A Mother’s Lie by Jo Crow – a #BookReview by the Vicarious Blogger

” When her child’s life is at stake, a mother will do anything to save him.”

“A shocking psychological thriller with a breathtaking twist that will keep you up at night.”

Book Blurb:

A Mother's Lie by Jo CrowClara McNair is running out of time to save her son, James. When the two-year-old is diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, only an experimental treatment can save his life. She desperately needs money to pay for the surgery, but she’ll have to travel back to the site of her darkest memories to get it.

Clara has escaped the demons of her youth—or so she thinks. It’s been ten years since the mysterious disappearance of her parents. Widely suspected of murdering her mother and father, Clara fled west to start a new life. Now, a documentary film crew is offering cold, hard cash—enough to pay for James’s treatment—in exchange for the sordid secrets of her past.

With no other choice but to delve into a long-ago tragedy, Clara must unravel the lies surrounding that terrible night. Facing hostile gossip, Clara is fighting to clear her name and learn the truth about what really happened. But how far will she go into the dark to save her son—and herself?

NOTE: Books in the ‘Secrets of Suburbia’ Series can be read as standalones, but are linked by common themes of motherhood, suburbia not being as safe as you think, and how the perfect, sanitized version of life that people often show is far from the truth. Gripping stories with shocking twists just a click away.

His Thoughts:

Keep your friends close and your enemy closer. Sometimes the two are difficult to differentiate. Jo Crow has written a story reminiscent of Town Without Pity. The town, Hickory Hills, North Carolina, seems to fit the title of a town without pity. Everywhere the protagonist Clair McNair goes she is met with anger and hatred. I found it difficult to understand why a town would be so aggressive towards a young mother.

A Mother's Lie by Jo CrowClair has a young son with a rare disease that can only be treated with an experimental drug. The cost is very expensive and the only way to get enough money to afford the treatment is by doing a documentary about the death of her parents. Returning to Hickory Hills after ten years, the disgust for her is palatable. She has a high school friend named Amanda who stands by her and helps watch her son while she assists in filming the documentary that will provide funds for the treatment.

The local detective Elkins has concluded that she is the killer of her parents and his job is to prove it. He is vitriolic and has no compassion for a young woman who he “knows” has killed her parents. The killing was done in a particularly brutal manner. Remarkably, some of the bones show up behind a shed on her father’s property after she returns to town. It would seem the detective should have questioned this as the place the bones were found was thoroughly searched ten years ago.

Questioning the investigative procedures of Detective Elkins and his blatant disregard for proper forensics rankled me. I confess I took an immediate dislike for this character and his methodology.  Events continue to happen to Claire through the entire book that surely would have made a good detective question why. However, this author skillfully avoided the issue and let the detective doggedly pursue his pre-ascertained verdict.

Twists and turns build suspense throughout this tale. Jo Crow masterfully exposes a surprising end plot. Who was causing all of the turmoil and danger for Claire? Meanwhile, her son is getting sicker every day and she needs to rely upon her few friends to allow her to make the documentary. CE Williams

A twist at the end is a classic maneuver totally unexpected! Read this well-crafted novel and discover the duplicity at the climax. The book builds tension and will not disappoint! C.E. Williams Free from Bookbub

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 Book Details:

Genre: Vigilante Justice Thrillers, Suspense Action Fiction, Women’s Crime Fiction

  • ISBN-10:1979295425
  • ISBN-13:978-1979295420
  • ASIN: B077VVN43Z

Print Length: 442 pages
Publication Date: December 1, 2017
Source: BookBub
Title Link: A Mother’s Lie [Amazon]

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Jo Crow - authorThe Author: Jo Crow gave ten years of her life to the corporate world of finance, rising to be one of the youngest VPs around. She carved writing time into her commute to the city, but never shared her stories, assuming they were too dark for any publishing house. But when a nosy publishing exec read the initial pages of her latest story over her shoulder, his albeit unsolicited advice made her think twice.

A month later, she took the leap, quit her job, and sat down for weeks with pen to paper. The words for her first manuscript just flew from her. Now she spends her days reading and writing, dreaming up new ideas for domestic noir fans, and drawing from her own experiences in the cut-throat commercial sector.

Not one to look back, Jo is all in, and can’t wait for her next book to begin.

Visit http://www.JoCrow.com to join her mailing list.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Out of Her Mind (Sawyer Brooks Book 2) by T R Ragan – a #BookReview – #psychologicalthriller

Book Blurb:

Out of Her Mind by T R RaganA string of copycat crimes leads a reporter down a terrifying path in a heart-stopping thriller by New York Times bestselling author T.R. Ragan.

