Anne Bonny #BookReview The Guardians by John Grisham 4.5* #Legal #Thriller #NewRelease @JohnGrisham @HodderBooks @HodderFiction @HodderPublicity

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The Guardians by John Grisham
My Own Copy ~ Hardback book
Synopsis ~

He was framed for murder.
Now he needs a miracle.

22 years ago Quincy Miller was sentenced to life without parole. He was accused of killing Keith Russo, a lawyer in a small Florida town. But there were no reliable witnesses and little motive. Just the fact that Russo had botched Quincy’s divorce case, that Quincy was black in a largely all-white town and that a blood-splattered torch was found in the boot of Quincy’s car. A torch he swore was planted. A torch that was conveniently destroyed in a fire just before his trial.

The lack of evidence made no difference to judge or jury. In the eyes of the law Quincy was guilty and, no matter how often he protested his innocence, his punishment was life in prison.
Finally, after 22 years, comes Quincy’s one and only chance of freedom. An innocence lawyer and minister, Cullen Post, takes on his case. Post has exonerated eight men in the last ten years. He intends to make Quincy the next.

But there were powerful and ruthless people behind Russo’s murder. They prefer that an innocent man dies in jail rather than one of them. There’s one way to guarantee that. They killed one lawyer 22 years ago, and they’ll kill another without a second thought.

My Review ~

I absolutely adore legal thrillers. I also find the American justice system so much more fascinating than here in the UK. Any novel which has the theme of ‘miscarriage of justice’ or ‘death row’ instantly grab my interest. I immediately purchased this from the local supermarket and devoured it in one weekend.

A potential miscarriage of justice, a life sentence without parole, racial injustice and building tension. GET IN MY SHOPPING TROLLEY!

The novel does surround the case of Quincy Miller in a crime that took place 22yrs ago. He was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of divorce lawyer Keith Russo. He was convicted in a largely all white town, the jury was tainted from the get go and evidence was lost/misplaced. Quincy Miller never stood a chance!

‘It’s fairly easy to convict an innocent man and virtually impossible to exonerate one’ 

However, before the novel gets into Quincy’s case, we learn about Cullen Post an innocence lawyer and former preacher. We learn of the work he does at the innocence project. Who he will and won’t appeal cases for and the type of man he is. Cullen is a intriguing character and one I hope to read more of in the future.

There are backstories in the form of Cullen’s other cases. This is where you will meet other prisoners and some of them accused of heinous crimes. Are they innocent? That is for Cullen to prove. When we first meet Cullen he is consulting on a violent rape and murder conviction. The convict Duke Russell already has his execution scheduled. Can Cullen save his life and prove him innocent? Or is this simply too much to ask for one man?

‘Clemency for Mr Russell is therefore denied’

As we follow Cullen in his investigations into Quincy’s case (and various other sub-characters). We learn it is not only the fight for innocence that drives Cullen but the desire to see justice for the real predators out there enjoying their freedom while someone else does their prison time.

Quincy Miller’s case is complex. It involves a messy divorce, kids that don’t know he exits and jailhouse snitches. Even if Quincy Miller is innocent, he is going to need god on his side to get free. In walks Cullen Post a former preacher and unique man with a personal quest for justice and balance in the world.

‘For twenty-two years he has maintained his innocence, but no one is listening’

Whilst Quincy has a theory on who and why someone set him up. It is going to take heaven and earth to get the people from his past to admit they lied under oath, if they so did lie. But Cullen Post has a plan…

‘Very few women are criminals. Their mistakes are picking bad boyfriends’

Along the way we meet other convicts such as Shasta Briley and Gerald Cook. They bring added depth to the legal novel and that is what make John Grisham the king of the genre. There are multiple thought-provoking scenes and moments to pause and reflect. I will leave you with this quote, which is my personal favourite within the novel…

‘Prison is a nightmare for those who deserve it. For those who don’t it is a daily struggle to maintain some level of sanity’ ~ 4.5* 

JG
John Grisham
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Cemetery Road by Greg Iles 5* #CrimeFiction #AmericanNoir #LegalThriller

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Cemetery Road by Greg Iles
My Own Copy ~ Hardback

Synopsis ~

Two murders. One Town. And a lifetime of secrets.

