Perilous Judgment: A Real Justice Thriller (#1)

“An extremely promising and muscular debut.”

– Kirkus Reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Ricci handles the admittedly front-loaded momentum of his narrative with the skill of a practiced professional; he has the patience and sound ear to create his characters—particularly Lamport—as much from dialogue and quick, telegraphic thoughts as from overt scene-setting. The author’s overlay of Christian elements onto the enormously readable story is subtly and believably done…Ricci delivers that rare bird, an action novel that should appeal equally to Christian and non-Christian readers. This is an extremely promising and muscular debut. A fast-paced and thought-provoking legal thriller built around the hot-button issue of immigration.

– Kirkus Reviews

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“A new thriller writer joins the throng of Grisham, Patterson, Crichton, and Clancy. Ricci creates an intricate story that begs for an answer and leaves the reader breathless. What would you do if everything you held dear was at stake?”

– DiAnn Mills, Christy Award Winning Author of Pursuit of Justice

“A big story that pulls no punches and keeps you in its grasp until the final page. A masterful debut thriller.” 

— Robert Dugoni, #1 Amazon and New York Times Bestselling Author of My Sister’s Grave

What separates Christian fiction from secular fiction is often hard to ignore. In many cases, there’s an overload of wholesomeness and goodie-two-shoes “here’s my favorite Scripture” writing. Dennis Ricci avoids that like the plague, but hews to the guidelines of not using excessive violence, sexual imagery, or foul language.

Because of that, Perilous Judgment is a safe read for anyone with an aversion to rough language and sex. Not that there isn’t plenty of action, violence, and drama in the book, but it’s done for a purpose and doesn’t break the rules. In other words, it’s a good yarn without the offensive items that a lot of secular authors would have gratuitously thrown in. No salacious bits!

Lots of good sub-plot devices, clever ruses, and some image painting that leave you feeling the dust of Mexico on your brow as you look for a cool drink and some frijoles. I think about frijoles often, and that makes this a good thing. Lunch Tuesday was frijoles. So if you can put me in mind of a thing that strongly you are doing it right.

One of the main focuses in the book is the immigration issue. Dennis rightly points out the inequities in the current situation in his story, and that was the only thing that gave me a single moment’s pause. I’m not sure if that’s because of my personal convictions on the issue, or the conundrums the characters faced. I’ll leave that for the reader to decide.

— Joseph Courtemanche, author of Assault on Saint Agnes

“The reason this book is going to be a New York Times bestseller is not because it is an award-winning novel, which it is, but because the talent of Dennis Ricci places you in the middle of the action without allowing the (unwanted) luxury of determining the conclusion prior to the final scene. If you want to know the ending from the start, this is not the book for you. 

This novel is not for those who already know what will happen in the next scene, or those who desire to know will happen in the next scene. Instead, Dennis will keep you guessing until you can guess no more.

Perilous Judgment is a book for beginners to teach them what to expect from a high-end thriller. It is also a book for those who want a genre mixture that requires guesswork, expectation, and offers surprise. In addition, Perilous Judgment is for those who are true, bone fide thrill-seekers requiring the very most from a storyline that can be offered.

Dennis Ricci has been personally tutored by New York Times bestsellers, Steven James and Robert Dugoni, and it shows throughout his work.

The above notwithstanding, this is not a book for amateurs or for the faint of heart, but it is safe for those who desire an extremely good story without the unnecessary and explicit violence and sexual imagery that has needlessly overtaken so many novels of our time.

I highly recommend this book, and have actively done so since reading it. I purchased an advance copy on my own because I believe in this author and admire his work.”

— Don Brobst, author of The Ghost of Africa

“This book had more twists and turns than Lombard Street in San Francisco. Each chapter ending made me want to keep reading. Full of surprises. The ending didn’t disappoint. I would definitely read Ricci’s next book. As a fan of John Grisham, I love a good legal-type thriller. Well done for a break-out writer.”

