I’ve been busy… I have this huge technical edit I have been working on which is keeping me up all hours of the night, so I’ve hardly been able to read at all. I woke in the middle of the morning (after working all night) and couldn’t sleep, so I grabbed my reader. I was going for the lighthearted story on the menu, and accidentally chose this book instead. I would have put it back and chosen the lighter book – but the first paragraph grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let it go. I was hooked.
“I’m not a killer. Or a savior. I’m just one person trying to repair the broken scales of justice one jagged crack at a time.”
All Good Deeds won a bronze medal for ‘mystery/thriller’ at the 2015 IPPY Awards. In my mind, she deserved a gold medal. And a big gold medal from the whole freakin’ country for pushing this horrific issue out there in a novel that broke my heart and made me want to hug Stacy Green for being such a courageous woman.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled review.
Lucy Kendall is a lot of things. Daughter of a self-absorbed mother. Younger sister to a suicide. Child Protective (Gack! Choke. Gag.) Services ex-employee. Private Investigator. Serial killer. And for the last one, more than anything else, Lucy Kendall is my hero.
You see, Lucy Kendall kills pedophiles. Pedophiles who have been run through the system, over and over, and gotten away with it. Who are still doing it. You see, pedophiles cannot be cured. Not gonna happen. For you see, pedophiles don’t think they are doing anything wrong. So, they destroy lives, souls. They rape and maim and destroy, and feel themselves justified. “Perhaps he felt he was born this way, or that he was entitled. But I doubted he spent hours agonizing over his choices. That’s not how his mind was geared.”
These are the people Lucy Kendall kills.
I cannot truly enunciate just how deeply I felt about this book. I loved it. True, Lucy is viciously torn about the work she does, no matter that she knows what she does is the right thing. The “system” certainly isn’t going to do anything about the monsters who creep through the dark. And with the advent of the Dark Web, well, being a pedophile is easier than it has ever been. Lucy knows that she can’t stop them all. But she can do her bit, no matter how small, to clean house in Philadelphia.
“There are very few people who are going to look into the mirror and say, ‘that person I see is a savage monster;’ instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do.” – Norm Chomsky
Lucy gave up when the young boy who she tried to keep in prison after he raped and slaughtered a little girl was released. He didn’t even have to register as a sex offender. He simply walked away, scot-free. Free to move into a neighborhood where children abound.
And now, little Kailey Richardson is missing. And things become more complicated, more horrific, than even Lucy can comprehend. Things fall apart. The center does not hold. And the more they fall apart, the more the flow of the past and the future blend and merge into whole new horrors.
Again, this book absolutely blew me away. In a small way, because I was abused as a child as well. But my abuse was mild compared to the horrors children these days are forced to endure. The fact that humans can do the things they do to children pretty much guarantees, to my mind, that there is no ‘god figure.’ If there is, the sick SOB is one twisted piece of work. And Lucy puts it well when she talks about death.
“It’s the nothingness. . . Whenever life ends, it just quits. We literally cease to exist. Every single one of us. . . . There’s no blackness, no tunnel, no sinking into oblivion. It’s literally nothing.”
Lucy watched it happen. Watched the light go out. And felt the emptiness after. And, if they aren’t going to suffer in a Christian hell, well, Lucy will see that they suffer before the light goes out of their eyes. You GO, Girl!!!
Argh. Every time I think about the children out there, the ones who wind up in dumpsters or shallow graves, I despair. Especially when our police and courts can’t do a blasted thing about it. When eyes and minds are closed to the issue. Closing your eyes, sticking your fingers in your ears, and going “La la la” isn’t going to make it go away. The one who sticks in my mind the most, who still gives me nightmares, is the little boy my police department found tied under a bedroom sink, battered, bleeding from brutal beatings and rapes, who had his penis wired off to keep it hard. He had been licking the dirt off the floor in an attempt to feed himself. Believe me, Lucy is doing a community service.
