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Best Friends - Julie Ellis

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1 Review

Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Julie Ellis / Edition: 1st World Ed / Hardcover / 192 Pages / Book is published 2000-02-25 by Severn House Publishers Ltd

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      25.05.2011 17:50
      Very helpful



      Good murder mystery

      .Synopsis of the book:

      Kathy Marshall feels her life in just beginning, with a new business venture, her two children both married; memories of her unhappy marriage are now behind her. Her life takes another horrible and sad turn when her son in law is murdered and her daughter Marcie is accused of it. Having been found standing over him with her prints all over the murder weapon.

      Kathy really needs her friends around her now and school friends Angie and Ellen help provide support and advice to her. They persuade Scott Lazarus a lawyer who has given up criminal law to concentrate on Real Estate to take the case. He had been very successful in this field but preferred the quieter life in Madison two hours away from the hectic life and pace of New York.
      Their first job is to try and get Marcie bail. There seems no reason why anyone should want to kill Frank, until Marcie advises them he was opposing development of the town as he believed there were extremists in the town and it was somehow linked with them. Despite managing to get bail for Marcie, there is talk that if found guilty of this crime the death penalty will be brought against her. Can Scott find what really happened that day and why people are suddenly against this unfortunate lady?

      My thoughts on the novel:

      Overall I enjoyed this Detective style novel. I found it a real change that a suspicious murder was investigated by a Criminal Lawyer, rather than another character that does not have any knowledge of the Law. For me it makes the investigation far more credible as if a proper Detective cannot do it a lawyer would have more insight than Joe public.

      However I didn't find this piece of fiction plain sailing. As for me the author fell between two stalls and failed to completely satisfy either. On the one hand we had the murder inquiry, which was good if a little far fetched at times. On the other you had the changing lives of three very good friends and what triumphs and disasters they befell. I thought the author should either had stuck with the murder story or told the story of these women's lives. As the story of what had and was happening to these ladies slowed down the crime story and often seemed totally irrelevant to it. But at the same time the story of these women's changing lives and relationships was equally interesting. So that I would like to have had more depth on it so I could really get to know and understand the characters within it.
      In some ways it is surprising this is only the second novel I have read from this author. That is because Julie Ellis wrote 57 books before passing away in 2006. This book was one of her later ones written in 2000, but in some ways her insight into extremist terrorism and the threat it posses to all communities is very relevant to all us today.

      The title to this book for me was wrong as it encompassed less than half the story and not even the main story at that. To be honest when I purchased this book my decision was made after reading the summary on the inside cover. It was a good three paragraphs long and made the story sound intriguing, but in retrospect I feel it was also a little misleading as it talked about Lee Ramsey and how she was involved in Marcie's murder trial. When in actual fact I would describe Lee as one of the minor characters, who played a very small role in what happened. That said I thought the summary was intriguing and got me interested immediately in the story.

      Although on the back cover of the book I did find a pet hate of mine. Praise in general for the author work. I would always rather see what journalists and writers thought of this book not others in him or her career. That said at least it was made very clear that it was about her work in general so it was not misleading in the slightest.

      Probably because the murder was announced on the second page of the story I immediately was engrossed in the story. I like murder stories that the investigation starts quickly, as it allows much more time for it to be solved and in this case many more avenues to be explored. I liked the concept behind the story of against the odds and the apparent evidence her mother needed to find out what really happened and save her daughters life.

      I enjoyed the way this case split a small community in two, especially when it was suggested that there was a terrorist cell now present in the community. I found this aspect of the story fascinating and the difficulty in proving that this group existed.

      However at the same time the story followed not only Kate but also her friends Ellen, Angie and the Lawyer Scott, plus Lee Ramsey working as the District Attorney. So we got an insight into how all these key characters where thinking, their motivations and what was going on in their lives. And while they were all interesting characters and had very different lives and worries I did feel by going into details about this did detract from the main murder story.

      I found I did get a little confused about who was who especially early in the story and what relevance what I was being told had to the murder. Especially as the author would take you from one scene to the next involving a different characters often with only a new paragraph spitting them and a small gap between them.

      Although to give the author credit she did explain things clearly and while initially I could not see why the District Attorney was one of the main characters later I could see the link between the women. It was a clever link and that is probably what I will remember particularly about this novel the marvellous way the author skilfully used her characters in the process of gaining and sharing knowledge about the town, the people and the crime.

      The pace of the story increased in the second half of the story as the focus increased on finding evidence to prove Marcie's innocence. This I enjoyed, as there was a lot happening, but not only that there was unexpected occurrences and good twists in the story. The concluding paragraphs in particular were very exciting and I was never sure what lay around the final corners of the book. I enjoyed the conclusion and I thought the reasoning behind it all was explained well and made complete sense.

      That said while I did enjoy it I would like to have more of an update about what happened next to the main characters in the story. As I felt the author finished it too quickly and left several emotional issues not resolved. Leaving the story with a feeling that it was not as polished as it could have been.

      The lead character was Kate Marshall, who I found an interesting lady. Not for me the strongest lead, but still a gutsy one. While she was doing everything to help Scott prove her daughters innocence I did think the author laboured the point of the chemistry between the two of them. I felt she was emphasising too often how love can happen at any time in anyone's life and probably when you least expect it you meet someone amazing. As Kate had decided having had a difficult and unhappy marriage she never expected to have feeling again or to fall in love. For me this relationship was quite sweet but lacked credibility as the writing was on the wall the whole time.

      Scott was the other key character for me. I enjoyed his approach to finding the truth. He was a good, kind man who seemed to have dropped all his office Real Estate clients in favour of helping Kate find the truth. He was always using his contacts to find out information and not afraid to get involved himself in some of the pursuit of the truth. The two characters interacted well together and I enjoyed the intelligent and thoughtful conversations they had.
      All the other main characters were interesting as well. Maybe there was one or two too many as I found myself frustrated when we left the murder story to follow the latest exploits in their very different lives. Yes this was interesting and I enjoyed the depth the author used but I found it irrelevant to the murder story. Maybe if the murder wasn't the key element these three women and the District Attorney's stories would have been more interesting and their shared histories more enjoyable.

      When I researched this novel I could only find it in hardback version. Thus making it quite expensive, although on Amazon I found a used copy for just £2.08 plus p&p. The books length was a little short for me and I would have liked a prologue and an epilogue as a little initial background and a post conclusion would have made the novel seen more complete.


      For me this was a very good and enjoyable read. While I liked the shape and direction the murder investigation took, I did feel the author concentrated too much on the lives of Kate's friends, which was largely nothing to do with the main story. It was always well written with enough happening within it to be interesting and quite exciting.

      Other information:

      Hardback version:
      Pages: 192
      Price: £2.08 (used)
      Publisher: Sever House (March 2000)
      ISBN-10: 0727855344
      ISBN-13: 978-0727855343
      More about the author: http://www.julieellis.net/

      Thank you for reading my review.

      This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.

      ©CPTDANIELS May 2011.


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