— Jane Daly, author of Because of Grace and The Caregiving Season

Top Reader Reviews

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“Dennis is a talented writer and knows how to capture his readers immediately. Once you begin reading this you are spellbound and can’t wait to turn each page. It is nice to read a suspenseful book where the author does not reduce himself to adding offensive language and graphic scenes. I can actually recommend this book to young adults. I read many mysteries and thrillers and this book is among the great ones. I eagerly await his next book.”

– Judy C. (on

“I would recommend this book to anyone. The whole story was written so well. I like that the author added bible verses and the characters had their faith in God. A great clean book!”

– Aurora (on

“Creative political thriller, loved the deep voice of the narrator. Two violent scenes and sexual tension/romantic thread but a great clean read for adults! Author did obvious research to give us a behind the scenes peek of the justice system. Characters wrestle with issues and questions (like when is it ok to break the law) both common to all people and those our society struggles to answer; deep & creative!”

– C.B. (on

“Perilous Judgment keeps you on the edge of your seat! I loved the characters and the suspenseful story. It was also very thought provoking, I couldn’t put the book down.”

– Deb (on

“Reading this book points out that today’s world needs very special people. Always look for these people and follow them with your aid.”

– Bumper Bob (on

“A lot of suspense that keeps you thinking. Really exciting near the end. You will not want to put it down until you finish.”

– Jim B. (on

“This book was a surprisingly good! I didn’t know the author and it was exciting from the first. Well written.”

– B. Donaher (on

“I decided to rate this justice thriller superbly because of the interlocking ways the characters displayed towards the main theme. It is also very detailed that makes the reader stand up and pay attention to all the characters in the justice thriller because each character has a part in the story!!!! I would recommend this book to anyone !!!!!!!!”

– Carl D. (on

“Well crafted and kept me involved and guessing what next? Kept me involved every minute. Good character development. I will watch for the next book.”

– Kindle Customer (on

“It will grab you and hold you – a very fast-paced and suspenseful tale. The subject matter is topical and relevant, with characters that are roundly developed. Watch for more from Ricci, I’m confident this first-time author will be delivering more great reading in the future.”

–CdC (on

“The start of a VERY promising career. Ricci’s ‘Perilous Judgement’ takes us along a journey fraught with danger on many levels beyond the physical. With twists and turns that would tame a roller coaster, we are taken to a conclusion that satisfies the mind and the spirit. Congrats to Dennis Ricci. Looking forward to #2.”

–Allan L. (on

“Very interesting story. Characters were complex. Learned a whole lot about the California judicial system. A very refreshing read.”

– Robert C. (on

“Read through this in one day….all four hundred plus pages because I could not put it down! It would make a great thriller, action packed movie. Cannot believe this is Dennis’ first book, as he is a wordsmith in action. Will be encouraging my friends to read this one! Only regret is there not another book of his to read!”

— Erin K. (on

Perilous Judgment is a picture of a man relentless in his drive to do the right thing. A US District Judge with high ideals, swallowed up in a corrupt system and facing impossible circumstances, Edward Lamport fights for true justice through a dark cloud of opposition. In the face of hopelessness, his love for his family drives him far beyond his own strength.  

In this political thriller, Mr. Ricci puts a face, and a heart, to the immigration debate. One can no longer look past the human element and see only facts and figures. We are forced to look into the eyes of desperate people. 

The love story in this novel is not made of mush and dreams. It’s real life: pain, loss, hurts, fears, trust, hope, questions, transparency, longings, desires, and faith. I found the characters to be very relatable in their emotions and interactions. 

I was impressed by the vast amount of knowledge Mr. Ricci had gleaned in order to create this realistic and complex story line. From the judicial process, to money laundering, to immigration, to politics, to special ops., no detail is brushed over. The action is fast paced, especially as the story progresses. And because of the skillful word-crafting, I often found myself re-reading a line simply for enjoyment.

With so many characters and events, you might want to keep a note pad handy to track who’s who. After all, you never know who might end up being a bad guy. 

— Cindy W. (on

“For once an author tells the story without simplistic outcomes. Ricci puts you in the mind and heart of the characters as they face choices. Some are made with the best intentions but real life outcomes cone into play. The story is fast paced and reads like a true story. A must read for those who want a book they can’t put down.”

