Anne Bonny #BookReview Sins As Scarlet by @NicObregon 5* #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #AmericanNoir ‘The novel is timely, accurate and raises awareness of the dangers the trans community face’

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Sins As Scarlet by Nicolas Obregon
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Former homicide detective Kosuke Iwata is on the run from his past . . .

Five years ago, he lost his family. Now he may have found his redemption.

Living in LA and working as a private detective, he spends his days spying on unfaithful spouses and his nights with an unavailable woman.

Still he cannot forget the family he lost in Tokyo.

But that all changes when a figure from his old life appears at his door demanding his help.

Meredith Nichol, a transgender woman and his wife’s sister, has been found strangled on the lonely train tracks behind Skid Row.

Soon he discovers that the devil is at play in the City of Angels and Meredith’s death wasn’t the hate crime the police believe it to be. Iwata knows that risking his life and future is the only way to silence the demons of his past.

Reluctantly throwing himself back in to the dangerous existence he only just escaped, Iwata discovers a seedy world of corruption, exploitation and murder – and a river of sin flowing through LA’s underbelly, Mexico’s dusty borderlands and deep within his own past.

My Review:

I am a huge fan of diverse novels and you don’t really get many more diverse than Sins As Scarlet. It features a variety of characters from all walks of life and differing cultures. The victim in the novel is a transgender woman and Inspector Kosuke Iwata is determined to solve the case.

The novel opens on the Mexican – USA border. A pregnant woman is fleeing, and she has sustained violent injuries. The truck is gaining on her as she recites a Spanish prayer. . .

‘Most sacred heart of Jesus, I accept from your hands whatever death may please you to send me into this night’

The United States border patrol are the figures that have given chase. With another unidentified male, making his escape. They murder the pregnant female and it is at this instance I knew, things were not as they seem at the border.
This novel was going to be very dark indeed.

Kosuke Iwata is a second-generation Japanese American citizen. He currently lives in Torrance in California. Iwata’s past is fully explored within the novel. He has known considerable emotional pain. Both in his childhood and adult life. He works as a private investigator, when he is asked to take a case by Kate Floccari (state prosecutor) with regards to her husband potentially cheating on her. Iwata relinquished his own police career in Japan and has never attempted to join the police forces in the USA.

‘He figured tomorrow would just be another day, another case’

90K people go missing in LA each year!
As the novel takes you around Los Angeles, the author does an impressive job of describing the various communities.
From the poverty of Skid Row to the wealthy untouchables.

Iwata is alone in his office when he is accosted by his mother in law, Charlotte Nichol. Iwata’s wife died previously, and Charlotte asks for his help to find the killer of her only surviving child. What makes the case so unique is that Charlotte’s son Julian had transitioned gender and was living as Meredith. Meredith was murdered two weeks ago, and the police have shown little to no interest.

‘I won’t ever forgive you for what you did to Cleo. But maybe you can still do some good in this world’

It is widely known that transgender women are at an extremely high risk of being the victim of violent crime. Although this is widely known and an issue globally. Little is done in the way of preventative measures and ensuring the safety of transgender women. In fact, 45% of hate crime victims are transgender women and sadly the statistics reflect and upward trend in the crime. The novel is timely, accurate and raises awareness of the dangers the trans community face.

Iwata attempts to gather information from LAPD cop detective Joseph Avery Silke. But has little success. The cops are simply not interested.

‘Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and 50 cents for your soul’ – Marilyn Monroe

Iwata has a contact in LAPD records and information, Earnell McCrae, who owes him a favour. He soon finds he has access to the police file and it does not look good. Meredith was living at Skid Row, she was a known prostitute and drug user. She was strangled on some train tracks and found by a homeless man. She had, what appears to be injuries of a sexual nature, but were they part of the murder? Or a sexual encounter? Did a punter discover her male genitalia and Meredith paid with her life?

Something happened to Meredith and Iwata finds his new case, also a quest for redemption. He begins his investigation by speaking to customers and staff at the various Latino exotic dancing bars. He learns of Meredith’s lover ‘Talky’ and friend Genevieve. He has little to go on and decides to research similar cases.

