Category: Crime Fiction

The Killing of Polly Carter (Death in Paradise 2)

25882387-_uy765_ss765_

Review by Ellen Wallace

Who Killed the Beautiful Model on the Stairs by the Sea?

Classic themes such as sisterly jealousy, family secrets, an old Caribbean cottage and a houseful of guests are combined in a delicious factional gumbo in Robert Thorogood’s detective novel The Killing of Polly Carter (Death in Paradise 2).

The novel, part of the “A Death in Paradise Mystery Series,” resembles Agatha Christie’s mastery of the slight-of-hand-murder. A dead woman at the bottom of a long ancient outdoor staircase leading to the sea, only a few suspects who are all houseguests, a missing cell phone and a sister in a wheelchair are all elements that must be sorted through by Police Chief Richard Poole and his able but humorously quirky staff.

The ‘Chief,” as most on his staff call him, has a secret of his own — his mother is about to come to St. Marie for a vacation without his father. To Richard, his parents are a pair and always should be. What’s going on back home?

The dead woman Polly Carter is a former internationally famous model whose riches bought the home. Her friends are in for a bit of a reunion — with no set date of departure. Her sister is wheelchair bound — or is she?

Digging through the clues and characters to find the killer is a delightful escape laced with romance, secret passages, the down-and-out situations of almost every guest and the basic question “why Polly?” How she was killed, however, is where Thorogood keeps readers turning the pages.

If you wish you were on an island paradise with cool sand at your feet and hot breezes, then take a break from true crime and read The Killing of Polly Carter. The antics, plot twists, lush environs and dysfunctional characters will bring a smile to your face.

An Acre of Fools by Aden James

By Ellen Wallace, True Crime Reader reviewer

Verdict: “A Novel That Rings True to the Raw Reality of Addiction”

I don’t read fiction often and the only way I’m able to review a novel is to see if it resonates with me. That is to say, after I’ve finished reading it, does the story leave footprints on my spirit?

I purposely waited to write my review after completing An Acre of Fools by Aden James to see what my reaction would be after the book settled a bit in my mind. A week after completing it, I know I’ve just read an outstanding, important novel.

The novel is beautifully written and engages the reader early and easily. The foundation of the novel poses supremely human characters facing the conflict of their actions versus spiritual teachings, the struggles of parenthood, and the manipulative devil of addiction.

The larger message of this book is to define how the addiction of one family member takes down not only the addict, but also every member of the family.

James crafts his message through a beguiling tale of an upper-class family in crisis. The format of the book is brilliant — using a literary vehicle of a family vacation home, writing the story in installments of annual vacations spent by the Stewart family at River Soul (the name they give their second home) on the Okatie River in South Carolina. The restful retreat welcomes readers just as it becomes a touchstone for the Stewart family and the stage for much of the story.

The Stewarts could be any family (and that’s somewhat the point) – Peter, the father who is a driven man who builds his career not to obtain wealth but to provide for and protect his family as he feels is his Christian duty; Mimi, Peter’s wife and the love of his life who is a Southern lady; Grace Elisabeth, the sensible older daughter; and Austin, the youngest daughter plagued with a critical illnesses who and then gets sucked into the vortex of drug addiction.

The book presents the ageless struggle of good versus evil without delivering a patronizing sermon. An Acre of Fools simultaneously softens and hardens readers to the raw debris of addiction by weaving a story about characters whose brutal choices are those that many of us fantasize about taking, but do not because we hold ourselves to society’s standards of lawful conduct.

Aden James, a pen name, Is an author of talent and conviction. Don’t skip this book. Buy it, savor it and let it crawl through your soul. I promise it will.

In a valiant gesture rarely seen in the publishing world, James is donating 90 percent of the sale proceeds from the book to causes focusing on addiction, human trafficking and family restoration.

An Acre of Fools is published by Elevate Publishing and available for purchase from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

That Night by Chevy Stevens

thatnight

True Crime Reader partnered with Bookworld on this blog post.

That Night is the third “psychological thriller” from Canadian author Chevy Stevens. I had never read any of Stevens’ books before so the fact that thriller heavyweights like Harlan Coban and Lee Child lent their names to praise That Night certainly piqued my interest.

I received my review copy from Bookworld,  which has an extensive range of crime fiction titles and I was very excited to start reading. and I was very excited to start reading. There’s something about starting a crime fiction book that is so tantalising, with the promise of reading late into the night when you find a book you can’t put down.

That Night did not disappoint me.

The book centres on Toni Murphy, who at 18 years old in 1996 was sentenced to a very long stint in prison for the murder of her little sister Nicole. Toni and her co-accused, boyfriend Ryan, always maintained they were innocent. After 14 years, Toni is freed and returns to her hometown where it becomes desperately clear she must unearth the dark secrets of the past. Especially why the group of high school girls who tormented Toni at school lied during the court case.

The book flips between 1996 and then to some of the years of Toni’s prison sentence, then to the present day where she is trying to forge a fresh start.

I felt an affinity with Toni as I was a similar age in 1996 and could relate to the references to the grunge movement of the time. Stevens writing is quite plain (in a good way that lets the reader flow through the pages) and was quite befitting of her protagonist who was just a teenager when sent to prison.

I was often reminded of Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye while reading this in terms of the theme of “mean girls” and bullying. Atwood’s book was more subtle and literary however, Stevens firmly articulates Toni’s battle with her tormentors to keep the plot flowing.

The characters I was most intrigued by were Toni’s parents and Stevens has a particular focus of writing about family dynamics and she does it well in this book. You can really feel the complete destruction of the Murphy family.

I won’t give away any more of the plot, suffice to say Toni and Ryan have no choice but to get to the truth of “that night” and why Nicole was murdered.

I’ll definitely be reading more of Chevy Stevens‘ books.

*As well as reading true crime, True Crime Reader likes to keep up with what is happening in the world of crime fiction so expect to see more fiction reviews here*