Book Review: Chameleon by Zoe Kalo

CHAMELEON

By

Zoe Kalo

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Genre: YA/Gothic/Ghost/Multicultural

Word count: 55,000

Release date: February 2017

Premise:

Kicked out of school, 17-year old Paloma finds herself in an isolated convent in the tropical forests of 1970s Puerto Rico, where she must overcome her psychosis in order to help a spirit and unveil a killer.

Blurb:

An isolated convent, a supernatural presence, a dark secret…

17-year-old Paloma only wanted to hold a séance to contact her dead father. She never thought she would be kicked out of school and end up in an isolated convent. Now, all she wants is to be left alone. But slowly, she develops a bond with a group of girls: kind-hearted Maria, insolent Silvy, pathological liar Adelita, and their charismatic leader Rubia. When, yet again, Paloma holds a séance in the hope of contacting her father, she awakens an entity that has been dormant for years. And then, the body count begins. Someone doesn’t want the secret out…

Are the ghost and Paloma’s suspicions real—or only part of her growing paranoia and delusions?

My Thoughts:

A dark psychological thriller, this story has just the right amount of paranormal and psychosis to spook the reader a little. The story emphasizes on the bonds people form in life and how each one affects the person. Keeping secrets, guarding them at the expense of others’ lives also plays a major role in the plot line. The story is well written and will send chills down your spine at some places. It is easy to relate to some of the characters, their feelings and thoughts.

The author has a unique style of expression which is evident across all her works and is quite pronounced in this story. She has ensured that this book is as different from the others and that the reader will be hooked until the end. There is no stopping once you take the first step into the story.

As Paloma tries to deal with the death of her father, she encounters a group of girls who share strange bonds with each other at an isolated convent. She is sent there by her mother and step-father, with the intent of reform. Little does she know that she will stumble upon some well kept secrets that threaten to come out once she is there. Who knows to what extent a person will go to protect the ones they love and their secrets? The author also highlights the power of suggestion and how trust plays a major role in a persons life. As dark and tragic as this book may be, it has a lot of lessons that are relevant. Though a little slow on the uptake, give the story a chance and pursue it.

A wonderful read, with well developed characters, the right amount of darkness associated with them and the plot, this is worth a read!

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

About the Book:

The Girl on the Train

The debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

My Thoughts:

Wow. This is a mind blowing, brilliantly written psychological thriller that is literally a train ride! Written in the POV’s of three of the characters, with interchanging and different dates, the author weaves a tale that slowly brings all of them together.

At first, I kept losing track of the dates mentioned at the beginning of each chapter and hence ended up rather confused about the happenings. Rachel, the main protagonist, takes the train everyday and as she passes a particular station, she sees a house and it’s occupants everyday, to the extent that she had even given them imaginary names. Her husband, Tom left her to marry Anna and this did not sit well with her. The fact that they had a little daughter only made things worse. Rachel could not stop her growing dependency on alcohol nor the many times she called or emailed her ex-husband. She also lost her job and ends up constantly lying to the lady whose apartment she shares. Little does she know that she would see something rather shocking and then their lives would eventually meet and their paths would become extremely tangled.

The thoughts run deep, the psych playing a major role. Alcoholism coupled with anger makes Rachel behave rather unconventionally. The author slowly brings out the story behind each of the three women in the story and shows us exactly how deep the hurt goes. They are broken and seeking solace and trying to find themselves in any way that they can. When Megan goes missing, Rachel tries to figure out what happened, going back in her mind to the night when all the three women were supposed to have been in the same area. The police contact her when Anna, her ex-husbands wife sees a chance to throw her name out there and thus follows the rest of the plot.

The author emphasizes a lot on the train journey too and develops the story based on this spanning a number of days. She also describes, with intricate details, the events from the past that affected the psyche of her characters. With Megan, it is always dates in the past when compared to Rachel’s timeline. Though a little confusing, the author consistently maintains this trend and this lends some more intrigue to the plot. We are also treated to a dose of domesticity and how relationships are tested when things don’t go the way we expect them to. Can you trust your eyes and the things you saw? Is it possible to imagine a whole existence and life? These are just a few of the questions that reading this book will raise in the readers mind.