‘I know whoever killed Meredith is still out there. And I don’t think he’s finished’

Iwata uncovers a spate of local murders of transgender women. With five women dead and only one solved case. All except one, strangled. Is someone murdering transwomen? Do they make the perfect victim to a sexual predator?

‘There was a man with a garrotte and a taste for transgender women’

Iwata can’t get Meredith’s plight out of his head. The people he encounters at Skid row, stay with him long after he has left. The homeless, destitute, disabled, mentally ill and undocumented. They are the marginalised, vulnerable and undesired in society.

‘Meredith had moved a thousand miles to be herself. He wondered is she died for it too’

When Iwata attempts to contact the trans community he is met with a wall of silence. He hears of a trick rumoured to kill trans women, but rumour soon becomes urban legend. What he does uncover is a community of people, often rejected by their families and loved ones, forced to live on the fringes of society.

The novel is deeply layered and very intelligent. The author has done an outstanding job of describing the locations mentioned in the novel. The characters come alive on the page. You get a real sense of the struggles the trans community face and risk of violence in their daily lives. It appears to me that vulnerability and exploitation go hand in hand.

‘The devil is on every street corner in this place’

The novel has a brilliant ending and I can not wait for the next in the series. 5*

NO
Nicolas Obregon
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Rose Gold by Walter Mosley 5* #EasyRawlins #Series 1960s LA @wnbooks ‘I am a HUGE fan of Walter Mosley’s writing style and he provides the most AMAZING book quotes. His writing is informative, intriguing and genius!’

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Rose Gold by Walter Mosley ~ Easy Rawlins #13
My own copy
Synopsis:

When four armed policemen turn up at Easy Rawlins’s door, he thinks he’s in trouble. He is.

They want him to find Rosemary Goldsmith, the daughter of a millionaire arms dealer. And Easy can’t afford to say no.

The LAPD think she’s with Bob Mantle, a black boxer turned radical. Has she been kidnapped? Is she colluding? When Easy is almost gunned down on his first day on the case, he realises he’ll need more than wits to find Rose Gold.

My Review:

I hit a reading slump and was desperate to read one of my author favourites to pull me out. So I decided to order the last two novels in the Easy Rawlins series, that I haven’t read yet!
I am a HUGE fan of Walter Mosley’s writing style and he provides the most AMAZING book quotes. His writing is informative, intriguing and genius!

Another thing I love about this specific series, is being able to step into Easy’s shoes and see life through his eyes. After all, how else am I going to experience being an African American male in 1967?

The novel opens on moving day, four white armed men appear at Easy’s new address. Easy instantly becomes alert and apprehensive about what they want?
They require his assistance with a particularly sensitive case. A missing person’s case, but no simple ordinary case by any means. Rosemary Goldsmith is the daughter of a billionaire arms dealer. The detectives are unclear whether Rosemary is involved in her own abduction, hence the need to keep this case of the legit records.

Easy is offered $80K for the missing person’s case and $25K upon completion. Easy maybe many things, but stupid ain’t one of them. He is immediately aware that this case must have some serious danger attached.
But like most PI’s he can’t resist the lure of an intriguing case.

Within the novel we are reunited with various characters from the series. The novel does explore and update readers on Easy’s children and best friend Mouse. But the series, really is best read from the beginning, to fully appreciate these characters and their relationships with Easy.

Back to the case, Rosemary is a student at UC Santa Barbara university and has been rumoured to have become friendly with known radical ‘battling Bob Mantle’. Before Easy can even get remotely close to Bob Mantle’s gym, he has his windshield shot out and police harass easy the victim of the crime.

The only cop Easy trusts is Detective Melvin Suggs, who is currently on leave. Easy recruits him to help on the case in exchange for helping Suggs with his recent suspension from the police force. This is where the novel takes a unique spin. Mouse is not as involved in this novel, his character sits it out, as such.
But it doesn’t take from the enjoyment of the novel at all.

This is complex mystery with political themes. There are spin-off stories which add extra depth. I cannot wait to read the next in the series Charcoal Joe. 5*

To fully appreciate the exceptional writing of Walter Mosley, I have left my usual quotes to the end of my review. I guess I am leaving them open to the readers interpretation, as does the author himself.