‘Pure reading pleasure’ Stephen King

The No.1 New York Times bestselling author of the Natchez Burning trilogy returns with an electrifying standalone. A tale of friendship, betrayal, and shattering secrets that threaten to destroy a small Mississippi town.

Some things should never be uncovered…

When successful journalist Marshall McEwan discovers that his father is terminally ill, he returns to his childhood home in Bienville, Mississippi – a place he vowed to leave behind forever.

His family’s newspaper is failing; and Jet Turner, the love of his youth, has married into the family of Max Matheson, one of the powerful patriarchs who rule the town through the exclusive Poker Club.

Bienville is on the brink of economic salvation, in the form of a billion-dollar Chinese paper mill. But as the deal nears completion, two murders rock the town to its core, threatening far more than the city’s economic future.

Marshall and Jet soon discover a minefield of explosive secrets beneath the soil of Mississippi. And by the time Marshall grasps the long-buried truth about his own history – and the woman he loves – he would give almost anything not to face it.

My Review ~

I am a huge fan of Greg Iles and was very much looking forward to reading this mammoth book beast! I had heard from some early reviewers that Cemetery Road was very similar to the Penn Cage series and in particular the Natchez trilogy. Greg Iles is know for his deeply layered and complex stories and this one did not disappoint!

The title opens with Bienville (Mississippi) local archaeologist Buck Ferris. We are aware he is digging on private property and that he has discovered Native American bones. When he is subsequently attacked and left for dead due to his discovery, we become aware there that Bienville Is much more than the sleepy forgotten American town.

Marshall McEwan is a successful journalist that ran away from Mississippi many years ago, when he was just 18yrs old. He returns 28yrs later due to the health needs of his elderly father Duncan. Duncan McEwan is a legendary newspaper editor of the Bienville watchman. His health is in rapid decline due to his alcoholism, anger and depression. Both men are haunted by the death of Marchall’s brother Adam over 20yrs ago.

‘To understand this story, you must swim between two tides like a person moving from wakefulness to sleep and then back again’

Over the first few pages of the title we become acquainted with several of Bienville’s residents, whom all hold close ties to Marshall. From Quinn Ferris (Buck’s wife), to Denny Allman a 14yr old home-schooled loveable delinquent and Bryon Ellis a county coroner concerned with the crime rates in the African American community. We learn how each character fits into Marshall’s life and why the death of Buck Ferris wounds him so greatly.

 Marshall is a Pulitzer prize winner, a veteran of the Afghan and Iraq wars. Yet there is so much more emotional depth to his character than initially thought. We learn more about the death of his brother Adam and the impact this had on Marshall’s relationship with his parents, friends/locals and most importantly himself. Marshall has Never truly recovered from Adam’s death.

‘A fourteen-year old boy doesn’t need to know grief can last that long’

In the town of Bienville there is a massive wealth divide in the community. Between those that live rich and affluent lives and those who live in near poverty. Inequality in America is a HUGE issue and I have also seen the economic and political consequencesof it within my own country too. I felt that Greg Iles does a brilliant portrayal of this in a fictional form. The struggles of Bienville, feel very real!

‘Not caring is the same as begging for fascism’

As Marshall Looks into the case of Buck’s death, at the request of his wife. He learns something sinister is afoot in Bienville. Something very sinister, that leads all the way to his first love Jet Matheson…
The Matheson family pretty much own Bienville and if Marshall wishes to uncover their secrets, he will have to tread very carefully indeed.

‘A town like Bienville is like the river it was founded on, filled with deep and conflicting currents’

Marshall becomes convinced Buck was murdered and promises Quinn he will unmask the killer in their midst. But who would want to murder an elderly archaeologist? And why?

The book deals with two compelling main themes, that of corporate greed and the fundamental need for a free press. The last 1/4 of the title is very gritty and much more like the Penn Cage trilogy on level of shock value and twists.
American Noir at its finest. 5*

GI
Greg Iles
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with A.F. Brady @AFBradyNYC #Author of, Once A Liar #NewRelease #Legal #Thriller #Suspense @HQstories

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Once A Liar by A.F. Brady

Synopsis ~

The next gripping thriller from AF Brady…

Peter Caine, a cutthroat Manhattan defense attorney, worked ruthlessly to become the best at his job. On the surface, he is charming and handsome, but inside he is cold and heartless. He fights without remorse to acquit murderers, pedophiles and rapists.

