Final Judgment (Samantha Brinkman Book 4) by Marcia Clark – a #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Shared review with the Vicarious Blogger

Book Blurb:

Final Judgment by Marcia ClarkA murder investigation draws firebrand attorney Samantha Brinkman into her boyfriend’s past in this novel of high-risk suspense by bestselling author Marcia Clark.

When it comes to relationships and self-preservation, defense attorney Samantha Brinkman has always been cut and run. But it’s different with her new lover, Niko, an ambitious and globally famous entrepreneur. Sam is putting her faith in him. She has to. He’s also her new client—a suspect in the murder of an investor whose shady dealings turned Niko’s good life upside down.

He had the motive: revenge. As did many others who banked a fortune on the wrong man. That’s a point in Niko’s favor. So is his alibi for the day of the slaying. Until that alibi mysteriously disappears. As Sam’s feverish search for another viable killer begins, the investigation only leads deeper into Niko’s past and its secrets.

From the darkest suspicions to final judgment, fighting for Niko is Sam’s job. To do it, she must risk everything on a man who could make all her worst fears come true.

My Thoughts

I’m not quite sure whether this is supposed to be a legal thriller or not. True, defense attorney Samantha Brinkman is back with her three-person legal office. Besides herself, there is Alex her tech guru and investigator and Michelle her BFF and paralegal, bookkeeper, office manager. And there are other files to work, cases to manage, court appearances and meetings with two clients. But in the meantime, she has apparently become majorly involved with Niko. He is gorgeous and well-to-do. Unfortunately, he is also the person who advised his mother to invest in a money scheme too good to be true and she’s lost everything.

Final Judgment by Marcia ClarkNiko’s financial contact is just the tip of the iceberg and this multi-plot gets complex real fast. Niko has a couple holes in his alibis and Sam begins to detect lies and sins of omission. She is getting serious about him, but is now torn between his possible guilt or innocence when the second guy coordinating the scheme goes missing. Now she’s really up a creek, positive one minute Niko did it, but vowing to defend him with everything she has. She has the feeling regardless that she must find the one who did it–if he didn’t. She must know the truth. Did he kill one–or both of them?

I did have a few problems with this one. Sam is still fighting demons from her childhood and he is still giving her nightmares. Niko is giving her nightmares. She is taking showers morning and night, drinking a lot of tequila, and discussing things with both her assistant/associates that would be considered not only very personal, but privileged and discussing illegal activity–theirs. There is little time devoted to any courtroom appearances–most is running down leads, contacts, other investors, and the well-plotted mystery gets more complicated. More a whodunit than legal thriller.

I enjoyed descriptions of the area and legendary traffic jambs, travel into insanely rich neighborhoods of the LA basin. There were twists and the conclusion came as a surprise. Sam, still acting more PI than attorney, managed to pull a fast one and gain some long-desired resolution. Certainly a win-win. There is profane language as well as frank deviant behaviors. My second book with the author having read Snap Judgment, I really prefer more legal/courtoom action, less romance. I received this uncorrected proof from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to continue in the series. 4 stars

His Thoughts

I found the defensive attorney, Samantha Brinkman, a little too needy in her relationship with her lover. The chapters were structured around the same tenet; how could she save her client/lover? But this boyfriend/client was a bit of a reach for me. I could understand her need for strong male bonding but she seemed to swing cold and then hot.

Her stepfather was a very wicked man as were the other villains in this story. Despite her shortcomings, Samantha weaves a very intriguing tale of justice and recompense. The storyline is built around the seedy side of investing and the male depravity is eye-opening. Two of the villains are portrayed as sociopaths. Interesting legal maneuvering while trying to keep a killer out of prison makes for a far-fetched tale. Her childhood was abysmal and therefore the conclusion was gratifying.  CE WilliamsI asked myself if there are actually attorneys who would do such a thing. Knowing Marcia Clark’s background, I wonder if she actually works at that game. I rather feel that this is a mental alter ego that wishes some of this was actual methodology.

This is an entertaining book with a satisfying ending. Marcia, thanks for the literary ride and adventure. 4 stars – CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Vigilante Justice
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ASIN: B07TMN6WR8
Print Length: 416 pages
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Final Judgment (Amazon)
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Marcia Clark - authorThe Author: California native Marcia Clark is the author of Guilt by Association, Guilt by Degrees, Killer Ambition, and The Competition, all part of the Rachel Knight series. A practicing criminal lawyer since 1979, she joined the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office in 1981, where she served as prosecutor for the trials of Robert Bardo, convicted of killing actress Rebecca Schaeffer, and, most notably, O. J. Simpson. The bestselling Without a Doubt, which she cowrote, chronicles her work on the Simpson trial. Clark has been a frequent commentator on a variety of shows and networks, including Today, Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, and MSNBC, as well as a legal correspondent for Entertainment Tonight.

Follow Marcia on Twitter at @thatmarciaclark – Connect with Ms. Clark on her website.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Privateers by Charlie Newton – a #BookReview

Book Blurb:

Three fierce women. A ghost ship’s treasure. And a bone-chilling Caribbean warlord.

