A Shattered Lens: A Detective Preach Everson Novel by Layton Green Review

A tragic murder brings the past hurtling at detective Preach Everson in author Layton Green’s novel “A Shattered Lens”.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A tragic murder brings the past hurtling at detective Preach Everson in author Layton Green’s novel “A Shattered Lens”. 

The Synopsis

A detective investigates the murder of a teenage golden boy that has rocked a small town–and the chief suspect is the victim’s mother.

Annalise Stephens Blue is a Creekville high school student with plans to become a world-famous filmmaker. As she begins filming an exposé of the town called Night Lives, she uncovers more than she bargained for: on the very first night of filming, she stumbles upon a murder in the woods, and flees the scene steps ahead of the killer.

Detective Joe “Preach” Everson is called to investigate the murder. The victim, David Stratton, is the town’s golden boy and high school quarterback. A modern version of what Preach used to be. Not only that, the boy’s mother is Claire Lourdis, a beautiful divorcée who Preach fell for in high school. She is also the main suspect in her son’s murder.

Despite the cloud of suspicion hanging over her, old feelings resurface between Claire and Preach, straining the detective’s relationship with his girlfriend Ari, a prosecutor in nearby Durham. As Preach delves into the secrets lurking beneath the surface of the town and searches for a missing girl who may have witnessed the crime, he must put his own feelings aside and pursue the answer to a terrible question: is a mother capable of murdering her own child? 

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The Review

For anyone who fell in love with the first book in this series, one of the first things readers will notice about this incredible sequel is how personal the story feels in comparison to the first story. Rather than tracking a growing serial killer, the story focuses on the unsettling death of a high school student, and showcases the struggle an investigator feels in a small town setting when the victim’s mother is not only someone Preach knew, but once had deep feelings for. Exploring the personal struggles of the detective and the hardships of finding the motive for the crime makes this a truly engaging story.

On top of the murder mystery angle of the narrative, it was fascinating to explore modern day criminal organizations and shady dealings that go on in rural or small town American cities. Showcasing a growing criminal element in this small town and seeing the chaos and corruption threatening the lives of a young girl who becomes an unwilling witness to a heinous crime, the author does a fantastic job of making this story relatable and more emotionally investing than even the first book, which is not an easy feat for anyone who loved book one in the Preach Everson series. 

The Verdict

This is a phenomenal murder mystery series that continues to both entertain and engage readers on a personal and emotional level. With relatable characters that instantly draw the reader into the story and a truly gripping murder mystery that will draw readers into many different directions until the shocking revelation at the books end, this is a novel that deserves your attention. Be sure to grab your copy of “A Shattered Lens” by Layton Green today. 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Layton is a bestselling author who writes across multiple genres, including mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, and fantasy. He is the author of the popular Dominic Grey series, as well as other works of fiction. His novels have topped numerous lists (including a #2 overall Amazon bestseller) and have been nominated for major awards, including two finalists for an International Thriller Writers award. Layton is also the co-editor of International Thrills, the online magazine of ITW (International Thriller Writers).

In addition to writing, Layton attended law school in New Orleans and was a practicing attorney for the better part of a decade (even though he still resents having cut his hair for that first interview). He has also been an intern for the United Nations, an ESL teacher in Central America, a bartender in London, a seller of cheap knives on the streets of Brixton, a door-to-door phone book deliverer in Florida, and the list goes downhill from there. Currently based in Durham, North Carolina, Layton has traveled to more than sixty countries, lived in a number of them, and has a burning desire to see every country, city, beach, moor, castle, cemetery, twisted street and far flung dot on the map.


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Interview with Author Joseph Amiel

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been a writer since Fourth Grade, when we were required to hand in a story every week.  I loved it. Even while working as a lawyer I continued to write.  An agent read three chapters of my first novel, now titled STALKING THE SKY, and sold it to a top publisher within ten days.  Magic!

