Monday, 24 March 2014

Murder Myself, Murder I Am (True Crime) by Jon Keehner

Paperback:  "In the early morning hours of 2 May 1990, my step-father, Rich Duncan, checked out of the Motel 6 in Moses Lake, Washington and traveled over the North Cascades Highway enroute to his home in Duvall, Washington.

He was supposed to be home by four o'clock that afternoon.

Two days later, police discovered his abandoned car in the small town of Darrington, Washington.

As my mother desperately struggled to get law enforcement to help find her husband, his killer set out to cover up his crime and evade detection.  Once he was eventually captured, the shocking truth about the killer's violent past and early release from prison deepened my mother's resolve on her relentless quest to ensure, that despite a favourable plea deal that would have released him on 27 January 2014, that he would never walk free again."

Murder Myself, Murder I Am (2014) is based upon more than nine years of factual research which includes extensive review of public records and court files and detailed interviews with persons knowledgeable about the subject of this book - the murder of Richard Duncan by Phillip V Hillman.  Phillip and Sharon Hillman were not interviewed for this book.

While this book is based upon true events, the narrative includes fictionalized accounts of the thoughts, discussion, statements and motivations of Sharon and Phillip Hillman, as well as other persons interviewed for this book.

About the author:  Dr Jon Keehner grew up in Bothell, Washington.  He holds degrees from Cascadia Community College, University of Idaho and Washington State University.  His foremost passion is hunting and shooting sports as well as exposing the utter malfeasance of his and his wife's four cats.  Murder Myself, Murder I Am is his first book - available in book and Kindle forms - but he is currently working on a historical context novel.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith

Paperback:  She sighed.  "Everything is too complicated these days, Mr J L B Matekoni.  Everything is made to be thrown away rather than fixed.  It is all very wasteful."

She warmed to her theme.  "When I think of what we made do with in the past, it makes me very sad.  If you found a hole in a sock, you darned it.  We were taught how to do that at school.  And if your collar frayed, then you had it turned.  If the handle came off a cup, you glued it back on."

"Yes," said Mr J L B Matekoni.  "You never threw things away.  Nowadays, if something goes wrong, you throw it out of the window, just like that."

"And people too," said Mma Ramotswe.  "If you suddenly decide you don't like somebody, you throw them out of the window too.  That's what wives do to their husbands these days."

Mr J L B Matekoni looked concerned.  "Out of the window, Mma?"

"Not really out of the window," said Mma Ramotswe.  "I just use that as an expression, Rra.  And it's not just wives who throw their husbands out of the window when they get bored with them;  it's men too.  In fact, there are more wives thrown out of the window than men, I think."

"Either way, it's not very good," said Mr J L B Matekoni.  "Nobody should be thrown out of the window, Mma."

They had lapsed into silence as they contemplated, in their individual ways, this decline in civility...

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon (2013) is the fourteenth book in the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series set in Botswana.  In this instalment, Mma Ramotswe's resilient and adaptable agency is once again open to useful lessons, in particular, that our enemies and allies are not always obvious.

About the author:  Alexander McCall Smith is the author of over eighty books on a wide array of subjects.  For many years, he was Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh and served on national and international bioethics bodies.  Then in 1999, he achieved global recognition for his award-winning series The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and thereafter has devoted his time to the writing of fiction, including the 44 Scotland Street and Corduroy Mansion series.  His books have been translated into forty-six languages.  He lives in Edinburgh with his wife, Elizabeth, a doctor.

The next and fifteenth book in the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series - The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe - will become available on 18 September 2014 in hardback and Kindle forms.

Rating:  5/5

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Beyond Justice by Joshua Graham

Paperback:  The descent into hell is not always vertical. - Bishop Frank Morgan

Sam Hudson, a reputable San Diego attorney, learns this when the authorities wrongfully convict him of the brutal rape and murder of his wife and daughter, and sends him to death row. There he awaits execution by lethal injection.

If he survives that long.

In prison, Sam fights for his life while his attorney works frantically on his appeal.  It is then that he embraces the faith of his departed wife and begins to manifest supernatural abilities.  Abilities which help him save lives - his own, those of his unlikely allies - and uncover the true killer's identity, unlocking the door to his exoneration.