Privateers by Charlie NewtonWorld War I rages. US marines storm Haiti’s Banque Nationale, loot $26 million in gold, then vanish. A century later, clues surface during the demolition of a Chicago racetrack, pointing to the Corazón Santo—the notorious triangle of Havana, Kingston, and Port-au-Prince. Three fierce, vibrant women reunite to hunt the treasure, hoping it will buy their survival from a long-buried, catastrophic misjudgment. They conscript a streetwise Chicago horseplayer’s help, then risk a return into the Caribbean’s mangrove jungles and mountains that have tried to kill them before. The uneasy partners are quickly swallowed in a terrifying labyrinth of shadow government and modern-day piracy where a final choice will be forced upon them: gold, survival, or redemption?

My Review:

This is one of those blurbs that caught my eye and heaven knows I’ve certainly read my share of privateer, buccaneer, rastamon type novels, particularly with one of my favorite authors bent on finding a long-buried treasure. Right up my alley, you say? Maybe not.

Privateers by Charlie NewtonThere is the usual cadre of beautiful but savage women, all with a deadly history and somewhat shadowy history of CIA activities, as is the protagonist. The treasure is an old one, tied to an Al Capone legend. The protagonist, Bill Owens, owes money. Well, maybe not Bill Owens, but a partner, whose debt with the devil gets passed to him. He loves to bet on the ponies, but no matter the inside scoop or how he’s tried to study the sheets, just can’t seem to win. So yeah, there is that desperation for money.

Owens’ POV tends to bounce from current to 1986, recounting some history of how or why he got here. The narrative also switches POV to one or the other of the women (in first person). From the beginning it was obvious this was going to be a dark, gritty, crime noir reminiscent of some of the old radio shows (and that was the voice that kept speaking to me). While that might have been fun for us older generation, it became obvious very quickly that current day street language was going to be peppered heavily throughout. I’ve read plenty of books that bounced timelines before and don’t generally have a problem with them, but for some reason, these confused me.

The plot is a deep-dive into the murky and treacherous world of the Caribbean underbelly, particularly Haiti with political unrest and one despot overthrowing the previous landing the island into deadly bouts of disease and poverty as well as the wholesale gruesome death of inhabitants. And, as seems to happen in that area of the world, a hurricane. “Hide from the wind, run from the water.”

The treasure hunt begins with the discovery of a clue to the treasure’s location, but always written in such obscure language it would have taken more than a horserace champion or Rhodes scholar to puzzle it out. I did enjoy references to the different Caribbean islands (many of which were mentioned in said books by the other author). What I didn’t enjoy were the graphic descriptions of torture and mutilation.

The characters, including the antagonist, are not fully developed and I lost sense of them more than once as the women blended into one and the narrative veered from one clue to the next, each one resulting in a situation worse than the one before. It takes awhile to get into and at some point, wondered why anyone would think this was worth the effort, escaping one death-defying moment to tromp directly into the next. Seems the clues weren’t ever really going to lead to the treasure and I’m thinking, “Come on, already, find it or give it up.” Difficult for me to become engaged and no character with which I could invest. The conclusion remains dark and serves up the themes of loss, murder, gambling, rebellions, and inhumanity.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. My first experience with the author. There will be readers who find it a fast-paced adventure thriller but it just didn’t work for me.

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery and Crime, Vigilante Justice
Publisher: Black Type Press

  • ISBN-10:1734436808
  • ISBN-13:978-1734436808
  • ASIN: B084T5KM8V

Print Length: 391 pages
Publication Date: March 31, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Privateers

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Rosepoint Publishing: Three of Five Stars 3-stars

Charlie Newton - authorThe Author: Charlie Newton is a Chicago native, a writer known for a global life on the road and extended MIA absences. When he does publish, Newton’s heart-pounding, gritty, and witty realism has been a starred-review favorite of the critics and a finalist for the Edgar, the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, the Macavity, and the International Thriller Writers awards. Newton is the author of Calumet City (Simon & Schuster, 2008), Start Shooting (Doubleday, 2012), and Traitor’s Gate (Thomas & Mercer, 2015).

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Time’s Up, Afton by Brent Jones – a #BookReview

Time's Up, Afton by Brent JonesTitle: Time’s Up, Afton (Afton Morrison Series Book 4) by Brent Jones

Genre: Thriller, Crime Fiction, Vigilante Justice, Serial Killers

142 Pages

Publication Date: To be released October 29, 2018

ASIN: B07G25CNSF

Source: Author request

Title and Cover: Time’s Up, AftonLove these beautiful covers

Book Blurb:

Some secrets stay buried for a lifetime, but nothing lasts forever.

Connected to a number of high-profile deaths, Afton finds herself not only under scrutiny from the chief of police, but damned in the court of public opinion, as well.

In the aftermath of the fiery assault on Wakefield, a low-level gang has infiltrated the town, flooding its streets with bad drugs, killing several teenagers. As Afton prepares for the final showdown with her tormentor, she marks each gang member as a target for elimination, in a methodical plan to gain the upper hand. What follows is a race against the clock that will keep readers guessing until the very last page, as Afton risks life and limb to fulfill her murderous mission of doing good in the world.

