’ve talked to him before.
This is his office.”
Delores stepped into the suite. She had been looking down
the hallway to see if anyone else was present. She saw nothing. Then she looked
back at Johnny and the grisly scene.
“Shouldn’t we give him CPR, or something?”
“It won’t make any difference,” Johnny said. “He’s dead. No
question about it. See, no pulse.”
He held his fingers to the man’s neck again. Delores and
Isabel did not move.
“My heart is racing,” Isabel said. “Maybe I’m having a heart
attack. I’m not feeling good.”
“Sit down,” Johnny said. “Take some deep breaths.”
“I’ll call the police,” Delores said.
“Yes,” Isabel said. “Call the police.” She was shaking.
Delores looked around the office for a phone.
“I don’t think we should touch anything here,” Johnny said.
”The police may look for fingerprints or evidence or something.”
Delores went to the next office down the hall, unlocked the
door and dialed 911. She explained who she was and what she had seen.
“Are you in any danger, ma’am?”
“I don’t think so. I don’t know. We just got to the office.”
“Okay, stay put. Don’t go anywhere. If you can lock yourself
in a room, that would be best. What is your address?”
Delores gave the address and the suite number where the body
was found.
“The police are on their way, ma’am. Meanwhile, don’t touch
anything and just sit tight. The police will find you. Whoever did this might
still be in the building.”
“Yes, we will just stay here.”
Delores hung up and walked back to the judge’s office. She
could feel the wetness under her arms. She closed and locked the door behind
her and put her hands to her hair.
“They said the police are on the way. We should just stay
Isabel was sitting on a chair and crying softly. She
clutched a couple of tissues and dabbed her eyes.
“Are you feeling better, Isabel?”
“I can’t believe it’s him,” Isabel said. “He was such a nice
man. I would always tell him that I would just take a few minutes but he would
tell me to take my time. One time he gave me a box of See’s Candies and told me
to share them with you. Remember that?”
“I do,” Delores said. “They were nuts and chews.”
“That must have been before I started here,” Johnny said.
Delores stood next to Isabel and put her arm around Isabel’s
shoulders as she looked around the suite, which consisted of a large office
with a desk and three conference rooms, one larger than the other two. The body
was lying in the nicely-decorated reception area which contained four chairs
and a desk. Color photographs of several people hung on the walls as well as
various certificates. The same man was in all of the photographs, probably the
judge, she thought. He was always smiling and holding some award. A large
certificate said “Judge of the Year,” and another said “Twenty Years of
Judicial Service.” A statue of a blindfolded woman dressed in a long flowing
robe and holding the scales of justice rested comfortably on a brown table. The
sign on the bottom said “Lady Justice.” There was a small lamp on another table
which also had magazines on it. Delores was careful not to disturb anything.
Johnny sat down in a nearby chair, just staring at the man.
“I can’t believe this,” Delores said. “I’ve never seen a
dead body before.”
“Me neither,” Johnny said.
Isabel didn’t say a thing. She was staring at the wall and
was still crying as she sat in another chair.
“I think you are going to be okay, Isabel,” Delores said.
“You probably had a panic attack. You look a lot better now then you did a few
minutes ago. I can see you are getting your color back.”
“You do look better,” Johnny said. “Is your heart still
“It’s not as bad,” Isabel said. “I’m feeling a little bit
It took the police about fifteen minutes to get there. It
felt longer to the three janitors. They mostly spent the time in silence, but
Delores and Johnny each ventured out, taking turns looking down the hallway
from the doorway of the office. Johnny spotted them first. The officers came
down the hallway with guns drawn. He waived.
“Here, here,” he yelled. “Down here.”
The officers entered the suite and looked around. One of
them put his gun in his holster and checked the body, looking for a pulse. In a
few seconds he looked at his partner and shook his head. He got up from the
floor and went into each room of the office. The other one asked the three to
come into the corridor with him.
“You didn’t see or hear anyone, anything out of the
“No, sir,” Delores said. The others shook their heads.
“Do you know this man?”
“Yes,” Isabel said. “He’s the judge. This is his office.”
She nodded in the direction of the sign with Judge Tilson’s
name on the wall next to the door.
“Can you open up these other offices?”
“Sure, we have a master key that works on all of the
offices,” Johnny said.
“Good, go into that office over there, lock the door and
wait for us to come back. We are going to search the building for suspects. Is
there anyone else in any of these offices that you know of?”
“No,” Johnny said. “All my offices were empty.”
Delores and Isabel shook their heads.
“Okay, so, we shouldn’t expect to find anyone?”
“Right,” Johnny said. “But we haven’t cleaned all of the
rooms yet, so there still could be someone in one of the offices, working
“Okay, thanks. Now just stay put.”
This particular building was one of about six or seven in
the business part of University Avenue.
They were all two-story wooden structures and were separated by parking lots,
green grass and the occasional water pond. The other part of the tree-line
street hugged the American River
and mostly contained apartment houses for the students who attended California
State University
at Sacramento, usually referred to
as “Sac State.”
They didn’t wait long. “All clear,” one of the officers
“All clear on this end too.”
One of the officers knocked on the door to the office, where
the three janitors had stayed, and escorted them to the first floor. They sat