Now a free man, Sam's newfound faith confronts him with the most insurmountable challenge yet.  A challenge beyond vengeance, beyond rage, beyond anything Sam believes himself capable of:  to forgive the very man who murdered his family, according to his faith.

"The themes of grace and forgiveness are very important in this book...Someone once said, unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other guy dies.  I believe that when we don't forgive, we are shackled and put in an emotional, even spiritual prison of solitary confinement...The old adage says, "To err is human, to forgive is divine."  Sometimes we need help from that higher power to heal us, to release us from years of holding onto pain.  I also want to encourage you to share this book with anyone who might be interested in a story like this one, or who might benefit from the message...," wrote the author in the book.

But this endeavour reveals darker secrets than either Sam or the killer could ever have imagined.

Secrets that hurtle them into a fateful collision course.

Beyond Justice (2010) is definitely a tale of loss, redemption and the power of faith in its highest sense.

About the author:  Joshua Graham grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he lived for the better part of thirty years.  He holds a Bachelor and Master's Degree and went on to earn his doctorate at the Johns Hopkins University.  During his time in Maryland, he taught as a professor at Shepherd College (WV), Western Maryland College and Columbia Union College (MD).

In 2010, his debut novel Beyond Justice rose to No 1 on the Barnes and Noble bestselling ebook lists in the Legal Thriller category.  Graham is also the first prize winner of the Forward National Literature Award for his YA Epic Fantasy novel Once We Were Kings (2011), written under his pen name Ian Alexander.

Winner of the International Book Award, Graham's thrilling suspense novel, Darkroom (2012), hit three bestseller lists on Amazon the night of its release.  Many of Graham's readers blame him for sleepless nights, arriving to work late, neglected dishes and family members, and not allowing them to put the book down.

Today, he lives with his beautiful wife and children in Southern California.

Rating:  6/5

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Alligator Man by James Sheehan

James Sheehan masterfully weaves stories of love and friendship into one man's uncompromising search for truth within the four corners of a courtroom where it is often spoken about but seldom seen.

In his first three highly acclaimed novels, The Mayor of Lexington Avenue (2005), The Law of Second Chances (2008), and most recently, The Lawyer's Lawyer (2013), Sheehan's character, attorney Jack Tobin, attracted many fans.

In The Alligator Man (2013), Sheehan introduces fans to a new protagonist, lawyer Kevin Wylie, whose compassion and quick wit give readers a reason to root for him in the courtroom.

Hardback:  Kevin Wylie's crooked boss wants to run him out of town, and Kevin's long-time girlfriend is ready to take a hike.  He decides that now is the time to leave Miami, visit his father - Tom Wylie, whom he hasn't seen in 28 years, and get some answers.

Heading back to his hometown in St Albans, Kevin doesn't realize that he and his dad will become embroiled in a murder case.

Roy Johnson, the victim, one of the richest and most-hated corporate criminals in America has been dubbed "the alligator man" since he went missing and pieces of his clothing were found in a local swamp.  Billy Fuller had every reason in the world to want Johnson dead and all the evidence leads right to his doorstep.

But legendary trial lawyer Tom Wylie believes in Billy, and he and his son, Kevin, reunite to fight the courtroom battle for Billy's life.

The Alligator Man is essentially a story of greed, anger, love, redemption and two powerful trial attorneys who fight to the end and risk everything for the truth.

If you like South Florida crime novels, then you won't be disappointed with Sheehan's tightly- and stylishly-written courtroom thrillers.

About the author:  James Sheehan is the author of The Mayor of Lexington Avenue (2005), The Law of Second Chances (2008), The Lawyer's Lawyer (2013) and The Alligator Man (2013).  He was a successful trial attorney for thirty years, and currently teaches trial law and is the Director of the Tampa Law Institute at Stetson University College of Law in Tampa, Florida.

Rating:  5/5

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Lawyer's Lawyer by James Sheehan

From trial-lawyer-turned-writer James Sheehan comes another fast-paced legal thriller that once again proves what the New York Times Book Review said about the author when reviewing his first novel:  "Sheehan, a trial lawyer in Tampa, writes with bleak clarity when he's sharing the dirty tricks of his trade in the harrowing trial scenes, but there's a touch of the poet in his voice..."