‘No amount of silver could buy the passions in an aging man’s heart’

‘You know the only thing worse in their books than a black mother is the white mother of a negro child’

‘Innocence was rarely a key factor for justice in the world Bob and I inhabited’

WM
Walter Mosley
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Her Mother’s Grave by @Lisalregan #JosieQuinn #3 #CrimeFiction #NewRelease @bookouture ‘The novel builds and builds to one hell of an ending! 5*’

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Her Mother’s Grave by Lisa Regan – Detective Josie Quinn #3
Review Copy
Synopsis:

When two young boys discover human bones buried beneath a tree in a trailer park, Detective Josie Quinn races to join her team at the scene. She used to play in those woods as a child, happier outside and away from her abusive mother, Belinda Rose.

Josie’s past crashes into her present when a rare dental condition confirms the bones belong to a teenage foster-child who was murdered thirty years ago.
A girl named Belinda Rose…

Josie hasn’t seen her mother in years but, with an undeniable connection between her mother and the dead girl, does she dare track her down?

Just as Josie gets closer to uncovering a secret that will shatter her world forever, another body is uncovered. It’s suddenly clear that someone very close to Josie will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried forever.

As she battles the demons from her past, can Josie stop this killer before another precious life is taken?

My Review:

I have read the two previous novels in the Detective Josie Quinn series. But I am absolutely blown away by this latest edition. This novel focuses heavily on Josie who she is and what shaped the woman she is today. Her childhood makes for horrifying reading, it is the stuff of nightmares. The discovery of human remains at a local trailer park has a direct link to Josie’s past. It will come to shake the very foundations of her being.

In the opening scenes we are reunited with Harris Quinn (6 months old). He is the child born to Josie’s ex-husband and mistress Misty. Josie has found herself almost as best friend and support system for Misty and knowing their troubled history, it is quite touching to see.

Josie is also dealing with personal harassment, a series of craigslist adverts, have her the butt of a serious of malicious and bizarre phone calls.
Is this a prank? Or something much more sinister?

Josie as Chief of Denton police attend the crime scene at Moss Green trailer park. A place she knows all to well from her own horrific childhood. Dr Feist is at the scene with the skeletal remains. He estimates the remains to be 16-19yrs of age and notes they are wearing 1980s attire. He also notes an unusual finding of hyperdontia (supernumerary teeth). Who is this girl? Can the police force track her down?

The present-day narrative has alternate chapters with Josie’s own childhood. We become aware her mother frequently abuses alcohol and drugs. She is vicious in her treatment of Josie and Josie’s only one place of sanctuary is her Gram’s house.

When the human remains are identified as Belinda Rose. This throws up more questions than answers. For that is the name and date of birth Josie’s estranged mother has been using, all of Josie’s life.
So, who killed Belinda Rose? And why did Josie’s mother steal her identity?

The novel is fast-paced and intense. The chapters regarding Josie’s own childhood are raw and painful. The present-day mystery becomes more and more complex with every turn of the page. The novel builds and builds to one hell of an ending! 5*

LR
Lisa Regan
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***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour***
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Man I Think I know by @mikegayle 5* #Literary @HodderBooks ‘This novel isn’t just about emotion. It actively challenges the view of disability and personal struggle’

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The Man I Think I Know by Mike Gayle
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Ever since The Incident, James DeWitt has stayed on the safe side.

He likes to know what happens next.

Danny Allen is not on the safe side. He is more past the point of no return.

The past is about to catch up with both of them in a way that which will change their lives forever, unexpectedly.

But redemption can come in the most unlikely ways.

My Review:

I actually got completely and utterly confused in the synopsis of this novel. I thought it was a modern-day version of Patrick Gale’s A Place Called Winter. I wrongly assumed it was a story of romance between James and Danny. It is not!
That’s not to say, it isn’t just as beautiful and emotive in it’s creation.
The novel focuses on the friendship between Danny and James.
Which is a tender, moving and inspiring story.