When Charlie Doyle, the daughter of the Manhattan DA—and Peter’s former lover—is murdered, Peter’s world is quickly sent into a tailspin. He becomes the prime suspect as the DA, a professional enemy of Peter’s, embarks on a witch hunt to avenge his daughter’s death, stopping at nothing to ensure Peter is found guilty of the murder.

In the challenge of his career and his life, Peter races against the clock to prove his innocence. As the evidence mounts against him, he’s forced to begin unraveling his own dark web of lies and confront the sins of his past. But the truth of who killed Charlie Doyle is more twisted and sinister than anyone could have imagined…

Q&A ~

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A.) I am a psychotherapist, I’ve been working in the mental health field for nearly twenty years, and Once a Liar is my second novel. I draw heavily from my experiences working with individuals with mental illnesses when I write my books, which I think lends a unique authenticity to my work.

My novels are set in Manhattan, where I grew up, a place teeming with interesting and diverse people from whom I draw inspiration.

Once a Liar is the story of Peter Caine, a cut-throat Manhattan defence attorney who has recently gained custody of his teenaged son upon the death of his ex-wife. Peter sees little value in other human beings, which has served him well in his career defending the indefensible. When he finds the tables have turned and he is accused of the brutal murder of his on-again off-again mistress Charlie Doyle, Peter desperately tries to prove his innocence, and along his journey, he finds that the damage his heartlessness has done may be too great to overcome.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea, to writing and finally to publication?

A.) I wanted to write a book from the perspective of a sociopath because I found more often than not, literary and media representation of sociopathic stories are told through the lens of those who have been hurt or victimised by the sociopath. I wanted to dig inside his mind and get unsettled in there.

Peter was born of a combination of people I have known in my career, mixed together with a healthy dose of imagination. While I was writing him, I found myself becoming sympathetic to his situation. He’s a cold and unempathetic man, but he has a past, a history that led to his current condition, and he has a future that he seems willing to take steps to improve. Peter took the reins at some point in the writing process and showed me sides of himself that I didn’t know were coming. It was quite a journey.

I was nervous and excited for publication because I knew what a risk I was taking by creating a protagonist that’s hard to sympathize with, but I’m so glad I did. I love stepping outside the box, and my readers have really enjoyed getting inside the mind of a sociopath. It’s unique in that way, but also fast paced and the plot is twisty and complex. It was a pleasure to write, despite getting a little scared of the person I was creating from time to time.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A.) I love reading books of all genres, and going back to old favourites. I love Jay McInerney, Hemingway (especially Islands in the Stream when it starts to get warm out), anything David Sedaris writes, James Frey, especially A Million Little Pieces, Chuck Palahniuk… I would recommend that everyone read Karoo by Steve Tesich. It’s one of my all-time favourites. I just love the story and the difficult protagonist. I love a journey that’s paved with self-discovery and change.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A.) As a kid, I loved Winnie the Pooh, and I still do. I loved Swallows and Amazons (Arthur Ransome), Nancy Drew, the Famous Five (Enid Blyton), all these kinds of adventure stories. My grandparents had troves of old books at their house in Greece, so every summer my brother and I would devour everything they had left over from their own childhoods. And my favourite book growing up was My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell.

Q) What are you currently reading?

A.) I am currently in the middle of several books: American Overdose (Chris McGreal) Picking Cotton (Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton), Bright Lights, Big City (Jay McInerney) I reread this one almost yearly, The Plague (Camus) I reread this one almost yearly as well, and I’m just about to start Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens). I’m also reading some manuscripts so I can blurb for other suspense/thriller writers.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A.) My favourite moment came earlier this spring when a woman reached out to me via email to tell me that she has a very close friend who was diagnosed with a terminal illness and was beginning a bucket list. One of the items on her bucket list was meeting me. I was absolutely floored that my writing had meant so much to someone. We arranged a date and the three of us sat at a diner in Manhattan and chatted for hours about her life, my books, and the impact I made on her life.

Connecting with readers and telling stories that people feel deep down and relate to on some level has always been my favourite part of being a writer, but this one really meant a lot to me.

We are still in touch and are planning on meeting up at the diner again!

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

My family has been incredibly supportive, especially my husband. He takes on many additional roles in order to allow me to take the time I need to write. He helps me work out sticky plot issues, and he never gets tired of sitting around over dinner discussing things I’m going to do to my characters. My dog is also omnipresent while I’m writing, and it’s gotten to the point that I can’t complete a sentence unless he’s lying with me.

