Big Lies in a Small Town: A Novel by Diane Chamberlain – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

North Carolina, 2018:

Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, her dream of a career in art is put on hold – until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will get her released from prison immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy Southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to be free, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940:

Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and in great need of work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin’s Press.

My Review:

WOW!

Just… WOW!

I listened to approximately 45 audiobooks in 2021 (four per month) and if I’d finished this one in time, it would definitely have been included in my favorites list for the year—audiobook or print.

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane ChamberlainTold from two POVs, in 2018, Morgan Christopher and 1940 Anna Dale. Morgan is sprung from the North Carolina Correctional Facility on a conditional release—the promise to restore a mural that was to have been installed in the Edenton Post Office in 1940. Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey won a national contest out from under the town artist—considered the shoo-in. From New Jersey! An abomination! What did she know about the south or the town that the mural was to represent? The south is an alien world to Anna and Edenton not exactly thrilled to welcome a northerner.

Morgan’s benefactor, however, is a famous artist, Jesse Jameson, who dedicated himself to young artists with a history. Morgan knew his work and seriously loved it. She dabbled—loved painting—but restoring a mural was something she knew NOTHING about.

Jesse was within months of completing and opening an art gallery at the time of his passing and Morgan’s time frame was two months but when she initially saw the mural, very old, flaking, dusty; she thought impossible.

Completing the mural will keep her out of prison AND she’ll be paid for her work. It’s seriously important. She finds an ally in the project manager and though he’s not an artist can provide some basic start-up instruction in art restoration.

We begin to get filtered narration by Anna, an enormously engaging and sympathetic character, young and naïve, definitely out of her element but very serious about providing the town with the best representation of the area she can. Then as the mural is gradually restored, painstakingly inch by inch, Morgan begins to uncover some disturbing and bizarre inclusions into an otherwise masterful mural. What happened to Anna? Did she go mad?

Anna’s story is mesmerizing, one you can’t tear yourself away from. I loved her philosophy, her openness, and the two boys she took in to help with the work on the mural; especially Jesse. He’s an enigma, a brilliant natural artist, obviously enormously talented. Coming from a “colored” family, however, holds no hope of an artistic career. His family needs his help on the farm and only his aunt encourages and supports his work with Anna. It’s 1940; in the south. And Anna is a white northerner.

What happens next is shocking. A quick intake of breath, a sharp refusal that this is how Anna’s story will end. What happens to Jesse? The mural?

Undeniably the greatest hold is Anna’s story. But Morgan keeps digging and now her heart and soul are in uncovering Anna’s story along with restoration of the mural.

The characters are extremely well developed, the heart goes out to Anna and Jesse, truly the force in this amazing narrative. Storytelling at its finest! From heart-thudding moments to anger, revulsion, and back again to tearful hope. Totally invested in Anna, Jesse, and to a lesser extent Morgan.

Themes of poverty, racism, violence, and rape. Easy to switch back and forth between the POVs, each advancing the tension, the questions swirling maddingly around the mind. How can this be resolved? Or CAN it?

And the conclusion: beautiful.

I read five final nominees in the Goodreads Choice Awards for 2020 and this was not even listed. If I have a problem with a book, I check to see if or why I’m off base in my assessment, pursuing both low and high reviews. It looks as if I’m in agreement with most reviews this time. So, what happened?

This is a truly immersive read from beginning to amazing end. Strong, individual and believable characters. The mural, during the restoration process, took shape and color in my mind becoming both awesomely jaw-dropping and then bewildering, confusing.

Brilliant! Did you read or listen to the audiobook? What was your reaction?

Book Details:

Genre: Family Life Fiction, Psychological Thrillers, Historical Thrillers
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B07T8C3RT3
Listening Length: 13 hrs 19 mins
Narrator: Susan Bennett
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Big Lies in a Small Town [Amazon]

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Diane Chamberlain - authorThe Author: Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and (London) Sunday Times best-selling author of 27 novels. The daughter of a school principal who supplied her with a new book almost daily, Diane quickly learned the emotional power of story. Although she wrote many small “books” as a child, she didn’t seriously turn to writing fiction until her early thirties when she was waiting for a delayed doctor’s appointment with nothing more than a pad, a pen, and an idea. She was instantly hooked.

Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and lived for many years in both San Diego and northern Virginia. She received her master’s degree in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, she was a hospital social worker in both San Diego and Washington, D.C, and a psychotherapist in private practice in Alexandria, Virginia, working primarily with adolescents.

More than two decades ago, Diane was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which changed the way she works: She wrote two novels using voice recognition software before new medication allowed her to get back to typing. She feels fortunate that her arthritis is not more severe and that she’s able to enjoy everyday activities as well as keep up with a busy travel schedule.

Diane lives in North Carolina with her significant other, photographer John Pagliuca, and their odd but lovable Shetland Sheepdog, Cole.

Please visit Diane’s website at http://www.dianechamberlain.com for her event schedule and for more information on her newest novel, Big Lies in a Small Town, as well as a complete list of her books.

Susan Bennett- narratorThe Narrator:  [NOTE: I think this is the correct Susan Bennett. If it is not, please let me know and I’ll correct immediately.] Susan Alice Bennett is an American voice actress and a former backup singer for Roy Orbison and Burt Bacharach. She is best known as the female American voice of Apple’s Siri personal assistant, since the service was introduced on the iPhone 4S on October 4, 2011. Wikipedia

©2021 V Williams

happy thursday!

Twenty Years Later: A Riveting New Thriller by Charlie Donlea – #BookReview – #psychologicalthriller

Book Blurb:

Twenty Years Later by Charlie DonleaAvery Mason, host of American Events, knows the subjects that grab a TV audience’s attention. Her latest story—a murder mystery laced with kinky sex, tragedy, and betrayal—is guaranteed to be ratings gold. New DNA technology has allowed the New York medical examiner’s office to make its first successful identification of a 9/11 victim in years. The twist: the victim, Victoria Ford, had been accused of the gruesome murder of her married lover. In a chilling last phone call to her sister, Victoria begged her to prove her innocence.

Emma Kind has waited twenty years to put her sister to rest, but closure won’t be complete until she can clear Victoria’s name. Alone she’s had no luck, but she’s convinced that Avery’s connections and fame will help. Avery, hoping to negotiate a more lucrative network contract, goes into investigative overdrive. Victoria had been having an affair with a successful novelist, found hanging from the balcony of his Catskills mansion. The rope, the bedroom, and the entire crime scene were covered in Victoria’s DNA.

But the twisted puzzle of Victoria’s private life is just the beginning. And what Avery doesn’t realize is that there are other players in the game who are interested in Avery’s own secret past—one she has kept hidden from both the network executives and her television audience. A secret she thought was dead and buried . . .

His Review:

September 11, 2001 was an American tragedy. Crimes committed on that day were negated or over-shadowed by the event. The justice system realized that you could not try the persons killed in the blast. Avery Mason also realized this as she prepared for her highly-rated crime expose: ”American Events.”

Twenty Years Later by Charlie DonleaNetwork executives are very frugal when it comes to their expenditures. A low-ball offer is on the table for Avery and she is not happy. The network had offered her a paltry ¾ of a million per year for five years. A slap on the face with a rotten fish could not have been any more of a putdown. Her predecessor, Mack Carter, had been paid eight million a year for the same job!

She had closed the year out with the highest-rated show on television. Putting her life on the line to educate people on how to get out of a vehicle submerging in a lake closed the season with a bang! So why were the network executives offering such a low-ball offer?

Avery has more personal problems as well. Her father had been a Wall Street high flyer who was running a very effective Ponzi scheme. He had disappeared three years earlier with an estimated 15 million dollars of his investor’s money and the justice system wanted him badly.

Charlie Donlea spins a very interesting tale of greed and avarice among the New York and Wall Street elite. The “sins of the father” are hard to overcome in the dog-eat-dog world that is Wall Street business. This tale explores the problem with someone who is the offspring of one of these tycoons. Before Tammany Hall and the other rulers of Wall Street developed the methodology, the stage was set to fleece the rich persons’ greed.