‘Some people are simply beyond redemption or salvation or whatever, some of us are simply stuck being what we are’ – Danny

The novel opens to Danny getting the upsetting news that his dole is about to be stopped. He lives with his girlfriend Maya, whom he knows will be furious to discover this. Danny is 36yrs old and appears to have simply given up with life. He applies for a position at Four Oaks residential & respite home. He doesn’t do this to improve the lives of others, but simply to find easy and quick employment. He has no idea, how this choice will have a massive impact upon his life.

James is also 36yrs old, he is learning to adapt his lifestyle due to a savage and brutal attack. James was once a wealthy and privileged property develop. He was celebrating being elected as Labour MP for Birmingham South, when he was viciously assaulted. The attack left him with life-changing disabilities. He lives with his parents and enters the respite centre, so that his parents can enjoy a three-week cruise.
It has been three years since the incident that changed his life. Since the incident James has lived a life of ‘playing it safe’ which by my interpretation is surviving not living.

‘Ever since the incident the safe side is all I get to know’ – James

James arrives at Four Oaks and instantly recognises Danny from his past. But James memory is not always to be trusted, due to his acquired brain injury. Danny denies knowing who James is, which leaves James feeling even more confused and convinced that he knows Danny.

The author has written a thoroughly accurate description of a care home. My previous career was not only working in care homes but as management too. I have cared for individuals with acquired brain injuries and their level of needs is extremely complex and individual. Similarly, to dementia, no person is impacted exactly the same and the symptoms vary person to person. The author has done an outstanding level of research and paid attention to the details. I am MASSIVELY impressed.

Danny eventually admits the truth, that he does know how James is. It turns out the two attended the same prestigious boarding school. Danny was attending on scholarship and his intelligence was renowned. Which is why James is confused as to how/why Danny ended up as a carer. But just like James, Danny has a complex backstory too.

‘I just want to be normal’ – James

The two form a friendship based around James’s desire to live as independently as possible and Danny’s attempt at some form of redemption. What flows is a gentle and emotive novel. There are parts that are emotionally charged. One specific part is Martha’s letter, at that precise moment, I just dissolved into tears.

This novel isn’t just about emotion. It actively challenges the view of disability and personal struggle.

Simply beautiful 5*

MG
Mike Gayle
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Anne Bonny #NonFiction #BookReview Betrayal – The crisis In The Catholic Church 5* #Spotlight #BostonGlobe

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Betrayal – The crisis In The Catholic Church by The investigative staff of the Boston Globe
My own copy
Synopsis:

THE BOOK WHICH INSPIRED SPOTLIGHT, 2016 WINNER OF THE BEST PICTURE OSCAR AND THE BEST SCREENPLAY OSCAR

This is the true story of how a small group of courageous journalists uncovered child abuse on a vast scale – and held the Catholic Church to account. Betrayal is a ground-breaking work of investigative journalism, now brought brilliantly to life on the screen in the major new movie Spotlight.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

On 31 January 2002, the Boston Globe published a report that sent shockwaves around the world. Their findings, based on a six-month campaign by the ‘Spotlight’ investigative team, showed that hundreds of children in Boston had been abused by Catholic priests, and that this horrific pattern of behaviour had been known – and ignored – by the Catholic Church. Instead of protecting the community it was meant to serve, the Church exploited its powerful influence to protect itself from scandal – and innocent children paid the price.

This is the story from beginning to end: the predatory men who exploited the vulnerable, the cabal of senior Church officials who covered up their crimes, the ‘hush money’ used to buy the victims’ silence, the survivors who found the strength to tell their story, and the Catholics across the world who were left shocked, angry, and betrayed. This is the story, too, of how they took power back, confronted their Church and called for sweeping change.

Updated for the release of the Oscar-winning film Spotlight, this is a devastating and important exposure of the abuse of power at the highest levels in society.

My Review:

I originally bought this book for myself and my brother. My little brother is a (soon to be) third year journalism student. I was keen to understand, what goes on behind the scenes in investigative journalism. I had also already previously seen the Hollywood movie Spotlight. I was looking for the extra depth that could have been missed in a movie adaption.
What I found within the pages of this book, shook me to the core.