An overall thrilling and compelling read, this is another book in the style of Gone Girl that will have the reader hooked until the very end with an ending to shock. The starting may seem strange, the finish line stranger and in the middle, the reader is sure to get lost on the never ending journey of life much like that of the train.

Click the link below to get the book on Amazon.

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Book Review: A Game of Greed and Deception by John Mathews

About the Book:

A Game of Greed and Deception

She is young and beautiful, and recently married to a very wealthy middle-aged man who considers her to be the ultimate woman for him and holds her out as a model for his beloved 10-year-old daughter. They travel to a mountain hideaway to celebrate their first year together as a family when things begin to unravel. Her husband goes missing after a treacherous car accident, and the wife and daughter seem trapped and isolated, and stalked from both inside and outside the cabin.

What ensues is the story of a woman driven by her soulless greed and self entitlement, and a man who is wronged and apparently out to get revenge. This deadly game of cat and mouse will keep you on the edge of your seat. The macabre scenes include deadly traps and medieval torture devices, hidden doors, secret rooms, and an underground labyrinth of torture chambers. Add in the legend of a hoard of pure gold bars, and it becomes clear that someone has a much bigger plan in mind and will let nothing get in their way. But who? This is the story of a plot so devious that it is set up to fool the State police investigation. But can it fool you? Keep guessing until the final scene as to what is really going on and let your intuition guide you.

My Thoughts:

An unexpected story with lots of twists and turns, this book will have the reader craving for more. Tammy marries an older man, mainly for his money. As the story unfolds, she plans a romantic getaway to a remote, isolated place with her husband and his 10 year old daughter. Little does she know that there are unexpected troubles in store. When Stephen ends up in a car crash, Tammy expects that she will now get the money that she was eyeing. However, a snow storm, a crazy cabin in the snow covered mountain and someone stalking her adds suspense to the plot.

The authors has written the story well with narration mostly from Tammy’s POV. There is a lot of inner dialogue that she has with herself and through this we come to know of her past. I am not sure whether this helps justify her behavior but it sure does give the reader perspective. A fast paced thriller, this will have you on the edge of your seat. Every character we are introduced to, including the daughter, has a hidden agenda of their own. This adds to the mix and thus ensue a series of events that take the reader on a roller-coaster ride of murder, mystery and mayhem. We come to realize that the author has a bigger plan and everyone is just a pawn in his game with everyone being a master of greed and deception.

What will happen at the end? Read on to find out! A wonderful gift for fans of mystery and thrillers! Pick this book up and enjoy!

Book Review: Rule Number One by Rory Goodwin

About the Book:

Rule Number One (An Oswald Metzger Novella Series Book 1)

Set in Brisbane Australia, a disgraced Australian Football League Star is found dead on the day of his sentencing at the Brisbane District Courts in an apparent suicide.
Detective Baxter knows things aren’t always as they seem and decides to follow a hunch one last time before he retires. But before he can do that he also has one more score to settle.
Family man, Oswald ‘Ozzy’ Metzger is a regular bloke, loving father and committed husband driven by duty, love and honour. Following his heart and driven by what he believes in, being vegan, he doesn’t believe in violence but does believe in justice for the innocent.
Monica runs a crisis centre for women and children, when Detective Baxter comes asking questions she is faced with the confronting reality that all may not be as it seems.

My Thoughts:

This story is a novella, short and fast paced. When a Football player is found dead in the bathrooms of the courthouse, the day of his sentencing, an investigation is opened into the same. Speculation on whether it is a suicide or a murder are rife and in the midst of it all is Detective Baxter, whose aim is to wrap up this one last case before he retires.

In the course of the same, we meet Monica, who runs a crisis centre to help women and who knew the football player’s ex-girlfriend. What happens when you set out to investigate one thing, but while asking questions, you discover something more? The same happens as Detective Baxter follows up on a hunch. In parallel, we are introduced to Oswald, Monica’s husband. As a series of events unfold, the reader is taken on a journey with our very own serial killer with a conscience.