With his first two highly acclaimed novels, The Mayor of Lexington Avenue (2005) and The Law of Second Chances (2008), Sheehan's character, lawyer Jack Tobin, attracted many fans with his compassionate intelligence and steady moral compass built into a strong yet sensitive man who is not afraid of whatever life tosses his way.  In the third book, The Lawyer's Lawyer (2013), Jack's back to fight and love another day.

Hardback:  Celebrated Miami trial attorney Jack Tobin was known in courtroom circles as a "lawyer's lawyer" - the guy the best lawyers say they'd want to represent them in a fight.  Now retired from the high-powered Miami scene to the sleepy fishing town of Bass Creek, Jack represents only people who he believes are innocent.

When he is asked to represent a suspected serial killer on death row, Jack, at first, is hesitant.  After reviewing the criminal investigation, however, Jack becomes convinced that the man was set up and decides to take the case.

That decision pits Jack against the powerful elite of Apache County, its citizens, and the woman he loves.

It also takes him down a road of self-searching and despair and, ultimately, into the courtroom where he must fight for his life in a battle that neither he nor any other lawyer has ever waged before.

What begins as a story about a serial killer and the terror he brings to a small community in rural Florida evolves into a search for love, friendship, and truth - with a criminal trial as the background and Jack Tobin in the center of it all.

About the author:  James Sheehan is the author of The Mayor of Lexington Avenue (2005), The Law of Second Chances (2008), The Lawyer's Lawyer (2013) and The Alligator Man (2013).  He was a successful trial attorney for thirty years, and currently teaches trial law and is the Director of the Tampa Law Institute at Stetson University College of Law in Tampa, Florida.

Rating:  5/5

Monday, 3 March 2014

Con Law by Mark Gimenez

Hardback:  "So people all over the country write to you and ask for help?  Like you're some kind of superhero or something?"

John Bookman - Book to his friends - is a tenured professor at the University of Texas School of Law.  He's thirty-five, handsome and unmarried but seldom without a female companion.  He rides a Harley and wears jeans and cowboy boots and his hair too long to suit the conservative dean.  He teaches Constitutional Law, reduces senators to blithering fools on political talk shows, writes scathing op-eds and is often mentioned as a future Supreme Court nominee.

But Book is also famous for something more unusual.  He likes to take on lost causes and win.  Consequently, when he arrives at the law school each Monday morning, hundreds of letters await him from desperate Americans around the country seeking his help.  Every now and then, one letter captures his attention and Book feels compelled to act.  Specifically this one.

Dear Professor Bookman, 
Remember me?  Nathan Jones?  I was your intern for one month four years ago...I work in our Marfa office which we established to represent our largest client, an oil and gas company...They're fracking in the Woodland shale field north of town.  Professor, our client is contaminating the aquifer...I have proof...I took the matter to my senior partner...He told me to keep my mouth shut...But I don't know what to do.  Can you help me?...
PS I think someone followed me home last night.  My wife is scared.

Then Nathan dies in a one-car accident on the north side of Highway 67.  Sheriff Brady Munn investigates the accident and reports that Jones apparently fell asleep, ran off the road, lost control of his vehicle, and crashed into a pump jack.

"A car accident,"  Book said.  "Same day he mailed the letter...I don't believe in coincidences."

"They killed Nathan, Professor," said Brenda Jones, Nathan's widow.  "They said he was speeding, but Nathan never drives fast...Professor, you were his hero.  Be his hero now.  Give him justice.  Find his truth.  It wasn't an accident."

In the first of a thrilling and cleverly-written new series from the author of international bestsellers, Professor Bookman - with his latest law school intern in tow on his Harley - investigates a murder in the corrupt world of art and fracking in deepest, darkest Texas, in Con Law (2013).

About the author:  "I grew up in Galveston County, Texas.  I attended Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, and earned a BA in Political Science with honours.  I then attended Notre Dame Law School in Indiana and earned a JD degree magna cum laude.  I practiced law with a large Dallas firm and became a partner.  After ten years, I left to practice solo and to write.  I have written six previous novels.  I live outside Fort Worth with my wife and two sons."

Rating:  6/5