There are several books in this series about Lucy, the people who help her, and the cop who, well, read the darn book already!!! Then read the next, and the next. And maybe go volunteer for your local shelter. Maybe you too can save a child from a pedophile?
The more laws, the less justice. — Marcus Tullius Cicero
The law has no compassion. — Christopher Darden
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aroostine Higgins has done something I didn’t think could be done. She made me read a ‘lawyer book’ – and actually fall in love with a ‘lawyer character’. Awesome. You have to realize, I have no patience with the American (or any other) “Justice System”. Because there is no “justice” to be had. Frederick Douglass had it right, all those years ago: Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe. And it hasn’t gotten any better.
Aroostine is Lenape, one of the tribes of Native Americans the white man destroyed. They came in, stole the lands, murdered the people, and the ones they didn’t murder they shoved onto reservations in the poorest lands possible – barren, useless lands no one else wanted. And then? And then, they stole our children. Aroostine is a Lost Child. Her grandfather took her when her parents died. Then, when her grandfather died, she was taken by a white family and raised white. She has no history, no connection with her peoples. But that is about to change.
Aroostine, an attorney with the DA’s office in Pennsylvania, and her husband Joe, are in Oregon, trying to piece their lives, and their marriage back together. This is the second in a series, I really hate that I missed out on the first one – I will be going back to read it. Apparently, Aroostine was an up-and-comer in DC and her hubby Joe, a master carpenter, was a jerk, unable to handle her success. Things happened, but this volume, while touching on the happenings, doesn’t ruin my reading of the first book. I will catch up when I read “Critical Vulnerability” – which I will read.
Aroostine’s vacation is interrupted when her old boss, Sidney Slater, Director of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, – the man who threw her under the bus on their last case – asks her to check in on an embezzlement case on the Chinook Reservation. Well, injuns’ is injuns’, right? (Crossing eyes) Surely she will ‘fit in’ and be able to find out why their whistle blower has clammed up. So much for a vacation. And when Aroostine walks in to her whistle blower’s house to find him dead in his chair with a bullet between his eyes, it begins a tightly paced story of mystery, murder, and ultimately heartbreak that kept me enthralled.
What really interested me was Miller’s grasp of life on the reservation. Her characters felt ‘real’ and her of a mindset so very different from the white mans was surprisingly believable.
I will be reading the first in the series, and placing the series on my watch list for new installments.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. If you are a mystery lover, you should check it out.
ABOUT the author
I’m Melissa F. Miller, author of the Sasha McCandless legal thriller series and the Aroostine Higgins legal thriller series. I’m also a practicing attorney. When I’m not in court or on the playground with my three delightful children, I’m hard at work on my next novel.
None of us are who we were. Do you think I’m the same person I was before seeing my best friend killed? Before stepping over Marishka’s body and the bodies of her murdered children? Before seeing you face down in the dirt? Do you think I don’t see corpses in my sleep? Do you think that hasn’t changed me?” – Hope Shane, Reckless Endangerment by Amber Lee Easton
Hello All. As is easy to tell from my last blog post and others, I am deeply interested in finding ways to help injured war veterans and their families. As such, I try to nudge my readers to pay attention, to learn about things like PTSD and the horrors and devastation of war. It isn’t just the bodies of those who fight for us that are injured. Minds and souls are often damaged beyond repair. Families break apart, soldiers return from war only to realize that they are no longer able to function in society, tortured by their memories. Suicide is common, as is winding up on the streets, living in alleyways and suffering even more pain as the very country they served turns their back on them.
I haven’t read this book, but as I was checking my messages on Twitter, I came across Amber Lea Easton and her book, Reckless Endangerment. Reading what the book was about, I knew it had to join my To Be Read shelf. Here is the blurb and an excerpt. If you get a chance to read it, or if you already have, please shoot me an email and let me know what you thought about it, and I will do the same when I get a chance to read it myself.