Time’s Up, Afton is the fourth and final part in a new serial thriller by author Brent Jones. Packed with grit and action, The Afton Morrison Series delves into a world of moral ambiguity, delivering audiences an unlikely heroine in the form of a disturbed vigilante murderess. Continue reading “Time’s Up, Afton by Brent Jones – a #BookReview”

Nice Try, Afton – a #BookReview

Nice Try, Afton by Brent Jones

Title: Nice Try, Afton (Afton Morrison Series Book 3) by Brent Jones

Genre: Thriller, Crime Fiction, Vigilante Justice

Novella: 111 Pages

Publication Date: To be released September 17, 2018

Source: Direct author request

Title and Cover: Nice Try, Afton – Love these beautiful covers

With Wakefield smothering in the smoky haze from recent arsons and oppressive humidity from the recent downpour in the summer heat, Afton scrambled to avoid detection by the National Guard seeking a meeting with her nemesis. The dramatic conclusion to book 2 left the town in smoldering shambles and Afton’s unintentional cohorts, including her brother Chris and his girlfriend Tia, Jared, and Kim, extremely vulnerable. Afton makes a last-ditch effort to cloak her companions and perhaps divert the familial revelation divulged in book 2.

Discussing the brutal assault in the open with companions accidentally involved didn’t do much to clear the air or formulate a plan. But one thing is sure–they must move. Afton and brother Chris go on a search, hoping to track down that familial connection. They discover, however, that Tia’s expected safe haven was insufficient to provide the protection they thought was proffered.

In an ever-increasing tangle of deception, misdirection, and twists, the narrative continues to stump and perplex the reader. Can there be any solution to this dark plot involving a protagonist professed vigilante murderess? Is she too heinous to actually become empathetic or are we beginning to see the emergence of contrived misconception here. There appears some kind of evolution in a psyche long forged by birth and later circumstances.

As I’ve mentioned before, Jones delivers his unlikely protagonist in intense and raw dialogue, adult situations, and language. It is a novella of nail-biting hard-core suspense and you won’t get to breathe until Book 4 is done and won. These characters pit each other in good vs evil and we’ve yet to see their true colors as they continue to evolve.

Author Brent Jones calls his series an abstract of “moral ambiguity.” Indeed! A puzzling contradiction. See my review of the second in the series, See You Soon, Afton and Go Home, Afton (#1) here. It’s a series, and really, you can’t and shouldn’t see book 3 as a standalone. Go back and begin with Go Home, Afton. (These are short–you’ll catch up!)

The Afton Morrison Series by Brent Jones

I was sent this ebook novella download by the author and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. You should begin with book 1 to get the complete fleshing of Afton. This series is recommended for any who enjoy a dark plot, graphic situations, crime, adrenaline-inducing action, mystery, and suspense.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars Four of Five Stars

author Brent JonesThe Author: From bad checks to bathroom graffiti, Brent Jones has always been drawn to writing. He won a national creative writing competition at the age of fourteen, although he can’t recall what the story was about. Seventeen years later, he gave up his career to pursue creative writing full-time.

Jones writes from his home in Fort Erie, Canada. He’s happily married, a bearded cyclist, a mediocre guitarist, and the proud owner of two dogs with a God complex. Subscribe to his newsletter (AuthorBrentJones.com) or follow him on social media (@AuthorBrentJ) for updates.

©2018 V Williams V Williams

Killed in Action – a Book Review

Killed in Action by Michael SloanTitle: Killed in Action: An Equalizer Novel by Michael Sloan

Genre: Currently #1035 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Thrillers & Suspense, Crime, Vigilante Justice

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: January 30, 2018

Source: St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Killed in Action – Both the book cover and Kindle cover illustrate theme

Robert McCall, formerly deep-cover intelligence officer, is very busy doing good work. He is the one called when there is absolutely, positively nothing else that can be done. Nevertheless, he comes cheap–he doesn’t charge. (I’ve no clue how the man lives since he is no longer with The Company.) His expertise is spread by word-of-mouth and former colleagues, all of whom know the man’s strengths and contacts and just how very good he is. He calls himself “the Equalizer.” Continue reading “Killed in Action – a Book Review”

The Undertaker – a Book Review

The Undertaker by William F BrownTitle: The Undertaker by William F Brown (A Pete and Sandy Mystery Thriller)

Genre: Currently #710 in Best Seller’s Rank in Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Thrillers & Suspense, Crime, Vigilante Justice

Publisher: William F Brown

Publication Date: January 2014

Source: Sent by author for review

The Undertaker – Cover catches the eye and more than hints at a scalpel

Not the first William F Brown thriller I’ve read and won’t be the last! The Undertaker starts a new series featuring Peter Talbot and Sandy, the latter of whom manages to overcome Peter’s year long grieving process for his late wife, Terri. Terri died of cancer and it has all but killed Peter as well, turning him into a robot, going through life mechanically–unemotionally. Continue reading “The Undertaker – a Book Review”