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I had an idea for a short story, a murder mystery, and put aside what I was working on to write it.  I found I loved the form: Completing a novel could take a year or two, but I had finished the story in only a few days.  It’s the second in my new collection DEATH CAN DELIGHT: A TRIO OF MYSTERIES.  Almost immediately an intriguing title for a new story popped into my head, THE GIRL WHO SPOKE VENTRILOQUISM, but I had no  story.  While agonizing over possible characters and plot and getting nowhere, inspiration came in the form of a sudden recollection of the trip I and my family had made the year before to Ireland.  I have no idea where that unexpected recollection came from, but instead of dismissing it, I was aware enough to realize my subconscious had just presented me with the structure I had been searching for.  The third story was suggested by an incident involving Donald Trump: He was alerted by his lawyer that the pre-nuptial agreement with his new wife was about to expire and any divorce after that could be far more expensive.  His shocked wife soon received divorce papers. That story, the last of the three, is titled DEADLINE DIVORCE.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I’m a story teller, someone who writes to entertain and perhaps enlighten an audience of readers with an engrossing tale.  I named this collection DEATH CAN DELIGHT: A TRIO OF MYSTERIES because my purpose in writing the stories was to entertain my readers with wit, humor, drama, and surprises; as the title says, to delight them.  Their reaction and the book’s reviews suggest that the stories do that.

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4) What drew you into this particular genre?

The stories in the collection are murder mysteries.  I think almost every fiction writer plants mysteries of some sort in his/her work to keep the reader turning pages.  Murder, the whodunnit or whydunnit of that drastic act, provides the material for the most engaging mysteries with the highest stakes for the characters–and the reader–which is why book-stores shelves are packed with murder mysteries, All of my novels have a mystery at their core, several indeed murder.  My initial idea for JUDGEMENT DAY, about a judge everyone in town would kill if they could, led me to write it and then the other stories in the murder-mystery genre.  I don’t doubt I’ll be writing more stories in the same vein.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

 If I could sit down to converse with any character in the book, it might be Kyra, the sixteen-year-old high school student who narrates JUDGEMENT DAY.  I would want to know if the outcome of her and her family’s action against the judge, whom she had hated for a year, brought her satisfaction.  I have no doubt that what she ultimately did with that narration in the story’s surprise ending had to leave her “delighted.”

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Although I’m on Facebook [Joseph Amiel Author] and now Instagram [josephamiel9087], I would have to say that being able to communicate so quickly with my many followers on Twitter has been the most effective of the social media formats [@JoeAmiel].  Also I would guess that being able to get out the word, rather than waiting for people to find what I’ve posted, suits my personality.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

We live in an age when a neophyte author without an agent or an established publisher can put his/her work on Amazon and hope to develop a readership.  Crucial to continuing to write is believing that your work can be seen and not deposited in a desk drawer.  My advice about the actual writing is to do it, every day if possible.  One friend said he had a novel in him if he could only come up with the right first line.  I told him to start with the second line and just start writing–he would be rewriting everything anyway, probably even his precious first line.

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8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

As long as senility doesn’t set in, I’ll continue to write novels and short stories.  Story tellers have to tell stories.

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About the Author

Joseph Amiel is a novelist and screenwriter, as well as a lawyer. His novels include: HAWKS, BIRTHRIGHT, DEEDS, STAR TIME, and A QUESTION OF PROOF, which have been translated into over a dozen languages. His screenplay GAMES has recently been honored at several film festivals, as has his comedy series for the web AIN’T THAT LIFE.

He was graduated from Amherst College, where he studied English and creative writing, and from Yale Law School. He is married and has two children.


Death Can Delight: A Trio of Mysteries by Joseph Amiel Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A short collection of stories brings about three mysteries that delve into the various motivations behind taking a life in author Joseph Amiel’s Death Can Delight: A Trio of Mysteries. Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

3 murderous mysteries! 3 mystifying murders! A trio of stories imbued with the wit, drama, complexity, and surprises that characterize author Joseph Amiel’s novels. 