CE WilliamsI found the book enlightening and a bit disgusting. The theme is that there is never enough money to satisfy the greed and avarice of the very rich. 5 stars – C.E. Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Kensington Books
ASIN: B091M75X6J
Print Length: 404 pages
Publication Date: December 28, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Twenty Years Later [Amazon] 
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Charlie Donlea - authorThe Author: Charlie Donlea is the #1 internationally bestselling author of Summit Lake, The Girl Who Was Taken, Don’t Believe It, Some Choose Darkness, The Suicide House and Twenty Years Later. Praised for his “soaring pace, teasing plot twists” (BookPage) and talent for writing an ending that “makes your jaw drop” (The New York Times Book Review), Donlea has been called a “bold new writer…on his way to becoming a major figure in the world of suspense” (Publishers Weekly). A late bloomer, he was twenty years old when he read his first novel––THE FIRM by John Grisham––and knew he would someday write thrillers. His books have now been translated into more than a dozen languages across thirty countries.

He was born and raised in Chicago, where he continues to live with his wife and two children. Visit him online at CharlieDonlea.com.

[He spends a part of each year fishing with his father in the far reaches of Canada, where the roads end and lakes are accessible only by floatplane. These majestic trips to “God’s Country” inspired the setting for his first novel, Summit Lake. Goodreads profile]

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Rock Paper Scissors: A Novel by Alice Feeney – #Audiobook Review – #domesticthrillers

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Book Blurb:

Rock Paper Scissors is the latest exciting domestic thriller from the queen of the killer twist, New York Times best-selling author Alice Feeney.

Think you know the person you married? Think again….

Things have been wrong with Mr. and Mrs. Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife. 

Every anniversary the couple exchanges traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after. 

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.  

My Review:

Admittedly, this was an audiobook and I choose audiobooks to fill the hours in which I’m cleaning, gardening, shopping, or cooking. So, is it possible I missed something along the way?

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice FeeneyAlice Feeney, the “queen of the killer twist.” I must admit to having gotten confused near the end with all the ole switcheroos. There is a dual POV all through the narrative and certainly no problem to follow who was who for some time. The anniversary letters that Amelia were never going to give her husband Adam became more depressing with each year of the marriage. These people were NOT happy. He has face blindness, prosopagnosia. Gees, okay, but did he still have it into the conclusion?

Having following the anniversary traditional gifts throughout their nine years, they are trying a weekend in Scotland for their tenth, and perhaps last, anniversary. They are each aware the other is hiding secrets. It doesn’t take a long time for me to mistrust either of them and the mistrust to grow into dislike.

There is something really weird about this win at Blackwater Chapel in the Scottish Highlands and doesn’t take long to become sinister, creepy, which only adds to the deception each is dishing to the other. There is a “caretakers” cottage a short distance from the chapel, occupied by an old crone with her own motives and objectives.

The dead of winter atmosphere, cold, snow, ice, freezing temps. Inoperable car, remote location. Ooh, the atmosphere—definitely adds to the suspense vibe—builds the tension. But at the end, who was who? I was lost.

Confusion, convoluted albeit well-plotted novel reigns. I’ve read two of her other thrillers, Sometimes I Lie, and His & Hers, giving the latter five stars. Not so sold on this one, but still an interesting and engaging read, and I’ll be looking for another Feeney book.

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thrillers, Family Life Fiction, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B08ST3T35N
Listening Length: 10 hrs 22 mins
Narrator: Richard ArmitageStephanie Racine
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Rock Paper Scissors [Amazon]
 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four Stars 4 stars

 

Alice Feeney - authorThe Author: Alice Feeney is a New York Times bestselling author and journalist. Rock Paper Scissors is her fourth novel and is being made into a TV series for Netflix by the producer of The Crown. It will be published around the world in 2021.

Her debut novel, Sometimes I Lie, was an international bestseller, has been translated into over twenty languages, and is being made into a TV series by Warner Bros. starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. His & Hers is also being adapted for screen by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films.

Alice was a BBC Journalist for fifteen years before becoming an author. She lives in Devon with her family.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

happy thursday!

 

The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Book Blurb:

A Reese’s Book Club Pick

The bride – the plus one – the best man – the wedding planner – the bridesmaid – the body.

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why? 