The investigation began at the Boston Globe under editor Walter V Robinson. The primary reporters were Matt Carroll, Sacha Pfeiffer and Michael Rezendes. Although many more reporters would later join the cause. The original investigation was to look into the actions of Rev John J Geoghan’s crimes.
Was this a one-off or a pattern of behaviour?

What the team uncovered was multiple claims, some financially settled. They also uncovered records either missing or legally sealed.
They began by attempting to unseal Geogahn’s papers.

‘The documents proved that the Archdiocese had known of Geoghan’s abuse of children for generations’

Yes, It took me a moment to digest that word too, GENERATIONS! Not days, weeks or months which would also be unforgivable, but generations.
The Globe ran a piece, which covered 70 priests that can been accused and had financially settled cases.

‘The abuse was widespread and had gone unchecked for decades’

A further four reporters were added to the team Stephen Kurkjian, Thomas Farragher, Kevin Cullen and regional reporter Michael Paulson. This was due to the huge-scale of the investigation and pattern of systemic abuse.

The book covers various angles of the investigation.
The origins and its causes.
The behaviour of abusive priests.
Impact on victims.
Role of key figures.
How the Catholic church might change as a result.

It is clear to see the Globe intended to get to the bottom of these cases and fully involve victims in the process of the journey. With 176 priests accused across the USA alone in just the first four months of expose in 2002. The team were going to have their work cut out. They also faced opposition from the church and had to bear in mind that of Boston’s 3.8 million population, 2 million identify as catholic. It would be a scandal that would surely rock Boston. Eventually it was a scandal, that rocked the entire Catholic faith across the world.

‘Nowhere else was the impact of the scandal more deeply felt. And nowhere else was the erosion of deference traditionally shown the church more dramatic’

The churches initial reaction of ‘damage limitation’ actively put abusers back into circulation. Allowing them to move freely around prominent positions within the community and allowing them so amass victims on a monumental scale.
Early on, the expose led to resignations in France, Wales, Poland and Ireland.

Geoghan himself at this point was known to have nearly 200 victims. So nonchalant, he would openly describe how he picked his victims. He began by targeting predominantly boys from poverty and single parent homes. He would appear to offer the mother ‘help’ by taking the young boys out for ice-cream or bathing them before bed. This gave him opportunity to abuse. The cover-up would involve politicians, police, prosecutors and judges. With the statute of limitations also being a hinder to the pursuit of justice.

‘If there are any heroes in this squalid tale, they are the victims, who found their voice, who found their courage, after years of suffering in silence and isolation, to step into the light and say, as one did “This happened to me, and this is wrong”‘

The book does detail individual stories from survivors of the abuse. We hear from one of the mother’s who’s four sons were abused. Hearing her repeat their admissions to her, was heart breaking reading. Even through the pages of a novel, reading many years after the scandal broke. The pain is raw and real, every single word of it.

If/when the mother’s found the courage to speak out about the abuse. Whether it be approaching other priests or bishops. The blame was often shifted to them, they were openly reminded that such accusations could ruin the priests career. This enabled the priests to hide behind their roman collars and evade justice.

‘Do you realise what you’re taking from him?’ – Bishop Thomas to Maryetta Dussourd (mother of victims)

The victim blaming, and family shaming continued in multiple cases. Meanwhile, sensing his future maybe bleak, Geoghan began to protect his own assets. Signing over properties worth millions of dollars, for just a few dollars to his sister.
Geoghan would also go one further, and play the victim himself. Insisting his actions made him ill, not a criminal.
Geoghan was beyond shame and accountability.

‘Shame, embarrassment, and sometimes, warnings by their abusers kept many victims from disclosing the abuse. Others confided in family members who found it difficult to believe them’

The house of affirmation in Massachusetts, was a facility for sexually abusive priests. It was ran by Rev Thomas Kane. But priests received little in the form of psychoanalyse and treatment. What the investigation uncovered was that the ‘treatment centres’ enabled priests to just hide in luxury compared to the jail cells they should have faced.