AFB
A.F. Brady
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Fade To Grey by @JohnelWilliams #LegalThriller #CrimeFiction @noexitpress ‘Modern and diverse crime fiction 4*’

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Fade To Grey by John Lincoln
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Gethin Grey is the man you call when there’s nowhere else to turn. His Last Resort Legals team investigates miscarriages of justice. But Gethin is running out of options himself: his gambling is out of control, his marriage is falling apart and there’s no money left to pay the wages…

Izma M was sent down years ago for the brutal murder of a young woman. In jail he’s written a bestseller and become a cult hero, and now the charismatic fading-film-star Amelia Laverne wants to bankroll Gethin to prove Izma’s innocence. For Gethin – low on luck and cash – the job is heaven sent.
But is Izma M really as blameless as his fans believe?

My Review:

Fade To Grey is a fascinating legal thriller that tackles the issue of racial prejudice in the criminal justice system. Focusing around the case of Ismail Mohammed/ Izma M/ Tyrell Hanson, who is now a prominent civil rights leader from his jail cell. He currently serves his sentence for the murder of a white girl, despite there being no real evidence to convict him. Is he innocent or guilty as charged?

Gethin Grey runs Last resorts legal team, they invest in miscarriages of justice and are made aware of the case by Amelia Laverne, who wishes to bankroll the quest for justice for Izma.

‘I’ll bet if he’d been a nice middle-class white boy the case never would have got to court’

Gethin prioritises his cases in five categories from the no hopers to the good cases, to the guilty.
Izma’s case sends mixed messages. He denies the brutal murder of Hannah Gold, but DNA evidence confirms the two had sex prior to her death. Gethin and his team will have to dig into the original case notes, if they hope to find evidence of Izma’s innocence.

‘Bad luck and prejudice could easily be enough to see an innocent man convicted’

The team at Last Resorts offer an interesting blend of characters. They add more drama to the investigation as they bring their skills to the table.
Modern and diverse crime fiction. 4*

JL
John Lincoln
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Secrets You Hide by @KateWritesBooks 4* #LegalThriller #CrimeFiction #Psychological @BonnierZaffre

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The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Georgia Sage has a gift: she can see evil in people. As a courtroom artist she uses her skills to help condemn those who commit terrible crimes. After all, her own brutal past means she knows innocence is even rarer than justice.

But when she is drawn back into the trial that defined her career, a case of twisted family betrayal, she realises her own reckless pursuit of justice may have helped the guilty go free.

As Georgia gets closer to the truth behind the Slater family, something happens that threatens not only her career – but even her own sanity. At first, she fears her guilt around the events of her terrible childhood is finally coming back to haunt her.

The truth turns out to be even more terrifying . . .

My Review:

The Secrets You Hide is an impressive debut novel, it is packed full of twists and turns; and you never know who you can trust. Which includes our protagonist Georgia Sage.

The novel opens in 1997, with a young girl Suzanne locked in her room, as her father commits an atrocious and traumatic crime.
‘Dad has been acting strange for months’
What’s on the other side of the door?

We then are introduced to Georgia in 2017, She is a freelance court room artist and has sat in on some horrific crimes in her career. As we meet her, she is on the morning of a awkward one night stand. We discover via her internal thoughts she is not as content with her career choice as she’d have others believe.
‘What kind of person paints pictures of the worst humanity has to offer?’

Georgia does take great pride in her work and believes that her courtroom sketches could ultimately impact the jury/public opinion. I wasn’t as sure about this, but I was intrigued by the way in which Georgia sold it to the reader…
‘I build up the layers, to reveal people as they really are, the secrets they hide even from themselves’

We become aware Georgia lives in a large property and has no financial concerns. I think this explains why she is content with a career choice that cannot earn her much money. We also become aware she is a lonely woman, with a troubled past. It is at this point she becomes an unreliable narrator, of her own story.

‘The fear of life was stronger than the relief of death’

The case Georgia is currently in court sessions for is a he/she said rape trial. But Georgia is convinced of the man’s guilt. But that isn’t the case that the novel revolves around. It is a case from Georgia’s past.
A case she has always been uncertain if justice truly was served…..

A complex twisty psychological thriller, with a shocking ending! 4*

KH
Kate Helm
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