Cover Reveal: Melinda Clayton’s ‘Entangled Thorns’

The next book I will be reading is Entangled Thorns by Melinda Clayton. I selected this title from Cheap Kindle Books. I was first drawn to the book because of the cover art and the story promises to be a dark mystery about a family’s history.


Here is a synopsis of the book provided by the author:

The infamous Pritchett family of Cedar Hollow, West Virginia was best known for bootlegging, moonshining, and living life on the wrong side of the law. As older daughter Beth Pritchett Sloan describes, “Upon reflection, I supposed at some point throughout the generations Pritchetts must have realized deviance was all they had, and subsequently decided to embrace it as a point of pride. Our neighbors were impoverished and dignified; we were trash, and proud of it.”

In 1984, when Beth was seventeen, her thirteen year old brother Luke died a mysterious death, and Beth and her younger sister Naomi took the next train out of Cedar Hollow, cutting all ties to their family. Over the intervening years Beth worked hard to suppress the demons of her past and create a life of her own, marrying, raising children, and enjoying the comforts of an upper-middle-class lifestyle.

Then an unwelcome letter arrives, threatening to upset the precarious balance Beth has managed to establish. Summoned back to Cedar Hollow and the family she left behind, Beth must risk everything to face the truth about what really happened to her brother Luke that distant summer night.

–Nighttime Narratives

A Dramatic Police Procedural Mystery: Review of ‘Murder in the Worst Degree’ by F. M. Meredith

Murder in the Worst Degree is the tenth book in F. M. Meredith’s Rocky Bluff Police Department series. You can read an interview with the author here. I selected this title from Cheap Kindle Books.

Summary

Set in the fictional town of Rocky Bluff on the Southern California coast, the book focuses on two cases to be solved by the Rocky Bluff P.D. The first case centers on the dead body of a wealthy elderly man, Harlan Knight, discovered on the beach by two surfers.

Except for the dead body washed up on the sand, conditions were perfect for surfing. Thanks to a big storm coming from Alaska, spectacular waves rolled in. They rose in dark blue-gray splendor with a magnificent header of sparkling foam before they crashed and rolled toward shore. Another set of perfect waves formed right behind.

It turns out that the cause of Knight’s death is not drowning, but an overdose of prescription pills. Detectives Doug Milligan and Felix Zachary investigate numerous suspects: the son, grandson, daughter, housekeeper, the housekeeper’s son, Knight’s three Marine friends and a secret girlfriend, all of whom stand to inherit from Knight’s will.

Meanwhile, Doug’s wife Police Officer Stacey Milligan and her partner Lizette Gibbs investigate two rapes cases in Rocky Bluff. When one of the rape victims gets a look at his face, the description she gives turns into a computer-generated composite sketch that the officers immediately realize looks a lot like one of their own, Police Officer Ryan Strickland. Strickland’s wife Barbara has just given birth to a baby girl with Down Syndrome. Strickland who at first was not sure if he is up to being a loving father to a child with special needs now faces more challenges as he becomes a person of interest in the case and is put on paid administrative leave.

Evaluation

A distinctive feature of the book is the interaction between the daily professional and personal lives of the officers in the Rocky Bluff P.D. As the inquiry into the murder and the rapes continue other crimes need to be dealt with, an assortment of drugs, car accidents, suspect chasing, burglaries and there is even an earthquake to contend with. The officers also adjust to a new police chief, Chandra Taylor. The book even touches on how small towns handle the pressure of rising crime with budget cuts and the shortage of resources.

It seemed odd to Stacey that the chief no longer had a full-time secretary and the office stood empty half of the time.

Along with this the officers deal with the usual run of love interests, family interactions and concerns. The blend of the ongoing police activities with each of the officers’ home life creates a satisfying story.

Despite being the tenth installment in the series the book is written to be self-standing and read on its own. Generally I do think the story holds up well for readers new to the series but it would have been a bit easier to keep track of and connect with some of the characters if you had read the earlier books. A list of the main characters with a brief summary of their background inserted at the front or the back of the book would have been a helpful resource. For readers new to Rocky Bluff it might often be difficult to know when was the last instance of a character and requires going back a number of pages to see who they are, their job title, who they are involved with or married to and the names of their children. In a long running series there are a numerous players whose relationship to other characters might not be always obvious. A cast of characters is a convenient place to refer back to place the narrative in context.

Conclusion

You will want to keep reading this book to find out how the cases will be solved. Rocky Bluff is a heartwarming place where you can get to know the characters while trying to figure out the mystery. I can imagine the Rocky Bluff P.D. stories as a great weekly television series that people look forward to tuning into regularly to see what else happens to each of the characters and how the mystery unfolds. I am now motivated to read all of the books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series by F. M. Meredith.


Murder in the Worst Degree by F. M. Meredith (2014)
168 Pages. Oak Tree Press, Hanford, CA
Purchase it at Cheap Kindle Books here
Purchase it on Amazon here
Add it to Goodreads here

–Nighttime Narratives

Author Advice: How to Build an Effective Marketing Platform

Here is a series of useful posts by Novel Finds that provides a framework for authors to develop a marketing platform. Go forth and read to continue the pursuit of your literary passion!

