Robert Thornhill
Lady Justice And Dr. Death


In Lady Justice and Dr. Death, a series of terminally ill patients are found dead under circumstances that point to a new Dr. Death practicing euthanasia in the Kansas City area.

Walt and his entourage of scrappy seniors are dragged into the 'right-to-die-with-dignity' controversy.

The mystery provides a light-hearted look at this explosive topic and death in general.

You may see end-of-life issues in a whole new light after reading Lady Justice and Dr. Death.

Winner of "Best Mystery Novel" For Fall 2011

by the North American Booksellers Exchange


Autographed Copy



                                                          Reader Reviews


    The life of eighty-six year old Roger Beckham had been as full as any man could have hoped for.
    His parents were warm and supportive and he had many fond childhood memories.
    He was the first in his family to graduate from college and he was fortunate to have gotten into the ground floor of the growing dot com industry.
    His wife of forty years had given him two lovely daughters and they, in turn, had given him three doting grandchildren.
    Of course there were adjustments after his wife passed away ten years ago, but for a man of means, life was still good.
    He loved to travel, enjoy good food, vintage wine, an occasional fine cigar and now and then, the company of a lovely young lady.
    All that changed six months ago.
    He had begun to feel tired and out-of-sorts; not his usual self, so he scheduled a checkup.
    After a round of tests, Dr. Billings gave him the news that brought his world crashing down around him.
    He had cancer.
    Not just any cancer, but the aggressive kind that had rapidly metastasized and spread throughout his internal organs.
    Encouraged by his family to fight the deadly disease, he began a rigorous round of radioactive treatments and chemotherapy.
    The treatment had taken its toll.
    His hair was gone, he had lost thirty pounds and, worst of all, he had lost his will to live.
    He could no longer travel, his food, no matter how tasty, would come back up and even the thought of female companionship had lost its allure.  
    His doctor had assured him that the treatments could prolong his life for another six months, maybe even a year if he was lucky.
    He had perused the Internet and read the pamphlets, so he knew what was coming.
    Soon he would be confined to his bed; then would come the catheter and intravenous feeding and finally the morphine drip that would ease the pain through the final weeks.
    Not only had he lost his health, but he would lose his dignity as well.
    But he discovered that even a dying man has options if he is well connected.
    He made some discreet inquiries and was directed to a man that he came to know only as ‘Thanatos’.
    The initial contacts with the man were much like the first meeting between a ‘john’ and a high-priced hooker.
    Each knows what the other wants, but neither wants to come right out and say it just in case one of them is a cop.
    Finally, after a very painful night, Beckham called Thanotos.
    “I want to die! Can you help me?”
    “I can, but you have to do exactly as I say.”
    The first thing that Thanatos had done was to get Beckham to change physicians.
    He switched to Dr. Graves under the premise that the new doctor had some different treatment options.
    Then he presented Beckham with a written questionnaire requiring specific answers as to why he wanted to die, and finally, he signed a declaration asking for euthanasia and absolving Thanatos and all parties connected with the act, of any coercion or wrongdoing.
    That was a month ago and at last the time had arrived.
    Beckham lived alone and he had chosen a night when he knew that his family would be occupied, so that there would be no interruptions.
    Thanatos had encouraged Beckham to create a computer disk of things and places that had been important to him in his life and to select his favorite music.
    When he arrived, Thanatos directed Beckham to relax in his recliner, with his computer close at hand.
    He sat a small folding table beside the recliner on which he placed a machine with three vials connected to an IV tube.
    Another line running from the machine was connected to a toggle switch.
    “This is how it will work,” Thanatos said. “I will connect this IV tube to a syringe that I will insert into your vein.
    “When you are ready, simply press the toggle switch to activate the machine.
    “The first chemical to enter your system will put you to sleep; the second will relax your muscles and the third will deliver the relief you have been seeking.
    “This is your time, so take as much time as you need. Enjoy your video and your music.
    “I will leave you to be alone with your thoughts.”
    “What about my family?” Beckham asked.
    “When you have finished, I will remove everything connected to your final act. Your family will simply believe that you passed away during the night.”
    Beckham looked deep into Thanatos’ eyes. “Thank you for this; for letting me die with dignity.”
    Thanatos smiled with genuine compassion. “That’s what we do.”
    Thanatos left the room and Beckham turned on the computer.
    Images of his childhood, his early years, his wife and his children passed before his eyes while the notes of Elvis’ haunting Memories filled the room.
    The only thing that could have been more perfect was if his daughters and grandchildren could have been with him in his last moments, but with the laws as they were, he knew that it could never be.
    He quietly sang along:
    “Quiet thoughts come floating down and settle softly to the ground, like golden autumn leaves around my feet.
    “I touch them and they burst apart with sweet memories. Sweet memories.”
    A photo of him and his wife on their wedding day filled the screen and he pressed the toggle switch.
    His last words were, “I’m coming, dear. I’m coming.”

    Thanatos returned and seeing Beckham slumped in the recliner, felt for a pulse.
    There was none.
    Quietly, he removed the IV from Beckham’s arm, packed his machine and put the computer away.
    He looked around the room.
    When Beckham’s family found him, they would believe that he had passed peacefully in his sleep.
    He slipped out the door and disappeared into the night.