My Review:

When I wrote a post about joining a book club back in May 2020, I included Reese Witherspoon in the picks and joined her club, getting book club choices and posts from time to time. No, I didn’t see this one, and usually, an island, a murder mystery—I’d have been onboard. But it wasn’t until I saw this in the audiobook selections that I actually noted it was a Witherspoon pick and now I’m confused—it’s a bestseller?

The Guest List by Lucy FoleyFirst, the setting: an Island off the coast of Ireland, solid with bogs worse than quicksand and rocky, sheer cliffs into the ocean that had me terrified just reading about it.

Then add to the island a large (well, I consider 150 wedding guests to be large) wedding party in all phases of drunk or stoned, the ole’ boys club from uni, Jules, the bride, successful editor, as is the groom, a successful TV personality.

This has got to be the most depressing wedding ever (well, except possibly for my own), told in multiple POV’s from the bride, groom, plus one, best man, wedding planner, and bridesmaid. It also bounced time frames from the university experience to the present.

I needed an engaging character, but there wasn’t any. Privileged, monied, educated, all keeping secrets, prejudices, injustices, and selfish, narcissistic.

The atmosphere is toxic leading the reader to correctly assume someone isn’t going to make it out alive. Pretty obvious who that will be—he’s positively obnoxious. Which also opens the door to the person who’ll knock him off. Well, really, if you’ve been listening to the narrative (although I agree it gets difficult), you’ll have a pretty good idea who that might be.

Between the rotating POV chapters and the timelines, it takes forever to say the vows. Phew! But no, the reader/listener still has to survive the reception—well, most will survive except for one of the characters.

Takes too long to get to it, plot holes, unrelatable and nasty characters. (And need I mention objectionable language?) It was a relief when it quietly ended and skipped right into an intro for another book. Not sure I missed something but by then didn’t care.

So tell me–have you read this? A typical example of her writing style? Do I dare try another?

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers,
Publisher: HarperAudio
ASIN: B07WSFQHSX
Listening Length: 10 hrs 22 mins
Narrators: Jot DaviesChloe MasseyOlivia DowdAoife McMahonSarah OvensRich Keeble
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Guest List [Amazon] 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three Starsthree stars

Lucy Foley - authorThe Author: Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.

Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.

Say hello at http://www.facebook.com/LucyFoleyAuthor and follow Lucy on Twitter @LucyFoleyTweets and Instagram @LucyFoleyAuthor

©2021 – V Williams V Williams

Keep Me Close: An utterly gripping psychological thriller with a shocking twist by Jane Holland – #BookReview – #medicalthrillers

Book Blurb:

Someone is hurting the most vulnerable person in your life, but they can’t tell you who it is. What would you do?

Keep Me Close by Jane HollandWhen shy publisher Kate Kinley finds mysterious bruises on her mother’s arms she assumes the worst. Suffering with early onset dementia, her mother insists that nothing is wrong; it was just a clumsy accident. But was it an accident, or has her mother’s illness made her forget what really happened?

In desperate need of someone she can trust, her isolation and paranoia grow as the closest people in her life become key suspects.

With each heart-stopping revelation, Kate begins to realise that the perpetrator is no longer interested in inflicting bruises; they want blood.

Keep Me Close is a compelling story of gross immorality, a cautionary tale of how easily wicked people can take advantage of the vulnerable elderly people in your life.

His Review:

Caring for a parent with dementia is never easy. Kate has had a number of people taking care of her mother who is rapidly deteriorating. Mysterious bruising and other problems indicate someone is mistreating her. Who would do such a thing to an elderly frail woman?

Keep Me Close by Jane HollandAfter her longtime care giver disappears, Kate is pleased to find Ruby. She is the perfect answer and is given a room in the house to help compensate for the many hours she spends with Kates’ mom. Signs of abuse point to Kate and letters appear under her door claiming she is a terrible person and unworthy.

Kate desperately works to keep her mother at home and under loving care and protection. Her job as a publishing editor is continually at risk because of a uncaring employer and a punk writer. She is assigned to correct the proof for the writer and finds many problems. Conflicts arise as her mother gets worse and her boss threatens to fire her.