The story ends in quite a different way and this is one of the things that I enjoyed immensely about the book. The author went ahead with an unusual end. Of course some parts of the climax are cliche and expected, but for the most of it, the end was a good turn of events, making it worth the read.

As all the ends come together, the author gives us enough bait to keep us hooked on and waiting in the hopes that there may be another novella or novel to tell us what happens to Ozzy and Monica. The novella is good for a quick read and for those who enjoy the genre!

Book Review: Amelia’s Children by Greta Cribbs

About the Book:

Amelia's Children

In 1985 Amelia Davis is brutally murdered in the woods outside of Laurel Hill. Her killer is never caught. Thirty years later, David Jenson comes to town on what he calls “personal business”, though he won’t tell anyone what that business is. Could he have some connection to the town’s most infamous cold case?

Sarah Hathaway has just returned to her hometown in the wake of a failed acting career. When she meets David she is immediately drawn to him, but it is the mystery of what exactly brought him to Laurel Hill that keeps her up at night. Determined to find the answer, she embarks on a journey into the unknown that will change her life forever. Along the way she discovers truths about Amelia’s death that prove more sinister than anyone ever could have imagined.

Find the book on

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26872424-amelia-s-children

Amazon.in: http://amzn.to/2e37WM7

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Amelias-Children-Greta-Cribbs-ebook/dp/B01663954Q/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1477887054&sr=8-1

My Thoughts:

I am rather hesitant when it comes to reading books in the genre of paranormal fiction. I have read only a few books in this genre since the plots are sometimes rather hard to digest. However, when Greta contacted me regarding reading and reviewing her newly released Primogénito: The Fuentes Legacy I went on Goodreads to check out her page. It was through this that I came to know of her first book. The synopsis of the plot had me hooked.

The story is actually well written and though it  is in the paranormal fiction category, the concept was believable and well laid out. The plot follows David Jenson, who comes to Laurel Hill on “personal business”. He starts asking random questions and meets some people from the town. When he meets Sarah, she is drawn to him and her intrigue causes her to put some of the pieces of the mystery together. Her line of questioning makes David consider his connection to Amelia Davis, a lady who was brutally murdered thirty years ago, and who case was never solved. Throw in some strange occurrences and we have our paranormal part of the plot kick in along with the beginning of what might turn out to be a great romance.

The story is fast-paced, and the plot is rather clear. The author sticks to the same with no unnecessary deviation. There may be a few places where the plot feels slightly cliché, but it is easy to overlook this. However, a small point that stuck with me is that there is some amount of repetition of certain points in different places. It feels as though the author is trying to ensure that the reader has understood quite clearly and sometimes it becomes a little annoying. This doesn’t take away the focus on the story and the reader should just persist on and enjoy the journey. Overall, this is a rather enjoyable read and would be loved by everyone who enjoys this genre.

Book Review: Riker’s Calling by Rico Lamoureux

About the Book:

From school bullies to the crime-ridden streets of his hometown of Los Angeles, Jeremy Riker has always felt the need to do something about the injustice surrounding him. Just as he sets out on his journey as an urban warrior, he unknowingly gives rise to an obsessive adversary, who ends up becoming one of the most notorious serial killers the city has ever known. Dubbed by the news media as The Spyderco Killer, the methodical psychopath roots himself deep into Riker’s life for the long haul, until his own madness propels everything into an intense climax.

Get the book on amazon. Click the picture below.

My Thoughts:

 I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The first thing I would like to emphasize on is that this is a novella. A short read, packed with a fast paced plot, action and murder! Lots and lots of killings…. yes! you guessed right, we have a serial killer on the loose. Dubbed by the media as the “Spyderco killer”, he haunts our protagonist, Jeremy Riker. This about sums up the two main character’s in the plot.

The story starts off with an action packed scene, thus introducing our hero in a rather interesting manner. This is then followed by some of his history, an explanation as to how he got into his current situation. The author then introduces our serial killer, but keeps his identity hidden even from the readers. Until this point the story remains consistent. We meet many interesting characters who support Riker and the plot twists are intriguing in places.

