Monday, September 4, 2017

R. Franklin James - The Bell Tolls - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

Hollis Morgan has survived imprisonment, received a pardon and persevered to finally become a probate attorney. Tough as she is, her newest case will further test her mettle. She discovers her client, Matthias Bell, is a deceased blackmailer whose last wish was to return the damaging documents he collected, letting his victims off the hook. It falls to Hollis to give them the good news. But it’s revealed that Bell was murdered, and the victims of “Bell’s tolls” are now suspects.

Hollis’ white-collar criminal past has left her with keen survival instincts. A gifted liar she knows a liar when she meets one. A lot of people in this case are lying and one is a killer.

On top of that, she’s also representing a dying stripper, a wealthy widow whose estranged daughter spurns her attempts at reconciliation, but whose husband sees the potential inheritance as mending all wounds particularly financial ones.

Clients aside, Hollis is defensive and wary. Her mother, who hasn’t spoken to her for years, needs a kidney, and Hollis is a match, but neither are ready to put away the past. With Hollis’ fiancĂ© and emotional support off on an undercover mission for Homeland Security, she must count on her own survival instincts. She is swept along on an emotional roller coaster as her absent love and her family’s coldness take their own toll.

Work is her salvation. The specter of a killer keeps her focused. Hollis has always had to rely on her wits, but now she finds that others who don’t have her well-being in mind are relying on them as well.

My Review

A fallen angel, that's how Hollis Morgan describes herself. After having served time in prison for committing insurance fraud, now she's on the rebound, trying to reestablish herself as a licensed probate attorney. But there are people out there who won't let her forget her criminal history, and they enjoy holding it over her head like a dark cloud.

At its heart, this book examines what it means to give someone a second chance, the sheer power of it. Everyone has something they wouldn't want the world to know about them, and the unlucky ones whose past sins are made public are left to shoulder that burden, sometimes for the rest of their lives.

That's why Hollis is the last one to point fingers at anyone. She proclaims, "I know what it feels like to lose the faith of family, friends, and society, and worse - in myself. I know what it's like to be shunned, and I know I'm not going to let a scum…hurt an innocent person."

So she becomes a crusader, looking out for the welfare of those who share her lot.

First, there's young Vince, the guy with a checkered family life, whose mom is constantly in and out of rehab. His new girlfriend works in the office and doesn't think he's good enough for her, so he bends over backward to try to impress her. Hollis understands where he's coming from and decides to trust him with some additional freelance surveillance work, giving him a temporary promotion out of the mail room, and hopefully a boost in his girlfriend's estimation.

Then there's Kiki, an ex-stripper, who Hollis is trying to help reconcile with her daughter before she dies. Hollis knows the two need to finally face one another because another arms-length, third-hand conversation isn't going to help matters. After years of being unable to communicate with each other, Hollis gets Kiki to admit to her daughter, "I knew from the very first time I held you in my arms I didn't deserve you. You were an angel, and I was...what I was."

What it all comes down to is healing by being able to let go of the lingering guilt and self-righteousness on both sides. It's all about taking a person at face value for who they are now, not who they were before. There's some small part in all of us that seeks some kind of closure with the past. Bottom line, who isn't grateful to be forgiven and given the gift of peace of mind?


The Bell Tolls can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Genre: Women's Sleuth, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 239
Release: June 1, 2017
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812177
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

R. Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. From there she cultivated a different type of writing—legislation and public policy. After serving as Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles, under millionaire Richard Riordan, she went back to her first love—writing, and in 2013 her debut novel, The Fallen Angels Book Club was published by Camel Press. Her second book in The Hollis Morgan Mystery Series, Sticks & Stones, was followed by The Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club, and The Trade List. The Bell Tolls, book five was released in June 2017.

R. Franklin James lives in Northern California with her husband.

Links to connect with R. Franklin James:
Web Site

About the Giveaway

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