Logan is a handsome suitor and Kate allows herself to date two years after her husband’s suicide. She is very tenuous and careful in allowing any relationships because of the loss of not only a husband but her father as well. A solicitor clouds the care issue because he is “her mothers’” solicitor and not hers. This relationship clouds the overall tension and Kate’s good intensions.

The main character is portrayed as a very tenuous personality whose relationships are always under scrutiny by her boss. He is a true self-centered narcissist who does not like women. His response to most of them is smiling wickedness. One would like to accidentally run over him in a dark alley.

CE WilliamsI enjoyed the novel but got a little tired of Kate’s inability to stand up for herself. She also tends to procrastinate in reporting events that scare and concern her. The police are a day or two behind each event. Rather than report the abuse of her mother to the police she hesitates because she feels that they will think she is the perpetrator. Wallowing in self doubt and letting others push her around got a bit tiresome and allowed some interest to wane. 4 stars – CE Williams 

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Medical Thrillers, Vigilante Justice Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher: Lume Books
ASIN: B096W81Y6Q
Print Length: 326 pages
Publication Date: September 9, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Keep Me Close [Amazon]
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Jane Holland - authorThe Author: Jane Holland is a Gregory Award-winning poet and bestselling novelist (Twitter @janeholland1). Her psychological thriller GIRL NUMBER ONE hit #1 in the UK Kindle store in 2015 and 2018. Latest novel: KEEP ME CLOSE. Her debut novel KISSING THE PINK was inspired by the Women’s Pro Snooker circuit, where Jane was once a champion player ranked 24th in the world before being banned for life for ‘bringing the game into disrepute’. Since turning from sport to writing, she’s published dozens of novels with major publishing houses under various pseudonyms, including: Betty Walker (Avon Books: World War II saga series ‘The Cornish Girls’) Beth Good (contemporary romcoms), Victoria Lamb (historical fiction and YA fantasy), Elizabeth Moss (historical romance), Hannah Coates (feel-good doggy fiction), and JJ Holland (action thrillers featuring disillusioned peer Aubrey Savage).

She also writes practical writing manuals such as Writing Prompts for Thriller Writers, along with a sister book for Romance Writers, and other non-fiction books, including a new ‘Dreams Journal’ for complex dream interpretation.

Photograph credit: Anand Chhabra

©2021 V Williams – V Williams

False Witness: A Novel by Karin Slaughter – #Audiobook Review – #legalthriller

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

Book Blurb:

AN ORDINARY LIFE…

Leigh Collier has worked hard to build what looks like a normal life. She’s an up-and-coming defense attorney at a prestigious law firm in Atlanta, would do anything for her sixteen-year-old daughter Maddy, and is managing to successfully coparent through a pandemic after an amicable separation from her husband Walter.

HIDES A DEVASTATING PAST…

But Leigh’s ordinary life masks a childhood no one should have to endure … a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, and ultimately destroyed by a brutal act of violence.

BUT NOW THE PAST IS CATCHING UP…

On a Sunday night at her daughter’s school play, she gets a call from one of the firm’s partners who wants Leigh to come on board to defend a wealthy man accused of multiple counts of rape. Though wary of the case, it becomes apparent she doesn’t have much choice if she wants to keep her job. They’re scheduled to go to trial in one week. When she meets the accused face-to-face, she realizes that it’s no coincidence that he’s specifically asked for her to represent him. She knows him. And he knows her. More to the point, he may know what happened over twenty years ago, and why Leigh has spent two decades avoiding her past.  

AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

Suddenly she has a lot more to lose than this case. The only person who can help is her younger, estranged sister Callie—the last person Leigh would ever want to drag into this after all they’ve been through. But with the life-shattering truth in danger of being revealed, she has no choice…

My Review:

Another author for whom I’ve seen tons of books, reviews, and accolades, I bit when I saw the massive selection of books, both ebooks and audiobooks listed at my favorite local library.  I’ll never understand why an author would pack what might otherwise be viewed as a well plotted, fast-paced five star contender with language that would make even a sailor blush. And this one was so blatantly graphic, violent, and brutal, I almost gave up on it several times.

False Witness by Karin SlaughterThe narrative crawled like a centipede up the back of my neck, raising hairs, and would not be swatted away.