By the second half, we see more deaths happen, people close to Riker are killed and it becomes clear that this is personal. However, the author doesn’t develop much of the investigation Riker conducts nor are we given any insight into his feelings or thoughts about what is happening. Riker seems to be dealing with everything rather differently, and for a PI, he is busy with other cases. Even though the second half seems a little bit of a let down, the story comes to a clear conclusion with the ending leading to a follow-up novella.

A little into the story, we are also introduced to Jamie, Riker’s “niece”, and we watch her as she grows from a little girl interested in her grandfather’s tattoo business to a young tattoo artist herself. She is also integral to the story, but doesn’t seem to contribute much. Here I think the author could have developed a little more of her role in the story.

Overall, in spite of some of the few hiccups, the story is a good read and can be read rather quickly. It is well written and the style of writing contributes well to the pace of the story. I would recommend this book to those who love a fast paced action thriller with some mystery thrown in.

Book Review: The Gauguin Connection by Estelle Ryan

Book Blurb:

The Gauguin Connection (Genevieve Lenard, #1)

Murdered artists. Masterful forgeries. Art crime at its worst.
As an insurance investigator and world renowned expert in nonverbal communication, Dr Genevieve Lenard faces the daily challenge of living a successful, independent life. Particularly because she has to deal with her high functioning Autism. Nothing – not her studies, her high IQ or her astounding analytical skills – prepared her for the changes about to take place in her life. It started as a favour to help her boss’ acerbic friend look into the murder of a young artist, but soon it proves to be far more complex. Forced out of her predictable routines, safe environment and limited social interaction, Genevieve is thrown into exploring the meaning of friendship, expanding her social definitions, and for the first time in her life be part of a team in a race to stop more artists from being murdered.
My Thoughts:
I picked up this book not quite sure what to expect. The synopsis speaks of an plot filled with action and some rather interesting characters. At first I was confused and the story seemed to move at a very slow pace. As I continued reading, however, the pace of the story seemed to pick up. The story has a good plot and well developed characters. However, Genevieve is portrayed as a perfect human being as well as highly intelligent. In some ways it is a little scary that someone can be that perfect, but overall, she does fit into the concept and the story well. Her carefully constructed routine comes crashing down when she is asked to consult on a case being investigated upon by her boss’ friend. This is followed by her encounter with and the introduction to our other protagonist, a thief who is now trying to find those behind the same murders. Working together, after slowly gaining Genevieve’s trust, they work to uncover the truth. What follows is a race against time to solve the mystery and prevent any more deaths.
After a while, the plot’s pace increases some and it becomes quite interesting. The author uses Genevieve’s condition very well and demonstrates her behaviour and that of the people around her as a result of this. The author also brings out the contrast in natures of the main protagonists and we watch as Genevieve grows from her usual recluse self to someone slightly more comfortable around people (within reason and some limits of course!). Though it feels as though a lot of emphasis is given to this and many a time there is repetition of things that have already been mentioned and explained, one can overlook this and read on without much discomfort. Also brace yourselves for a glimpse into the artistic world and some insight into certain artists and their style of painting. Overall this is a decent, one time read!

Book Review: The Nidhi Kapoor Story

About the Book:

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Nidhi Kapoor is a very successful, second-generation film star. She is the daughter of the great Nishant Kapoor, who came out of nowhere to become the first real superstar in the 80s.

The day before she is to start shooting for her much anticipated film, she comes home to discover her beloved pets killed mercilessly. Apart from the mangled dead bodies, the unknown assailant has left behind a letter threatening Nidhi, Nishant and their family.

ACP Prakash Mohile of the Mumbai Police is summoned to investigate the case. He asks Rujuta Singh, a photojournalist working on a photo-essay on Mumbai Police, to come along.

In the absence of any clues, Prakash and Rujuta are forced to dig into the past of Bollywood’s first family. Unknowingly, they stumble upon a violent tale of lies, betrayal, treachery, infidelity and even murder at Kapoors.