–Nighttime Narratives

Author Interview with F. M. Meredith

This author interview features F. M. Meredith. F. M. Meredith is the author of numerous books including ‘Murder in the Worst Degree’ by F. M. Meredith. ‘Murder in the Worst Degree’ is part of the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series. I selected this title from Cheap Kindle books. Book review coming soon!

When did you decide to become a writer?
When I was in grammar school I began writing stories. Continued to write stories and plays all through high school. Marriage and a big family caused me to cut back though I did write the PTA newsletter and plays for my Camp Fire Girls to act in. When the kids grew up I began writing seriously again.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Because I write two mystery series, I write two books a year. Writing consists of first decided what I’m going to write, getting it down and then rewriting. The critique group I’ve belonged to for years hears every chapter and gives me suggestions. So the answer is probably about six months per book, though a lot of time is also spent on promoting.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve lost count, but I’m nearing forty published books. There are a few books that I wrote that will never be published. Everyone always asks which book is my favorite, but it’s usually the one I just finished.

What are you working on at the minute? What’s it about?
I just finished the latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery called A Crushing Death (though that may change) and reading it to my critique group. The murder victim is a popular teacher accused of making improper advances to a female student. The new police chief is being stalked by someone she put in prison years ago. And of course, it’s also about the lives of the men and women who are part of the RBPD.

What is the hardest thing about writing?
Making myself sit down and write. Sometimes I have many other things that draw me away like promotion, answering emails and of course, Facebook.

What was the easiest thing about writing?
When the story is flowing, it’s easy to sit at the computer and write. Time passes quickly. I’ve learned to stop in the middle of a scene so I can easily pick up where I left off when I get back to the story.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Of course I love to read–but I don’t seem to have as much time to do that as I once did. Because I have a big family, I enjoy being around them. My husband and I love to go to the movies–good movies. I also enjoy attending writing events where I can be around other writers.

What book/s are you reading at present?
I’m reading two that I’ve promised to review. Infernal by James Garcia Jr. (A Christian horror with vampires and the devil. And Bequest by Nancy Bojorsky, a mystery set in Los Angeles. I’m enjoying both.

What is your favorite book and why?
I have lots of favorites, but one that I won’t forget is Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. It’s a mystery, but also a coming of age story. I enjoy Krueger’s mystery series too, but Ordinary Grace is special.

–Nighttime Narratives

Family Court Legal Thriller: Review of ‘The Advocate’ by Teresa Burrell

The Advocate is a debut novel by Teresa Burrell. You can read an interview with the author here. ‘The Advocate’ is the first book out of seven in ‘The Advocate’ series. I selected the book from Book Club Reading List.

The Advocate by Teresa Burrell

Front cover of ‘The Advocate’ by Teresa Burrell

The book is about Sabre Orin Brown, a dedicated juvenile court attorney, living in San Diego. Sabre’s professional and personal life entwine as she investigates a particular domestic violence court case that relates to the mysterious disappearance of her older brother Ron some five years earlier.

Summary

The court case involves Gaylord Murdock, a southern gentleman from a prominent family in Atlanta, Georgia; Gaylord’s pregnant girlfriend, Peggy Smith; Gaylord’s ten-year-old daughter, Alexis; and Peggy’s two-year-old son Jamie.

As Sabre uncovers unsettling facts about the case, like Peggy’s missing daughter Honey, strange things happen to her. Occasionally she catches the scent of her brother’s distinctive aftershave. There are frequent calls with no voice on the other end at any time night or day; items in her home and office are moved or misplaced, a live red bat tossed into her office through the mail slot and a lizard in her bed. Eventually Sabre is kidnapped and her house burned down.

Evaluation

The work was engagingly written and conveyed well a sense of what it was like to be a juvenile court attorney without any of the legal jargon. Teresa Burrell, herself an ex-attorney, demonstrated through the writing that she is familiar with the courtroom.

“After the hearing, Sabre gathered her files and went into Department Four to wait for the other attorneys on the domestic violence case. It had been an easy morning so far with mostly old review cases. Just that new domestic violence case and she could go eat. […]
The door opened and the Public Defender entered with Gaylord Murdock, a tall man with sandy blond hair and cutting blue eyes. Murdock stared at Peggy with an intensity that made Sabre shiver. Peggy’s face tightened and she squirmed in her seat, unable to tear herself away from his gaze. After about three seconds, Murdock’s face softened and his lip curled up in a smile. No sign of remorse or shame emanated from him as he glided to his seat with his broad shoulders straight and his head held high.
Sabre watched their interaction and wondered what she failed to see.”

The story was compelling and there were some distinctive unexpected twists to keep interest in the story right to the end. One of the more satisfying elements of the story had to do with Detective Joe Carriage of the Atlanta Police Department. Joe Carriage helps Sabre with background information on the Murdock case and in the process helps to solve a connected case that his deceased colleague Steve Parker was working on before he was killed by a hit and run driver. The wide cast of characters were deftly portrayed from the variety of people encountered in the court house, the group home, social workers, police officers and it is easy to sympathize with Sabre who is strongly devoted to protecting children no matter the cost.