The main character, Leigh, a defense attorney, may not be the most sympathetic character over that of her younger sister, Callie. Callie becomes a heroin addict following a catastrophic accident. A child gymnast and cheerleader, the resulting broken neck left her with unrelenting pain. Further, she was babysitting a boy whose father began abusing her. Callie finds herself in a life and death struggle with the father and ends up killing him. She calls her older sister and together they deal with it—the body, the scene, and the money which pays for Leigh’s college.

Neither of the two can escape the lingering trauma and Leigh is left with crushing guilt over the resulting spiral of her sister. It’s all her fault. All her fault! She’d given the babysitting job to her sister burying her experience with the boy’s father.

Now 20 years later, Leigh finds herself defending Andrew in a horrific rape case. Turns out, Andrew is Trevor, the son of the man they disposed of. He is now a very wealthy sexual predator, a vicious psychopath, a 33 year old following the path of dear ole dad.

The author has developed her characters so well, a reader might very well feel the skin crawl at the connection between he and Leigh. His delight in manipulating the trial, his hold over Leigh’s sixteen year old daughter. He drips with power, impunity, entitlement. He’s cold, calculating.

The novel also includes the contemporary atmosphere of the impact of the Covid pandemic while examining each piece of the puzzle, the exploitation, the cold disengagement of the accused. Juxtaposed against the court drama is the struggle of Callie, the desperation of Leigh, and the limitations of normal public function due to the virus.

The book examines some horrifically disturbing issues: drug addiction, rape, sexual deviation, domestic violence, and murder.

There are few emotional connections here, the two sisters kept at arm’s length by an extremely abusive background. One likeable character in the vet where Callie routinely returns to care for animals. One sister damaged psychologically and physically for life, one going the other way into intellectually unemotional detachment, driven together again for a shared solution. A story that does not, can not have, a happy ending.

I can honestly admit my old-fashioned mind was grossed out on more than one occasion and the language was abominable. While the story might be engrossing, the level of mayhem coupled with the language was over the top for me. This is probably my first and last book by this author. Have you the same experience or dulled by the constant hammering of the theme and language?

Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers, Suspense
Publisher:  Blackstone Publishing
ASIN: B09239CX27
Listening Length: 18 hrs 39 mins
Narrator: Kathleen Early
Publication Date: July 20, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: False Witness [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three point Five of Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

Karin Slaughter - authorThe Author: Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her 21 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated COP TOWN and the instant NYT bestselling stand-alone novels PRETTY GIRLS, THE GOOD DAUGHTER, and PIECES OF HER. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, she lives in Atlanta. Her stand-alone novel PIECES OF HER is in development with Netflix, starring Toni Collette, and the Grant County and Will Trent series are in development for television.

http://www.karinslaughter.com

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AuthorKarinSlaughter/

Instagram http://www.instagram.com/karinslaughterauthor/

Twitter @SlaughterKarin

Kathleen Early - narrator, actressThe Narrator:  Kathleen Early was born on October 31, 1973 in Irving, Texas, USA. She is an actress, known for Across the Universe (2007), Trip in a Summer Dress (2004) and Grey’s Anatomy (2005).

 

 

 

 

©2021 V Williams V Williams

The Necklace by Matt Witten – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse, Murder of a Child 

Book Blurb:

The clock ticks down in a heart-pounding crusade for justice

The Necklace by Matt WittenSusan Lentigo’s daughter was murdered twenty years ago—and now, at long last, this small-town waitress sets out on a road trip all the way from Upstate New York to North Dakota to witness the killer’s execution.

On her journey she discovers shocking new evidence that leads her to suspect the condemned man is innocent—and the real killer is still free. Even worse, her prime suspect has a young daughter who’s at terrible risk. With no money and no time to spare, Susan sets out to uncover the truth before an innocent man gets executed and another little girl is killed.

But the FBI refuses to reopen the case. They—and Susan’s own mother—believe she’s just having an emotional breakdown. Reaching deep, Susan finds an inner strength she never knew she had. With the help of two unlikely allies—a cynical, defiant teenage girl and the retired cop who made the original arrest—Susan battles the FBI to put the real killer behind bars. Will she win justice for the condemned man—and her daughter—at last?