— Patty P. (on

“I was sent a preview of this book 3 months ago and I purposely waited for the whole book. Well worth the wait. I read a lot of suspenseful thrillers and this is on a par with any of the authors I regularly read – Jeffery Deaver, Michael Connelly, Brett Battles, Joseph Finder. This work does not come across as a first novel. It is polished, well-researched, detailed and fast-paced with an underlying component of faith that drives the actions of the well-developed characters. I can’t wait for Dennis Ricci’s next book!”

— Marty L. (on

“At the end I could not put this book down! Dennis Ricci did a fabulous job (and this coming from a YA urban fantasy enthusiast). I highly recommend Perilous Judgement to thriller lovers, especially those who crave a faith element. The father’s love will grab your heart. And the lengths you might go for family will haunt your conscience. Well done!”

— Rachelle D. (on

“Perilous Judgment is a book filled with Justice, Love, Passion, and Emotion, I felt as though I was watching a captivating movie on the Big Screen. I didn’t want it to end. I always put myself into whatever I read or watch and I found myself in this book in many of the characters. It’s an Exciting, Exhilarating and a action packed read!”

— Tracy L. (on

“Dennis did more to surprise me and had me up into the middle of the night trying to figure out how he was going to resolve this very intense plot. All story and wonder; the craft makes for smooth sailing through a tumultuous thriller. Well done! A must read.”

— Jill R. (on

“Perilous Judgment was indeed a page-turning thriller! The plot was fast paced and the characters relate-able! Well done, Dennis!”

— S.C.S. (on

“This is a smart story with interesting characters, good plot with twists and turns, and it never slows down. It kept me interested and finally I had to stay up all night to finish it. I liked that it was written without foul language or innuendo which is a refreshing switch from the norm. The book has heart too and I was sad to have it end. I recommend Perilous Judgment for a really good, entertaining read.”

— L.M.G. (on

Perilous Judgment is the first book in Dennis Ricci’s Real Justice Thriller Series. I don’t know what Mr. Ricci’s plans for future books in this series are. I can envision his successfully either creating more tales revolving around his main character, Judge Edward Lamport, or departing from the characters in his first book to write more thrillers continuing to focus on the theme of real justice. Is justice achieved only through the law or can individuals define it as something found in a higher good, a morality above and beyond human created systems of rules?

Perilous Judgment is a story of federal laws, political struggles for power and money, and international narcotics cartels. The main characters have made mistakes in their pasts for which there are consequences. They have decisions to make which affect others and through prayer they try to decipher the will of God in their unique situations. Following the “real justice” theme, many tough but ethical people have to decide at what point there is a higher law to follow.

As a current resident of Mexico, I find reading about the violence of drug cartels difficult because their actions are at such odds with the individuals I have met in the general population. They are kind, friendly and eager to help others. They too dislike corruption in the government and fear the kidnapping and cruelty of gangs. Then as I look back to my home country, I wonder if we are so very different. The political corruption north of the border is more sophisticated and subtle, but is widespread. Large cities are racked with high violent crime rates. I look forward to Mr. Ricci’s next thriller and wonder if his search for real justice will have its focal point solely in the U.S. or if he will once again cross international borders.

— L.G. Higgins (on


FEDERAL JUDGE EDWARD LAMPORT is no stranger to controversy and danger. Nine months into his tenure, he’s received two death threats and is under the protection of US Marshals. But when he receives a plea for help from a woman with whom he had a brief romance twenty-five years earlier, he must face a peril of a different sort, one that involves his long-lost son, Carlos.

While working for a bank in his native Mexico, Carlos discovers an international money-laundering scheme. Now he’s on the run from those who want him dead. To get the young man asylum in the United States, Lamport appeals to his highest connections in Washington, only to find puzzling dead ends at every turn.Caught between law and love, Lamport is forced to take the matter into his own hands. With only his faith in God to guide him, how far is he willing to venture into the dark recesses of political corruption to save his son?