Crime reporter Sawyer Brooks still grieves for the family she and her two sisters never had. Raised in a house of horrors, they continue to fight through the trauma—releasing their rage by seeking justice for those who are just as vulnerable as they were.

When a little girl’s bones are unearthed in Sacramento’s Land Park and twelve-year-old Riley Addison disappears, solving these cases becomes an obsession for Sawyer—one that puts her job at risk. Yet she can’t turn back, and the deeper Sawyer’s investigation goes, the darker it gets. A psychopath is on the loose and has been trolling Sacramento for years—hiding in plain sight behind a motherly facade.

The more Sawyer persists, the closer she gets to a disturbing place reminiscent of her own terrorized childhood. With time running out, Sawyer will risk anything to save Riley from the dark. But the killer will do anything to keep her there.

My Review:

Out of Her Mind by T R RaganSawyer Brooks is one of three sisters, all of whom had a singularly abusive childhood. She is still dealing with touch issues among others, but has made a reputation for herself as being a focused investigative crime reporter for the Sacramento Independent. In this issue, her sister Aria joins in the investigation of a missing girl from the area, which they quickly ascertain is one of several over the years. Riley Addison is around eleven and not a runaway.

In a sub-plot apparently brought forward from Book 1, there is a female vigilante group dubbed the “Black Wigs” operating in the Sacramento area caught on video. The group is targeting men accused of sexual crimes. Unfortunately, they’ve had a few problems executing their plans that would appear is beginning to cause a serious rift between the five members. Nevertheless, they proceed with the next target.

Dialogue is taut and leading. Forget trying to solve it yourself. Just enjoy the storyline and let it take you where you need to go–with a few little twists along the way. Sawyer is a damaged protagonist. She has depth, a pit bull when she’s doggedly trying to uncover the story, but she has additional issues. She can be impatient and compulsive. It’s good she has a supportive boss because the local police detective can’t work on hunches. He wants proof and is increasingly tired of her unsolicited input.

Short chapters, each of which ramps up the tension until it becomes stressful. You can’t put it down NOW! Can she find the little girl before it’s too late? The antagonist is certifiable. The loose threads she holds are becoming frayed with the little girl’s attitude.

I have to admit–I didn’t catch Book 1 of this series. (I know you’re surprised to see that.) I have, however, read two of her Jessie Cole series. (See links below.) Of course, I recognized the author, but was also attracted by this book’s locale–we lived there over forty years. The author’s dark writing style will get into your head and twist. Her novels are compelling, tight, well-plotted, and fast-paced. I love strong, independent, and intelligent female protagonists and if I had a quibble, it would be the (trigger warning) abusive background. Again. Still, it’s a narrative that doesn’t slow, doesn’t disappoint, and sets you up for Book 3 of a scheduled trilogy. I must know how those two themes being forwarded will pan out.

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Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Vigilante Justice, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: 1542093902
ASIN: B084FVY89J
Print Length: 285 pages
Publication Date: November 22, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

T R Ragan - authorThe Author: T.R. Ragan (Theresa Ragan) has sold over three million books and is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling mystery and thriller author.

Readers interested in signing up for a monthly newsletter or getting their name in a TR RAGAN book should check out her website at http://www.trragan.com

Facebook * Twitter * Instagram: @trraganauthor

LIZZY GARDNER SERIES
Abducted
Dead Weight
A Dark Mind
Obsessed
Almost Dead
Evil Never Dies

FAITH MCMANN TRILOGY
Furious
Outrage
Wrath

JESSIE COLE SERIES
Her Last Day (My 4.5 star review here)
Deadly Recall
Deranged
Buried Deep (My 5 star review here)

SAWYER BROOKS SERIES
Don’t Make a Sound – 6/20
Out of Her Mind – 11/20

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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)
Barnes and Noble

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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

The Poison of War by Jennifer Leeper – a CE #BookReview – Two-Hour #mysterythriller

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

The Poison of War by Jennifer LeeperBook Blurb:

Two Mexican drug smugglers are murdered on Native American soil and the only clues left behind are two single arrowheads in this compelling page-turner of tribal secrets and distrust at the border.

When detective Frank Silva of the Tohono O’odham Nation arrived at the scene of the crime he immediately feared his investigation would require him to turn inward—to his own people—in search of the killer.

A complex web of lies, love and intrigue in the heart of the reservation pulls readers into a place and time in limbo straddling the U.S.-Mexican border which is struggling to retain its heritage and independence.