In “The Girl Who Spoke Ventriloquism”, a U.S. army vet intent on killing a man who committed a vicious crime meets an enchanting violinist performing in a Killarney pub. She can’t speak but, oh, does he get an earful from her talkative friends! Their next stop: Ireland’s Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival. 

“Judgement Day” centers on Kyra and P.B., teenage girls raised by lesbian moms who have been a couple all the girls’ lives—until P.B.’s mom walks out with her to marry a man! And not just any man, the one everyone in town would kill if they could. But some things should be kept within the family. 

In “Deadline Divorce” a billionaire divorces his wife just before the expiration of their pre-nuptial agreement, cutting her off without a cent. When hubby dies without a will and his now ex-wife stands to inherit nothing, her hustling lawyer swings into action. He hasn’t got a clue.

The Review

While a short read, the novel hits readers from the first pages as the character driven stories of murder bring the reader to attention. Exploring the motivations that drive people to murder, themes of passion, love, family and greed take center stage as the reader finds themsleves going back and forth between hating the victim and challenging the killer’s morality. 

The author does a fantastic job of questioning what, if anything, justifies death. While society cannot allow itself to condone murder, are there people in this world who deserve death? The author forces the reader to ask these questions and see the lengths these characters are willing to go to in order to exact their own form of “justice”. The buildup to the deaths is emotional and inviting as it allows readers to get to know the would be killers, and in the aftermath of the crime either readers will find themselves empathizing with the killer or killers, or shouting in frustration and shock as the true motivations are revealed. 

The Verdict

A novel of questioning morality and intense crime thrillers, the author really does a masterful job of creating memorable murder mysteries that will keep readers engaged and talking well after the stories end. An intriguing look into the crimes that often go unreported and the people who take it upon themselves to right wrongs, “Death Can Delight” is a masterful murder mystery short story collection that deserves to be read. Be sure to pick up your copy of Joseph Amiel’s novel today!

Rating: 8/10

About the Author

Joseph Amiel is a novelist and screenwriter, as well as a lawyer. His novels include: HAWKS, BIRTHRIGHT, DEEDS, STAR TIME, and A QUESTION OF PROOF, which have been translated into over a dozen languages. His screenplay GAMES has recently been honored at several film festivals, as has his comedy series for the web AIN’T THAT LIFE.

He was graduated from Amherst College, where he studied English and creative writing, and from Yale Law School. He is married and has two children.


Murder in the Heart of It All by Michael Prelee Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

An aspiring journalist finds himself in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a disturbing individual in author Michael Prelee’s Murder in the Heart of It All. Here’s the synopsis:

Someone is angry in Hogan, Ohio.

Residents of the small town are plagued by vicious, anonymous letters. The personalized notes land in mailboxes with devastating effect, revealing secrets and deeds better kept unknown. Whoever the sender is, they know the town and the people who live there.

Reporter Tim Abernathy is assigned to the story and tasked with finding out who is sending the letters and why. The letter writer doesn’t want to be found, however, and will kill to keep his secret.

A cat-and-mouse game ensues between reporter and letter writer as the violence escalates, shocking the residents of Hogan. Can Tim discover who is terrorizing the town before becoming the next victim?

I absolutely loved this book. To me it felt like a commentary on the anonymous nature of those who the world has deemed “online trolls”. In a sense, it showcased the overwhelming harshness these individuals faced that made them this way, while also showcasing the painful ramifications these hurtful comments or in this case, “letters”, have on those receiving it.

The story itself was well developed, and the characters themselves were incredibly engaging. It was refreshing to see a change in the typical “journalist” character. Normally in stories involving journalists they are eager to get the story by any means necessary, often hurting the people involved in that story. However Tim was a thoughtful, kind hearted individual who worked not for his own gain, but for the good of his community. The story also showed how easy it is for people to go to such violent extremes, and how fear of discovery can turn a harmless troll into a violent madman.