At times, there was a coincidence or incident in the plot that was a bit far-fetched. An instance of this is the role of the doctor who happened to look just like Sabre’s missing brother. Some of the recurring character and features of the story at times seemed to sidetrack from the plot, such as the character of troubled Carla, which had Sabre dealing regularly with visits and phone calls to Carla, and the little tattered red note book given to her by her brother Ron when she was a little girl. Nonetheless Burrell did well to tie all of these elements together by the end of the book.

Conclusion

Overall The Advocate by Teresa Burrell is a very good legal thriller and a fast-paced, heartwarming read. I am going to read the rest of the books in the series for sure. A warning: if you start this book in the evening you might not end up going to sleep until very late that night. For that reason I’m giving the book five stars.


The Advocate by Teresa Burrell (2009)

308 Pages. Silent Thunder Publishing

Purchase it at The Book Club Reading List here

Purchase it on Amazon here

Add it to Goodreads here

–Nighttime Narratives

Another Cover Reveal…

The next book I’ll be reading selected from Cheap Kindle books is ‘Murder in the Worst Degree’ by F. M. Meredith

Here is a synopsis of the book provided by the author:

The title, Murder in the Worst Degree, was given to me by a friend. I started writing the book and nearly reached the end before I knew how the title tied into the story. The beginning sentence sets the scene: “Except for the dead body washed up on the sand, conditions were perfect for surfing.” Detectives Milligan and Zachary must find out what happened to the murder victim, an old man, Their investigation focuses on the victim’s family, his housekeeper, his three best friends he served with in the military, and a mystery woman. As with every Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, the story includes what is going on in the lives of the men and women who serve and protect the beach town of Rocky Bluff.

Author Interview: Teresa Burrell, Writer of ‘The Advocate’

This author interview features Teresa Burrell. Teresa has dedicated her life to helping children in the courtroom and in the classroom and is the author of several novels including ‘The Advocate’ selected from the Book Club Reading List (book review coming soon!).

When did you decide to become a writer?
Writing a novel was something I had always wanted to do, but kept putting it off, mostly because I didn’t know if I could. Finally, I had a court case that inspired me and I realized that I also didn’t know that I couldn’t write. I gave it a shot and I thoroughly enjoyed the process, so I did it six more times.

I wrote the first book more to see if I could do it than anything else. Then I went about seeing if I could get it published just to see if I could. It wasn’t until I got my first publisher that I started to think this might be a new career for me.

How long does it take you to write a book?
The shortest time it took me to write a book was six months. The longest was eleven months. I was practicing law when I wrote my first book and working fourteen to fifteen hours a day, seven days a week. I set my alarm an hour and a half early every morning and got up and wrote. Six months later, I had my first draft.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have written seven books in The Advocate Series, and I have one children’s book, Gaspar, the Flatulating Ghost. Each one of my books is a favorite for different reasons. The Advocate is a favorite because it was my first. The second, The Advocate’s Betrayal, was fun to write because the ending had such a fun twist. Some were fun because of the research. They all have a special place for me for different reasons.

What are you working on at the minute? What’s it about? (if relevant)
I’m working on a new series, a spin-off from The Advocate’s Felony. The protagonist is a mysterious man who lives in a cabin in the mountains of Montana. He likes three things, guns, women, and gambling.

What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing for me is coming up with a plot that hasn’t been done a thousand times. Once I get an idea it seems to just flow.

What is the easiest thing about writing?
When you’re doing something you love to do, it’s usually easy. I love writing and I really enjoy the whole process. I enjoy the writing, the editing, the marketing, the networking–all of it.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I spend most of my spare time with my family when I’m not writing. I’m the last of nine children and I happen to have the best family a person could ask for. They are so supportive and a lot of fun to be around.

I love to travel and this career has allowed me to do that. I spend more time on the road than I do at home.

What book/s are you reading at present?
The third book in Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, Edge of Eternity.

What is your favorite book and why?
One of my favorite all time books was Gone With the Wind. I read it three or four times when I was young. Then I read it again a couple of years ago and I got a total different perspective. I’ve discovered that my favorite book has more to do with what is going on in my life than the book itself.

First Book Cover Reveal…

I am currently reading ‘The Advocate’ by Teresa Burrell, chosen from the Book Club Reading List. And it is real good so far.

Here is a synopsis of the book from the author:

For Sabre Orin Brown, life is good; she has it all…or would have, if only she could solve the mysterious disappearance of her brother. The search for her brother and her career as a juvenile court attorney collide when she defends a nine-year-old whose father will go to any length to obtain custody.

Sabre finds herself immersed in a case with too many unanswered questions. Her quest for the truth takes her coast to coast and five years into the past. Confronted with mysterious clues and strange occurrences, Sabre is threatened by someone wanting to make her suffer the unbearable anguish of losing everything–including her life.

As Sabre’s passion to find the answers intensifies, she discovers a twisted history of desperation, deceit, and revenge. And she discovers how obscure and treacherous the truth can be.

‘The Advocate’ by Teresa Burrell

Welcome to My New Book Review Website

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