My Review:

Susan Lentigo has spent twenty miserable years following the kidnap, rape, and murder of her seven year old daughter. The death of her daughter understandably changed her life and as much as she tried, and failed, to move on, she is finally to witness the execution on death row of the man convicted for the brutal murder.

The Necklace by Matt WittenAt the time, she carried a rage for the man convicted, and asked of the judge the death penalty. (Susan later harbors nagging doubts regarding the man she was sure responsible. Something just wasn’t right.) It was a heinous crime, a necklace homemade by Susan and her daughter still missing, thought to be a trophy.

Okay, back up.

She is still in the same house, the same waitressing job, and as broke as ever since her husband left her within the year of their daughter’s death. The little town kicked off a fundraiser to supply funds for the trip to North Dakota to witness the execution. She’ll take a bus and the fundraising covers the fare with some expense money left over.

Susan blew hot and cold for me—I could understand her anger, the emotionally charged forthcoming event, but some of her snap decisions left me wondering about her objective decision-making. The money given to her was stolen, leaving her broke and at the generosity of people, some of whom made for amazing support characters. I got tired of her alternate rude behavior, however, lashing out with foul language, or withdrawal. Her trip got sidetracked.

She begins to rack up some clues, flaming her doubts again about the condemned man, but the person of interest instead now is even more devastating. Susan determines she must prove her theory. Fortunately, she can ally with the former FBI agent involved in her daughter’s case and he’ll help with DNA analysis of her clue.

After a somewhat sullen, somber start, the pace revs up and by the time they arrive at the prison to witness the execution, the fast-pace swings into high gear and demands full on attention, gripping, and riveted to the conclusion.

Well, and then, the conclusion—while satisfying on the surface—neglected to complete a few minor details. That, along with a couple plot holes, contradictions, pushed me off a higher star rating. Yes, I was kept glued during the latter third (quarter?), but pushed just a bit beyond disbelief a couple times as well. 3.5 stars

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley and these are my honest opinions. Currently on pre-order.

Rosepoint Rating: Three point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
ASIN: B08SR91BD4
Print Length: 259 pages
Publication Date: To be released September 7, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Matt Witten - authorThe Author: [Matt Witten] I’ve written in all kinds of genres: TV shows, stage plays, novels, and movies.

Novels: My thriller THE NECKLACE will come out in September, 2021, published by Oceanview Publishing. It’s optioned for film by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Cartel Pictures. Lee Child says: “This is as fast and tense as a great thriller should be, but it’s full of warmth and humanity too – one small-town woman’s quest for the most poignant kind of justice you could imagine. Buy it today and read it tonight!” For more info on the novel you can check my website, mattwittenwriter.com.

I’ve written four mystery novels starring amateur sleuth Jacob Burns. These books were all originally published by Signet; now they’re all available on Kindle. The first novel, BREAKFAST AT MADELINE’S, received the Malice Domestic Award. The Library Journal called BREAKFAST AT MADELINE’S “the perfect antidote for a rainy day.” Publishers Weekly, reviewing GRAND DELUSION, said “Witten delights with his charming characters, especially Burns himself.” The Romantic Times said, “Told with warmth and wit, STRANGE BEDFELLOWS is a wry story that packs a wallop of an ending.” Murder Express called THE KILLING BEE “a fast, witty, thoroughly engrossing novel that I was sorry to see end.”

TV: I’ve written for House, Law & Order, Pretty Little Liars, Medium, Homicide, CSI: Miami, Judging Amy, Supernatural, and other shows.

Plays: My published plays include The Deal, Washington Square Moves, and The Ties That Bind. They’ve been produced in theatres all over the world.

Movie: My movie DRONES, directed by Rick Rosenthal and starring Matt O’Leary and Eloise Mumford, premiered in 2014 at the London Film Festival, the Austin Film Festival, and the AFI Fest. It’s available at Amazon.

So that’s my professional life in a nutshell! My wife Nancy Seid teaches at Crossroads School in Santa Monica, and our sons Zack and Jacob do machine learning, CRISPR, and all kinds of amazing stuff.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

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