Reckless Endangerment Blurb:
Heroes come in many forms–soldiers who fall and rise and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Sometimes heroes fall and take the ones they love down with them. Colonel Michael Cedars and reporter Hope Shane fell in love in a war zone, but then the world blew up, and splintered their lives in two.
Michael Cedars returns home from Afghanistan wounded and unsure where he fits in this ‘new normal’ of civilian life. Unsure if he’ll walk again, he questions his abilities as a man, husband, and father. Accustomed to giving orders, he’s thrown into a world where he doesn’t know the rules anymore and no one is respecting the officer in the room.
Hope isn’t one who gives up easily—not on her marriage and not on the innocent victims of a human trafficking ring she’s investigating. As the danger of her story intensifies, she struggles with her own post-traumatic stress disorder and a husband who resists her love.
Danger intensifies as Hope searches for truth and justice. Everyone she loves is at risk. Will her reckless pursuit of the human trafficking ring jeopardize their lives?
Michael knows she needs him, but doubts his ability to be the hero she still believes him to be. Is he still the man she married or has he become a liability that could get her killed?
Although this book is marketed as romantic suspense it also covers some serious issues, such as people trafficking and post-traumatic stress disorder, adding further depth to a book that is rich in plot and personal conflict already. Nothing prepared me for the literary quality of this novel. Regular romance and suspense fans get more than enough here to be satisfied by the great chemistry between the main characters and the intriguing story lines. However, if you – like myself – want a little bit more out of a book than you will find it in the well-handled and insightful passages about trafficking and PSD, issues that are handled with care rather than in an exploitative or decorative manner.
Easton clearly cares about what she writes and it pays dividends, her book is surprisingly impressive and certainly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Gritty At Times, Realistic, With An Immensely Satisfying Romance and Mystery
By J. Faltys “Joder”
By the end of Reckless Endangerment I can sum it up by saying it’s Triple-H……heartbreaking, heartwarming, and heart-pounding. It’s full of likable and fully fleshed-out characters, realistically depicted issues related to the aftermath of war, and it presented a fast-paced mystery surrounding human trafficking that kept me on the edge of my seat. It shows that atrocities not only occur in faraway lands but outside our front door as well. As two people deal both mentally and physically with the hand war dealt them it’s only through love and acceptance that true healing can begin and a HEA can be fully achieved
5.0 out of 5 stars
I love this book! The author did a great job of writing a contemporary novel with all the twists and turns that make it impossible for you to put the book down!! I am really impressed with the author’s use of hard hitting problems facing today’s society and integrating them into the story line. This is not just another cookie cutter, predictable romance!! I highly recommend this book for all who looking for a novel with a little something extra!
Excerpt From Reckless Endangerment:
“I’m sick of not having a say in what I do or don’t do. You can’t do this. Just because I’m trapped in this chair doesn’t mean I don’t have a say about my life and I want you out of it. Get the hell out and leave me alone. I don’t want to be married to you and, unless something’s changed in the good ol’ USA, you can’t stop me from divorcing you. Listen closely, babe. I. Don’t. Want. You.”
Rage consumed him. Rage for what could have been, what should have been, for a life lost. Rage for everyone acting like he had no rights anymore, like he couldn’t make his own decisions. He tossed the wedding ring and pictures across the room.
Looking horrified, she covered her mouth with her hands and walked to where the frames smashed against the floor. As she bent, her bag spilled, contents ranging from liquid soap to a flashlight scattered across the tile. She fell to her knees, hands shaking as she scooped up the items. Broken glass crunched beneath her. Hair shielded her face from view, but he knew she cried.
He remembered another time with her on her knees when that bag had saved his sanity. Bombs had rocked the walls. Blood had dripped into his eyes. Dizziness weakened his legs. From that bag, she’d retrieved bandages, protein bars, and bottles of water. He had thanked God for her and that oversized bag.
“I’ll make sure I call next time,” she said in rushed, quiet voice, “wouldn’t want to inconvenience you.”