Two maverick detectives form an intriguing team trusting each other with not only their lives, but with the fate of the Tohono O’odham Nation in the crime mystery.

The Poison of War, from award-winning author Jennifer Leeper, highlights the Tohono O’odham reservation’s evolving struggle against Mexican cartels and their friction with border agents who hold the line stretching across the middle of the reservation.

The novella’s setting of the American Southwest, particularly on a Native American reservation, and the style and cultural background of the detective protagonist draw resemblances to Tony Hillerman’s works including Dance Hall of the Dead and The Blessing Way.

For fans of Leeper’s work and fortuitous newcomers, The Poison of War is a stunning tale that highlights timely issues of the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration, drug trafficking and the reservation culture of the Tohono O’odham tribe.

His Review:

The Poison of War by Jennifer LeeperSolving two murders with old technology in the desert southwest is not easy. The native people in this area have lived here for centuries. There were no borders that defined their nation until recently. Jennifer pulls together the problem of drug running across native ancestral lands with no regard to the culture and the people who live there.

Frank Silva is a half-breed who is charged with protecting the land and solving a double murder.
A defunct “Indian Casino” is a beacon for the transfer of illegal drugs. The drug runners are ruthless.

In a land of cacti and wildflowers where does the detective begin? Jennifer pulls the narrative together in a very exciting way. Even footprints do not show up in this desolate landscape. And yet the crime has to be solved.
The result is a masterfully devised series of steps taken to finally find the killer. The narrative is fast-moving and never drags. It is a mystery lovers’ handbook for solving crime in the most desolate areas in the Southwest United States.

We received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I can heartily recommend.

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Book Details:

Genre: Native American Literature, Two-Hour Mystery-Thriller-Suspense, Vigilante Justice
Publisher: Prensa Press

  • ISBN-10:1733240209
  • ISBN-13:978-1733240208
  • ASIN: B081BB1HRK

Print Length: 67 pages
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Poison of War

Jennifer Leeper - authorThe Author: Jennifer Leeper is an award-winning fiction author whose previous or forthcoming publications credits include Independent Ink Magazine, The Stone Hobo, Poiesis, Every Day Fiction, Aphelion Webzine, Heater Magazine, Cowboy Jamboree, The New Engagement, Alaska Quarterly Review, Falling Star Magazine and The Liguorian. She has had works published by J. Burrage Publications, Hen House Press, Inwood Indiana Press, Alternating Current Press, Barking Rain Press, Whispering Prairie Press, and Spider Road Press.
Ms. Leeper’s novella, The Poison of War, published through Prensa Press, spotlights the landscape of the American Southwest and Native American culture through this murder mystery that brings to the fore timely issues of the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration, drug trafficking and the reservation culture of the Tohono O’odham tribe of southern Arizona. The region carries special meaning for Ms. Leeper as she lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a child and even though she currently lives in Kansas City, the spirit of the Southwest region continues to shape her writing.

CE Williams - co-reviewer

#ThrowbackThursday – Author Oak Anderson – Book Review

#ThrowbackThursday on It's Book Life blogRenee began the Throwback Thursday meme on her blog, “It’s Book Talk” to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books published over a year ago. Sounded like a good reason to join! My TT posts will not come from current ARCs or new releases. Means I’ll be going back over some of my oldies but goodies, my favorite authors, and some of my favorite stories from authors you might not have previously experienced. Hopefully, you’ll find either a story or author that interests you and you’ll check them out.

This week I am highlighting another terrific Amazon #1 bestselling author, Oak Anderson. Mr. Anderson came up with a unique premise; at least it certainly was to me back in 2014 when I read Take One With You. He has since released About Face: TOWY Episode #1 (Take One With You), a short story, May 1, 2015.

Originally posted July 29, 2014

Book Blurb: “Charlie and Sarah, two disaffected teens dealing with depression, meet in an online chatroom and soon hatch a plan to bring meaning to their lives by encouraging other despondent individuals to help eradicate the “scum of society”, such as pedophiles and rapists who have escaped justice. Anyone determined to commit suicide is urged to first kill someone who “got away with it” before taking their own life. Why not, they ask, “take one with you?”…. “Take One With You is a unique crime thriller/millennial love story that poses the question: If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, would you kill someone tonight? Someone who had done something terrible. Someone who deserved to die. If so, who would it be? If you wouldn’t go that far, what about your neighbor? Your friend? Your enemy? Who draws the line? Who decides who lives and who dies? And what if we all began to take justice into our own hands?” Continue reading “#ThrowbackThursday – Author Oak Anderson – Book Review”