Del Mar author uses his courtroom skills to weave thriller novels

Jim Dutton with “Path to Justice,” his first novel in a trilogy.

When it comes to authentic narrative, Jim Dutton is the real deal. This longtime Del Mar resident had an impressive career as a lifelong prosecutor. He retired five years ago from that profession and has now started a new career as a professional novelist, creatively incorporating many of his past experiences into his fiction.

As an attorney in the Special Prosecutions Unit of the California Attorney General’s Office in San Diego for 24 years, Dutton tried some major cases in federal court, including the first Richard Tuite trial where 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe was the victim. National television shows including Cold Case, 48 Hours, and Forensic Files have featured his murder trials.

Dutton was also Chief of the California Attorney General’s Money Laundering Program for 20 years and has written money laundering and financial investigation legislation that is currently California law. He was also the human trafficking representative for the San Diego Office of the California Attorney General’s Office for 20 years and testified before Congress several times on that subject.

News photo from the San Diego Union-Tribune, on April 28, 2004, showing Jim Dutton at the Tuite trial.

Dutton decided to use all that real-world knowledge as creative fodder for a trilogy of legal thriller novels he’s been working on since retiring. His first, Path to Justice, has been published and is available on Amazon. His second, Path to Revenge, has been written but not yet published. His third novel, Path to Redemption, is still being written. His publisher is AuthorHouse, a self-publishing company.

The main character in his novels, a crusty prosecutor named Nick Drummond, is an amalgamation of Dutton himself and a collection of the prosecutors he’s worked with in the past. Path to Justice exposes the harsh realities and necessary sacrifices to build a case against a ruthless Mexican drug cartel, Baja Norte Familia, from the investigation to the trial. Path to Revenge begins with Drummond facing a grand jury indictment for murder for his role in the death of the escaped cartel leader. And the third in the trilogy, Path to Redemption, will focus on human trafficking of victims from India and East Africa – both areas in which Dutton has traveled extensively.

During his legal career, Dutton had a front-row seat to justice and uses that in his writing. “Many of the legal anecdotes or incidents in the novels are derived from personal experience--either in the courtroom or during investigations,” Dutton says. “The dialogue flowed because I have been around prosecutor and police interaction and banter for most of my legal career. The investigative and trial strategies are based on my personal experience and judgment.”

Readers will find local references to San Diego and Del Mar woven throughout his writing as well, including Jake’s in Del Mar, Opening Day at the Del Mar Racetrack, Point Loma and the beaches of North County. Dutton has also traveled extensively, visiting more than 60 countries in his lifetime, and he includes references to places he’s been throughout his novels. Dutton tends to be drawn to adventure when traveling – he’s climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, stepped over a deadly coral snake in the Amazon jungle, and skied the Himalayas in Kashmir, India. Dutton just finished a trip to Yellowstone National Park where he shot photos of wolves in the Lamar Valley. Dutton lives with his wife, two sons, and their dog, Wylie Coyote.

More information can be found on Dutton’s website at Dutton’s book is available on amazon. com and his website.