“I’m sorry.” He dropped his hands to the arms of the chair and stared at her bent head. “I don’t know how to handle any of this anymore, Hope, especially you.”
She froze at his words. “Especially me, huh? I’m the one constant in your life, if you haven’t figured that out yet. Despite all the bullshit, here I am. Me, stupid me, still needing you as much today as I did a year ago.”
His chest caved in at the sight of her eyes glistening with tears. He wanted to take it back, every word.
“I don’t know how to do this, how to be married, how to be back in the States, how to be a civilian again, how not to walk,” he admitted.
“You break my heart,” she whispered.
“How could I possibly break your heart?”
“By not seeing how strong you are, how much you mean to everyone in your life, how worthy you are to be alive, how heroic you’ve been, how much I love you.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Maybe I need to stop trying to hold on. Maybe you’re right.” Sighing, her shoulders slumped. “We were this close,” she held her fingers an inch apart, “to having a life together when everything blew up in our faces. Literally. What else do I have to lose, right? I already lost my dignity when I begged those damn bureaucrats to let me see you in Germany. And when I say begged, I mean I begged, pleaded, bartered, whatever I could possibly say or do to get in and they told me that you,” she pointed at him, “said no, you told them I lied about being married to you. McGee backed you up. I looked like a fool and a liar.”
“I’m sorry,” he whispered.
“Now you’re doing it again, denying me. You’d rather sit in this place alone than admit to the world that I’m your wife. It’s true.” She nodded, gaze gluing him in place. “I gave up my everything for you. My life. My pride. My dignity. I gave it all up for you.”
“Why?” he choked out the question. “I did everything to get you to let me go. I don’t want you to give up anything for me; can’t you see that? You were born to be in the spotlight, dodging bullets, charming your way into and out of trouble. I’m an anchor to you now; you know it but refuse to admit it. I want you to forget me. Why won’t you let me go?”
She closed her eyes, face tilted toward the ceiling. “Because maybe I went crazy over there. Maybe we weren’t this close,” again with the fingers, “to having a life together. Maybe we were already there. Maybe it wasn’t conventional, but it was real, it was us. Maybe I misunderstood sex for more. Maybe I thought that our wedding meant as much to you as it did to me. Maybe I’m the biggest fool to walk planet earth.”
“But now I’m broken so…”
“Yeah, that’s right.” Nodding, she looked away and brushed the back of her hand over her eyes. “And I’m too shallow to be the person you need, right? Too superficial? I know the truth. I know that you should be capable of limited mobility, that you are not trapped in that chair, that you have sensations in your right leg and have even managed to stand for a brief period of time here and there. Didn’t you think I’d do some research on your injuries? I may have kept my distance, but I have a knack for getting people to talk to me, remember? Yes, you’re in a wheelchair, but your situation isn’t hopeless. You’re the one who gave up, but for the life of me I don’t know why. It’s not like you. You’re a goddamn colonel in the Marine Corps. You don’t surrender, so what’s going on with you?”
Her words stung. He had heard them for months now and he didn’t know the answer. He couldn’t explain anything to anyone, not even himself.
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published fiction and nonfiction author. Smart is sexy, according to Easton, which is why she writes about strong female characters who have their flaws and challenges but ultimately persevere. She currently has six contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels out in the world: Kiss Me Slowly, Riptide, Reckless Endangerment, Anonymity, In Between, and Dancing Barefoot. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to suicide prevention, awareness, and helping others navigate the dark journey of grief.
In addition, Easton works as an editor, freelance journalist, and professional speaker. She speaks on subjects ranging from writing to widowhood. Some of her videos on romance writing have appeared on the international Writers & Authors television network. Current radio appearances are linked via her author website, http://www.amberleaeaston.com.
Easton currently lives with her two teenagers in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where she gives thanks daily for the gorgeous view outside her window. She finds inspiration from traveling, the people she meets, nature and life’s twists and turns. At the end of the day, as long as she’s writing, she considers herself simply to be “a lucky lady liv’n the dream.”