down and huddled together on the lone couch in the tiled lobby. The other
officer said they did not find any suspects or any weapons. He walked toward
the three who were looking up at the officers.
“You sure that none of you have seen anything out of the
ordinary tonight? Anyone acting unusual?”
“Not me,” Johnny said. The others shook their heads.
“Let me ask you this. Did you touch anything inside the
suite? We are going to dust for fingerprints and we just need to know.”
“We were pretty careful,” Delores said. “Isabel opened the
door to go in and clean and she yelled for us. Johnny checked his body. I
called you from another office. We were pretty much in the same place when you
got there. We did sit in the chairs.”
“Yeah, I sat in a chair,” Johnny said. “But I didn’t touch
anything else.”
Each of them gave their separate statements, but there
really wasn’t much to say. By then another patrol car had arrived with two more
officers. It wasn’t long before the newspaper and television reporters and a
free-lance photographer arrived. More officers pulled their marked vehicles
with flashing red lights into the area directly in front of the building and
next to a large parking lot. The scene was cordoned off.
The janitorial service supervisor arrived and he spoke to a
couple of other janitors from a nearby building before he approached the
building that was illuminated by all of the flashing police lights. He was
about fifty, with dark hair and a mustache and black-framed glasses. He was
wearing an untucked shirt with the janitorial service name and a blue
He walked directly towards the two officers who were
standing nearby. He introduced himself and gave each of them his card. “You may
want to talk to the janitors from the other building as well. They are standing
over by those cars.” He nodded in their direction. “They said they saw someone
outside getting into a pickup and leaving. They were out taking a break.”
One of the officers immediately headed in the direction of
the three janitors from the other building. The three were standing in front of
the main door. One was smoking and the other two were staring at the officers.
They all wore the same uniform shirts.
The supervisor then spoke to the three janitors who were now
sitting on the short brick wall along the entrance way outside of the building.
There was a slight chill in the air.
“I know this is very disturbing to each of you,” the
supervisor said. “Please cooperate completely with law enforcement. Answer all
of their questions.”
“Right,” Isabel said. “We already gave our statements.”
“When you are through with the officers, you can go home. I
will put away all of your cleaning stuff and will be in touch with you for tomorrow.
And, thank you for your efforts tonight. You were all exemplary and I
appreciate it.I know this was not easy
for you.”
After a short while, the officers told Isabel, Delores and
Johnny that they were free to go home.
That evening at about nine-fifty, Kathy Lamb was watching
the end of the latest edition of “CSI” when a banner on the bottom of her
screen flashed the breaking news in red, “Local Judge Killed. Stay Tuned For
News At Ten.” She perked up at the word “judge” because her father was a judge,
or a retired judge, to be more accurate. So, instead of turning off the
television at ten, she stayed tuned. But first she grabbed a glass of water
from the kitchen in her one-bedroom apartment in mid-town. Then she curled up
on the sofa and waited for the news to begin. An older man and a younger woman
soon appeared on her television screen. The male broadcaster spoke first.
“We have breaking news this hour. We have just learned that
a local judge was murdered in his office on University
Avenue this evening. The police have not yet
released his name, pending notification of next of kin. We have very few
details, but what we do know is that the janitorial staff that serves the
office building of the deceased discovered his body during their regular
cleaning rounds this evening. We will pass on more information as soon as we
are informed. In other news…”
Kathy looked at the television, stunned. Her father had an
office on University Avenue.
It was a popular street for a lot of lawyers and her dad had obtained an office
there eight years ago when he retired from the Superior Court after twenty
years. It was late and she didn’t know whether to call her parents and confirm
that her father was alive and well. The call itself could scare them as they often
went to bed earlier than ten. But then she thought she wouldn’t be getting any
sleep herself out of worry. She sipped her water and after five or ten minutes
of indecision, she decided to call.
“Hello dear.”
Her mother answered. Kathy knew her mother had caller
“Hi Mom, just checking in. Is Dad home?”
“No, I’ve been waiting for him. But that’s not unusual. He
called around six-thirty to say he was going to be late, said he wanted to work
on an arbitration award that is due tomorrow.”
“Oh. When you talked to him, he was at his office, right?”
“Mom, I don’t know but I just saw something on television.
It’s about a man who was hurt in his office tonight on University
Avenue. I am wondering if it could be Dad.”
“Why would you say that, dear? There are lots of people on University
Avenue. Besides I’m sure he just got caught up in
his case and forgot to call. He does forget things, every now and then.”
“Okay. Let me check it out and I will call you back.”
“Just a minute, Kathy. Someone just rang my doorbell. Hang
on. I will look through the window to see who it is at this hour.”
Kathy could tell that her mother put the phone down. She
didn’t hear a thing. A few seconds passed.
“Oh, Kathy. There is a man and a woman at the front door.
The woman is in a uniform. I don’t like the looks of this.”
“Okay, Mom, don’t hang up. Take the phone with you and go to
the front door and ask who it is. Can you do that? I will be on the other end