As the book details various decades and multiple cases, it is hard to review and summarise. But in 1984 the catholic church paid out $4.2 million to nine of Father Gauther’s victims. One victim was so viciously raped he was hospitalised. Gauther would eventually face criminal charges, unlike so many others. He was sentenced to 20yrs, served 10yrs and upon release abused another boy.

One thing that is clear throughout the book, is that instead of tackling the root cause of the issue and seeking justice. The church was content to continue to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars as financial settlements. Whilst allowing abusers to continue in posts, with access to more victims.
What struck me about this, wasn’t the victim’s right to financial compensation. That I fully agree with.
But the arrogance of the church to utilise funds intended for charity etc, to cover-up abuse and legally tie the hands/voices of the accuser. As each settlement required a non-disclosure signature.
The priests continued to abuse, the church continued to pay. With zero regard for the mental/emotional impact on the victims and future victims.
The pay-outs would occur before legal suits were filed, meaning no public record. They also contained gag-order’s or the payments must be returned.

In one particular case, Father Porter a serial child abuser of over 100+ victims over 14yrs. Was caught in the physical act by two fellow reverends; as two victims confirmed.
Yet no action was ever taken.

‘In the past 15yrs 1500 American priests faced allegations of sexual abuse’

In the section entitled Predators, the investigation breaks down the various methods established and utilised by different priests. Rev Paul R Shanley was a popular priest that challenged church teachings on homosexuality. He openly embraced ostracised members of the community. He was known as the ‘street priest’ the cool ‘hippie priest’. His ‘therapy’ sessions often involved molestation and rape. When confronted with the victim’s accusations. He would hide behind the tired old excuse that ‘the child is often the seducer’. Shanley would go on to teach teens how to inject drugs, possibly just to enable further abuse. Shanley would go on to evade justice until he was 71yrs old.

I found various chapters difficult to read. Especially the nonchalant attitudes of the priests. Which equally led me to question the severity of the impact upon victims. In the chapter entitled The Victims, you hear their stories of anger, denial, rage, shame, loss of faith, guilt and self-doubt.

‘He took everything. He took my innocence. He took my spirituality, he took my purity’
Thomas J Lambert (victim)

For victim Patricia Dolan the abuse dominated her entire adult life. Patrick McSorley (Geoghan’s victim) fully aware of what made him an easy target for abuse (alcoholic father’s suicide) would go on to be extremely protective of his own children. Armand Landy (86yrs old) can still recall the abuse suffered at just 12yrs old in 1927. One victim would shoot their abuser and there were multiple suicides.
The pain of abuse never left the victims.

The explosion of the scandal would lead to 176 priests over 28 states of the USA to resign or be removed from their post. In just 20yrs the scandal had cost the church $1.3 Billion.

‘What they were protecting was their notion that the church is a perfect society’

The investigation details how the public outrage at the scandal, broke down barriers and centuries of the church’s deference in just mere weeks. Whilst some legal professionals were prepared to give the church the benefit of the doubt. Others were not; and Judge Constance M Sweeney ordered the release of ten thousand pages of documents, declaring them public record.
The public were outraged at the church’s failure to see the children as victims of despicable crimes.

‘We throw this word ‘abuse’ around, and it’s nice, inoffensive word.
They were raping children. Where’s the indignation? Where’s the moral outrage?’
The investigation slowly began to force change in the system. Force the church to face up to its own hypocrisy.

‘Maybe to them, the victims are nameless and faceless. The victims are real to me’
Jeanine Pirro – DA Westchester county

The hypocrisy of the church is further explored, when detailing the case of a 72yr old nun fired and ostracised for performing a baptism. The $50 million over 25yrs spent on ‘treatment’ for abusive priests.
The title of this novel ‘Catholicism in crisis’ couldn’t be more apt.

‘We need more women. The power, and male dominance, and the secrecy are how this whole thing started’

Bonnie Ciambotti – Eucharistic minister.
There is a documents section, at the back of the book. Which enables you to view the previously sealed court papers.
This is a tough read, at times brutal. But unless we read it, digest the information and learn, how do we not continue to make the same mistakes? 5*

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