Little did they know that the murder of pets was going to be the first in a long sequence of attacks on Nidhi. The unknown assailant is adamant on taking away from Nidhi everything she holds dear – her family, her parental home, her career, her reputation and her life.

My Thoughts:

This book falls into the category of a psychological thriller. It highlights the various events in the life of an actor who was the star of Bollywood. Nishant Kapoor starts off as a poor boy looking to make it big and ends up as the star of Bollywood. The author goes into detail about the trials he faces and how his life changes. The story is set at a time when Nidhi, Nishant’s second daughter is at the peak of her acting career. The police are called in when her pets are found dead in the house and then follow what looks like sabotage.

As the investigation is on, we are introduced to two major characters apart from the people in the Kapoor’s family; ACP Prakash Mohile, an uptight person who takes his work seriously and has a wonderful track record, and a journalist, Rujuta, who tags along while working on her assignment on the police department. These two characters have been sketched really well by the author and are quite strong. The journalist is inspiring in many ways and shows that being a woman is no hindrance to what you want to do in life. Her aunt, who makes a small appearance in the story plays a pivotal role towards the end.

The Kapoor household consists of Nidhi, her older sister and their mother’s brother as well as Nishant who is brought back into the picture later on. The authors spins a sinister web of murder, betrayal, love and slowly reveals a plot that will keep the reader enthralled. As the investigation continues, the deeper they dig into the past, the more the truth about Nishant’s personality and his family comes to light. The climax of the story is brilliantly written with a good ending.

However, though the author manages to tie up most of the loose ends and neatly close the plot, there are a few things that remain unanswered. These however do not deviate from the fact that this is a well written story and will be enjoyed by those who love a good mystery or psych thriller.

I would like to thank the author for giving me this opportunity to read and review his book!

In conversation with Saurabh Garg

Saurabh Garg is the author of The Nidhi Kapoor Story. This is his first novel.
We have had the pleasure of interacting with him and here is what he has to say:
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1)     What/who inspired you to start writing?

I stumbled onto the entire concept of writing by chance. A friend told me about it. Then I started writing a blog. And I loved the feeling of words appearing magically on my notepad or on my screen. I got addicted to that feeling and before I knew, I was hooked on!

Plus, the fact that what I write, my thoughts, my ideas, could go to a larger audience made me take writing a little more seriously. One thing led to another and suddenly it was time to sort of take the plunge and write!

2)     Tell us a little about yourself.

Let me use a few sentences here. Actually 5.

I am from Delhi but live in Mumbai.

I am old but I still think like a 18-year old.

I want to just sit and write but have to go for a day job that pays my bills.

I want to stay rooted at a place but I want to never stop travelling.

I claim to a grammar nazi but I dont really have that strong a hold over my own grammar!

3)     What is your favourite genre?

Crime! And mystery. Lot of action. I am big fan of fast-paced stories.

And when not crime, I like to read biographies.

To be honest, I don’t get as much time to read as I hope to have. Whatever little I get, it goes in catching up on research for my next characters. So, I now get to read at most a book a week. Prior to taking up a job, I was reading upto 3 books a week.

4)     Which are the books and who are the authors you favour the most?

It’s a long list. The ones I can think of immediately are English, August by Upamanyu Chatterjee amongst Indian authors. Gone Girl is brilliant. I love To Kill A MockingBird. I am a big fan of Alexandre Dumas and especially The Count of Monte Cristo. I also like the Jack Reacher series.

I know its an eclectic mix. Blame it on friends who recommend books and force me to read them.

Sometime back I made a list of top ten books. Its at http://septemberthe22nd.blogspot.in/2014/09/10-books-that-have-stayed-with-me-over.html

5)     What are your hobbies?

I like to drive. I like to read. I love playing poker. I wish I could get better at it though.

Oh, I love to travel and I love talking to people. Having said this, will any of your readers, in some exotic country, want to host me in their homes for sometime? I promise I will not be a nuisance 🙂

More than hobbies, I have recently started with these 6-month projects. I pick up something and try to spend 6 months on it. If something good comes out of it, great. If nothing happens, I move on to the next one. The next projects that I am keen on taking up are swimming, guitar, yoga, get fitter and running. It’s a long long list!