the whole time.”
“Yes, I can do that.”
“And I am going to call 911 on my other phone and alert them
that there is someone outside of your home.”
Antoinette Tilson walked to the front door with the phone in
her hand. She put on the front porch light and looked through the eyehole. She
was dressed in her nightgown and a pink robe.
“Who is it?”
“Ma’am, I am from the Sacramento Police Department on
official business,” the female officer said. “We have something we need to
discuss with you. We are very sorry for the late hour, but this cannot wait.
Here is my badge. There are two of us here.”
Antoinette could see a badge of sorts through the eyehole of
her door. The man, standing behind her, was dressed in a dark suit, white shirt
and tie. The woman was wearing the familiar-looking blue uniform of the
Sacramento Police Department.
“Ma’am, we don’t mean to alarm you but we do have to discuss
this matter with you,” the officer said again.
“Just a minute.”
Antoinette turned away from the door and spoke into her
“I don’t like this, Kathy. Maybe it’s about your father.
They look like they are here on official business.”
“I am still on the line with the operator on the 911 call
and they are checking on things. But if they have identification, it’s probably
okay to open the door.”
She turned back to the still-closed front door.
“All right. I will tell you that I have my daughter on the
phone and she is on the phone with the police right now.”
“That’s fine, ma’am. We understand.”
Antoinette opened the front door of her house just an inch
or two. The two individuals were standing back from the door and just waited
for her. She opened the door a little more and looked out. The two did not
move. They had serious expressions on their faces. She could see the
familiar-looking black and white patrol car with a blue shield parked on the
street directly behind them.
“We are very sorry to be bothering you, ma’am, at this late
hour,” the officer said. “We understand your concern. But we do need to talk
with you.”
“Okay. You may come in.”
She opened the door fully and the two entered, slowly.
“Ma’am, you are Mrs. Robert Tilson, is that correct?”
“Yes, that is right. How did you know that?”
“Ma’am, it would be best if we could sit down for a moment,”
the officer said. “Would that be okay?”
“Oh no. It’s Bob, isn’t it? Is he okay?”
Antoinette pulled the robe closer to her body and her eyes
misted. The man in the dark suit sat down first on the sofa and the female
officer sat next to him. Antoinette kept the phone in her hand and walked over
to a chair but remained standing.
“Kathy, can you hear me.”
“Yes, Mom, I can hear you.”
“Ma’am, I am Deputy Coroner Jack Livingston,” the man said.
“This is Officer Fran Stevens. I’m afraid we have some bad news. It’s about
your husband.”
He paused for a moment and continued to look at Mrs. Tilson.
“I think it would be best if you sat down.” She did.
“Ma’am, your husband has died. I am so sorry to be telling
you this.”
“Yes ma’am. Actually he was killed.”
“Yes ma’am. He was killed this evening in his office.”
“Oh no. That can’t be. That just can’t be. I spoke to him
earlier this evening. He was at his office and was going to work late.”
Antoinette leaned her head on the side of the chair and
wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her robe.
“Yes ma’am. I afraid that is the fact. He was found in his
office. We verified that it was Judge Tilson by the identification in his
wallet that we found on him, as well as the other identifying evidence in his
office. In addition, one of the officers who was at the scene, made a positive
identification. I think he knew your husband from some prior cases.”
Antoinette buried her head in the robe, her elbows on her
thighs. Her crying starting slowly and then she was gasping for air. The female
police officer came over to her and put her arm around Antoinette’s shoulder.
“We’ve been married for so long. I just can’t believe this.
He was a good man. Do you know that?”
She wasn’t speaking to anybody in particular but was crying
loudly while she spoke. Finally, all three could hear a woman’s voice on the other
end of the phone. It was yelling.
“Mom, can you hear me? Are they saying Dad has been killed?”
Antoinette reached for the phone which had fallen on the
floor. She put it to her ear.
“Yes dear, they say your father is dead.”
“No. No.”
The deputy coroner spoke up.
“Ma’am, it might be helpful if we spoke with your daughter.”
Antoinette gave the phone to him.
“Ma’am, this is Deputy Coroner Jack Livingston, from the
Sacramento County Coroner’s Office. I am here with your mother and with Officer
Fran Stevens, from the Sacramento Police Department. I am very sorry to be
telling you this, but we have just informed your mother that her husband was
killed this evening. I am very sorry, ma’am, for you and your mother. But, if
it is possible for you to come and be with your mother right now, that would be
very good. I have no idea where you live, but it would be helpful for you to
come right away.”
“My father was killed? He’s the one on television?”
“Yes ma’am. I am so sorry.”
“I don’t live that far away. I will come over right now. Can
you stay there for a few minutes until I get there?”
“Yes, we will do that.”
“Good. Could you please put my mother back on the phone?”
“Yes, certainly,” the deputy coroner said. Kathy could hear
some light rustling noise.
“Mom, I am coming right over. Just stay with the officers.
It shouldn’t take me more than ten minutes.”
Antoinette didn’t say a word, as she dropped the phone into
her lap.
“Maybe, I could get you a glass of water, ma’am?”
Antoinette didn’t respond. She just sat in her chair, her
head to one side, and cried. Her robe absorbed her tears.
The deputy coroner looked around and went off in search of
the kitchen and a glass of water. He returned in a couple of minutes and handed
the glass to Antoinette. She waived him away.


