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IN DOUBT: A Legal Thriller ~ Drusilla Campbell

Monday, December 8th, 2014

“She had participated in making herself a victim.  That was what shamed and silenced her.” (Page 138)

The writing craft of the author is what kept me in tune with this good piece of fiction, also the fact that I was driving right through the area of the story on the Redwood Highway (101) while reading the book made it fun.  I figured out the ugly truth of the story early on, but the plotting and movement of the themes made the story grab hold.

Campbell kept working on the theme of family relationships, how psychological factors play into an ugly situation, how far back the pain can originate; the human relationships and situations were vital to the story line and comprehension.  How do childhood events shape lives and change the trajectory?  What happens when the community decides the verdict and there is a mob response and vicious threats included?   How mean can people be in our current environment and how does that play out in a community?

From the cover:

“Defense Attorney Sophie Giraudo is about to open a new practice in her California hometown when the beloved governor is shot during a celebration in the town park.  The only thing more shocking than the crime itself is the identity of the would-be assassin: a seemingly gentle teenager named Donny.”

I recommend IN DOUBT for all those who enjoy a good suspenseful thriller because it is defined by a solid premise, finely crafted writing, interesting, and I think many people will enjoy the story because of the family dynamics and psychological reveals.  I think the lawyer had to be a woman for this story to find the drive and produce understanding for the reader; it made it hard to leave the story and do other activities.  I recommend this story to those who do not normally read legal thrillers because the story is not overwhelmingly violent, there is so much more depth.

“Drusilla Campbell is the author of the critically acclaimed novels When She Came Home, Little Girl Gone, The Good Sister, Blood Orange, The Edge of the Sky, Wildwood, and Bone Lake.  She had crossed the Pacific Ocean three times before she started school, and in her twenties lived in Europe and Central American.  Today she is happy to stay home in San Diego with her husband, attorney and poet Art Campbell, and their two rescued dogs and three horses.”

DrusillaCampbell.com 
Drusilla Campbell died of cancer October 2014
She won the San Diego Book Award for her last novel.

Larissa sent me a copy of this book.  It contained the study guide for book groups
Larissa Ackerman|Claire McKinneyPR, LLC
41 Main Street Suite B, Chester, NJ 07930
larissa@clairemckinneypr.com / 908-955-7579
Thank you for the opportunity to read this story and share my thoughts.

I work at being concise in my reviews because I just hate reading lengthy reviews and those wordy plot destruction spoilers.  I just want to tease your reading appetite while giving the reader a nudge.

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DIALOGUES OF A CRIME: a Novel ~John K. Manos

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

“Guilt.  A different sense of themselves.  I don’t think there are all that many people who can kill someone and just never think about it again.”

“’It’s not just a matter of chance,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘It’s where you are and the people you’ve got around you too.’  He realized that this line of speculation applied more often than not and in more situations than he cared to acknowledge.”


Dialogues of a Crime starts off with a young college boy being arrested in a drug sweep of college campuses in 1972.   Michael the young man in question is a hard working scholarship student in Illinois who is unjustly sentenced by a judge and an incompetent Public Defender to 30-90 days in a medium security prison. They are determined to teach him a lesson.  Ten days after arrival Michael is brutally beaten and raped by 3 prisoners and spends the remainder of his time to serve in the Infirmary.  As Michael is leaving the prison, he passes the 3 evil perpetrators and suggests that two of the men will experience a gruesome death in the future.

Those gruesome death threats are played out and 20 years later the third perpetrator who was not threatened is hoping to save his skin in another murder case and re-opens the investigation into what happened.  He speculates and accuses.  The State Attorney’s Office sees an opportunity to take down a Chicago area Mafia boss, because Michael’s best friend since 4th grades is the son of this crime family leader.

The majority of the book is the interrogations of all the people involved.  So the book is a series of conversations which happened in 1972, 1994 and 2003. My Kindle Fire HD reader said that it would take me 11 hours to read this book (about 300 pages)   It is the kind of book I dislike so I pushed the accelerator to the floor and finished it in 5 hours.  I know that there are many of my readers who just love this suspenseful kind of story and the psychological underpinnings; how so many ideas become leads and how the information gets interpreted and individual discoveries.   I completed my first internship in a County Sherriff’s office, I worked in a drug rehab center, and I have talked with more rape victims in my counseling work than one can imagine.  It is hard to free my mind of this kind of knowledge and I find no fascination in this particular kind of read.   Dialogues of a Crime reminded me how brutal humans can be to each other.  I had to watch a fun lecture before I could go to bed and find rest.

I am left with the same question that Michael has throughout the book, he asks his Mob friends why they all talk like the mobsters in the movies and what is the point of that imitation?   Yes! What is the point of the stereotypical, imitational language?

tlc logo TLC Online Book Tours shared this PDF copy with me for review.  The psychological interpretations and the investigations are interesting. The writing does not get in the way and was the part I thought was quite good.    It has left me feeling so sad and wrung out; I will let other readers decide for themselves about Dialogues of a Crime.

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THE ALLIGATOR MAN: A Legal Thriller ~James Sheehan

Monday, November 4th, 2013


In THE ALLIGATOR MAN a very drunk, wealthy, greedy man takes a late night walk and is a victim of a hit and run driver.  He is splashed into the swamp, there is a gator feeding frenzy and nearly everyone was happy about his demise.  But is that really the case?

A young defense attorney is making a name for himself and his pockets are jingling with the rewards and yet, his boss is becoming very upset with him and his growing celebrity status. The young man learns something unsavory about his boss and the law practice; of course something about himself also.  Why was he really fired?

A middle aged man loses everything when the big company in town folds; his pension, his house, his income, his best friend to suicide and his wife to cancer because the health insurance is gone too.  He must fend for himself and his 2 children and after 20 years the losses are great.   He heads off to see a man who was like a father to him as a boy, and discovers this fine small town lawyer is dying. What is he going to do to recover?

THE ALLIGATOR MAN is very fast moving, exciting, and doesn’t waste words on petty details that are not rugged and propelling the story forward.   There are plenty of words about fishing, wildlife in the Florida swamp land and courtroom finesse.  There is no fear of emotion in the writing and the old tales about the civil rights movement are just wonderful asides.  There is power and speed in this book.

I was not sure that I would like THE ALLIGATOR MAN as I was concerned it might be too graphic or over the top bloody, instead I found it to be a good read; I was really in touch with the characters and their struggles and problem-solving.   I very much liked that the two main women in the story were smart, capable and understood themselves.  The book has some good twists and turns; it really moves at quite a pace.  I think even reluctant readers would like THE ALLIGATOR MAN.

James Sheehan’s Website
James Sheehan on Facebook

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TLC online book tours asked me to review this book and Center Street Publishers sent me a copy and I thank them very much for the opportunity to read THE ALLIGATOR MAN

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site, I will receive a few blooms for my bouquet.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

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