6)     Perfect holiday destination?

Damn this is a wrong question. Here I am trapped in office and you are asking me to think of places to travel. But since I’ve agreed to answer your questions, I think the perfect destination for me is the road. I love the feeling of being on the road, headed towards I don’t know where!

But if I were to choose a location, I’d say any place that is cold. Like Himachal. Like Panchgani; I love it. I can totally retire there if I can. I want to go to North-east but haven’t been there yet.

Or the Nordics.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a bit. Of the places I’ve been to, I’ve loved San Francisco, Prague, Copenhagen and London.

7)     Describe a perfect writing day.

A perfect writing day would start at about 5. I’d go for an hour long walk. While walking, I would listen to my favorite music. I would then head to the nearest Starbucks and order a Java Chip Frappuccino. Plug in my headphones to my music and write.

I would write till noon. I would then have my lunch, go home, sleep for a bit. Without any alarms of course.

Whenever I wake up, I would want to go for a dip in the pool but I don’t know how to swim. Its on my to-do list for 2015. Come back from the pool, head to Starbucks again and write till it closes.

Of course a lot of this is wishful thinking. I neither have the luxury of time, nor I have unlimited bank balance to fund those 200 bucks a pop coffees. But then, as they say, you never know. I may just have it some day!

8)     Which is the best part of writing a story?

The ability to play God has to be the best part. I also love that my characters can do things that I can never do. If I can’t get the pleasure out of doing things, I can definitely get borrowed pleasure of seeing my children (aka characters) live through those experiences and emotions.

9)   How much inspiration do you draw on from real life experiences, with respect to plot, characters etc?

A lot! most of my characters are inspired by real people. I may or may not know them though. I tend to remember interesting people that I come across and when I write, I try to think of those interesting people and then mould my characters.

When I say a character is interesting, I mean there is something quirky, something memorable about it.

10)   Who among the characters you created do you like the most and why?

I don’t think I can answer this one. Every character, large or small, is dear to me. It’s like asking someone to nominate one of the children as your favorite.

Having said that, I probably will become a very bad parent. Because I definitely like Rujuta more than the others! Why so? You’d have to read the book to figure out.

11)   What kind of impact do your stories have on you?

My stories? Impact on me? Fair bit. Like I said, I want my characters to do things that I can’t, I tend to get lost in those stories. So while working on the stories, I get emotional if my character does not get what s/he wants. I get happy when they find the love of their lives. I fall in love when they see the person that they know, they will spend the rest of their lives with. Hope you get the drift.

For me, my characters are everything! Stories, places, plots dont really matter. What matters is characters. Thats where I start writing and that’s where I end!

Book links:

Death by Didgeridoo by Barbara Venkataraman

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Synopsis:

Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It’s up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it’s too late. It doesn’t help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn’t commit.

 

 

 

 

About the author:

Barbara Venkataraman is an attorney and mediator specializing in family law. She is the author of “The Fight for Magicallus,” a children’s fantasy, “If you’d Just Listened to Me in the First Place,” a humorous short story and two books of humorous essays: “I’m Not Talking about You, Of Course,” and “A Trip to the Hardware Store & Other Calamities,” which are part of an ongoing series entitled “Quirky Essays for Quirky People.”

Her latest works are: “Death by Didgeridoo,” and “The Case of the Killer Divorce,” both Jamie Quinn mysteries.”

 

My thoughts:

This is a relatively short story with a simple but interesting plot. Jamie Quinn, a lawyer is forced to finally come out of her depression to defend her cousin who has been accused of murder. It is up to her to find out the truth and prove that he is innocent even though he confessed to the murder. Jamie takes the help of a private investigator whom she had helped at the time of his divorce. Jamie has no experience of being a defense lawyer but that doesn’t stop her from trying.

The story is well-written, and though it could have been developed some more, it neatly ties up all the loose ends. It is a quick read and is entertaining. This book is definitely worth a read for those who like short murder mysteries.