Interview with the Author

What initially got you interested in writing?

I have always enjoyed writing. I did much better in writing examinations than multiple choice or true/false questions in high school and college. I am a lawyer and I write a lot for a living.


What genres do you write in?

I only write in the legal suspense/mystery genre.


What drew you to writing these specific genres?

I am a lawyer and have experience in both the criminal and civil law areas, so the legal genre came easily to me.


How did you break into the field?

I just started writing. It took me five years to write my first novel, Contempt of Court. After that the writing came easier and the novels came out quicker.


What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?

I hope they are happy and take away the joy of reading a good plot, a page turner. Maybe they have learned something about the legal profession or about human nature, that they did not know before.


What do you find most rewarding about writing?

The joy of sitting back and seeing the written word on paper. There is nothing as satisfying has a good day of writing. Time seems to fly by when I am in the writing “groove.”


What do you find most challenging about writing?

Finding the time to write in consecutive days. I work as an arbitrator and mediator, so my schedule does not always allow me to write on consecutive days. I tend to not remember some details, when I have been away from my manuscript for a long time. This means a lot of extra editing.


What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?

Just write. There is no substitute for writing. You don’t have to have a plan or a complete outline. In fact you don’t need an outline at all. Just write about something, anything, that interests you. Then ask for honest feedback from people you trust. Try to improve. A short story is a good place to start.


What type of books do you enjoy reading?

Mostly legal suspense and thrillers, of course. I am inspired by several authors in this genre and I love the subject matter.


Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?

Not much. As I mentioned above, I work as a mediator and arbitrator. So I spend a great deal of time trying to resolve cases before they go to court. In my earlier legal life, I was a trial lawyer, so it is rewarding to use my experience to help others resolve disputes short of trial.


What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?

I have two websites, malovoslaw.com and kenmalovos.com that show my books. I talk about writing at both sites. Of course, any reader can always reach me by email. I love responding to readers.


Author Bio

Ken Malovos has been practicing law in Sacramento for over forty
years. He spent twelve years with the Public Defender’s Office and
twenty-five years as a business litigator. He now serves full-time as a
mediator and arbitrator. He has written three previous Mike Zorich
novels and has been recognized by Chanticleer Book Reviews as a First
Prize Category Winner in the legal genre of the Mystery and Mayhem
competition and as a finalist in the Thriller and Suspense competition.You can visit Ken’s website at https://kenmalovos.com/.




Leave A Comment

Recommended Posts


Shannon Muir is pleased that Eastern Washington University, home of KEWU-FM – the jazz station she worked at during her college undergrad years that influenced her writing CHARLES BOECKMAN PRESENTS DOC AND SALLY IN ‘THE DEATH OF BUDDY TURNER’ – will not […]