In the end this was a thought provoking and engaging read. This thriller allowed us to analyze the anonymous nature of the internet through the lens of a small town setting. Substituting emails or comments for letters, this story showed the power words have in our society, and how we can step above and beyond the pain we endure to become better people. Everyone experiences pain of one kind or another. It’s how you handle that pain and move forward that defines you. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Michael Prelee’s Murder in the Heart of It All today!

Rating: 10/10



The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins Review:

Not since reading Gone Girl have I read such an addictive narrative surrounding a murder-mystery and a roster of characters that all hold possible
motives for being the killer. That’s what you’ll feel when you begin reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. The thriller showcases a
complicated story involving three women, each tied to one another in unexpected ways.

Rachel rides the same train every day. She passes the same stretch of homes day and night, and she always watches a young couple, whom she’s
fantasized about and created this perfect relationship in her head, one which mirrors the one she recently had before it collapsed before her
eyes. However, one day she witnesses something shocking for a brief minute while on the train, and what she sees propels her into a whirlwind
investigation that will have the police questioning her reliability. When this wields no results, she’ll immerse herself into the lives of
everyone involved, and she will discover not everything is what she thought it was as the mystery grows.

Getting to witness the story from multiple perspectives, from the view of the missing woman and a young housewife to Rachel herself, makes this
one of the most interesting reads in the thriller genre. Everyone is a suspect at one point or another, and the complicated history that Rachel
takes with her into the investigation makes it a tantalizing tale. This is a mystery that everyone will be clamoring to solve, so be sure to pick
up your copies of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins today!

Don’t Say a Word (Strangers Series)  by Jennifer Jaynes Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author and Booklover Catlady Publicity in return for a fair and honest review.
Many thanks!

Before I get into how amazing a story this book is, I feel I must make to notes at the beginning of this review. First of all, I love the work
of author Jennifer Jaynes and thought this was a fantastic book. Secondly, as I’m sensitive to how people can be triggered by reading certain
storylines, I feel I must say that if you find you are susceptible to being triggered by storylines involving mental health and plots involving
cutting, then be warned that this book delves into both these topics wholly. The book doesn’t use these topics haphazardly or force them into
the story without precedent, but I wanted to put that warning out there before anyone decided to read this book. Now that that’s done, let’s get
into the review.

This is the third book in the Strangers series by Jennifer Jaynes, and yet Don’t Say a Word can easily work as a stand-alone novel, doing a
phenomenal job of integrating the events of the first two books as a backstory in the character of Allie Callahan, a single mother who’s haunted
by her past, with both her mother and brother suffering from mental illnesses and made them into serial killers. Now with her son Sammy to keep
her focused, she finds herself with a fragile form of happiness living with her son and adoptive mother in East Texas. However, her world will be
put to the test when 12-year old twins Zoe and Carrie arrive on her doorstep, traumatized by the murders of their mother and father. When mysterious
phone calls and a rising body count come to light, and the girls remain troubled by what they witnessed, Allie must face her fears as she hopes
she won’t succumb to insanity and loose her happiness once and for all.

The book has a phenomenal mystery that does a wonderful job of delving deep into the true nature of mental health, and sheds the misconceptions
that mental disease equals bad or evil, which is something that has been distastefully used in popular media in recent years. The twisted thriller
explores some great themes, from family and genetic disposition to self-worth and motherhood. Fans of the series will enjoy getting this new
glimpse at protagonist Allie, while newcomers will enjoy the heart-pounding adventure as the truth behind the murders of the girl’s parents comes
to light slowly. This is a must-read novel that has phenomenal and real character development, and makes this writer excited to see more from
author Jennifer Jaynes in the future! Be sure to pick up your copies of Don’t Say a Word today!