The Winners!#RBRT Rosie’s Book Review Team presents: The Gold & Silver Rose Awards 2016
*Cough* … On behalf of my team, I’m delighted to announce the winners and runners-up in the #RBRT 2016 book awards!
Books were selected from the several hundred submitted to our team for review over the past year, with the 24 finalists voted for by the reviewing team. These finalists were then offered up to the public for voting. Congratulations to the 8 winners and runners up!
A click of the book’s title will take you to Goodreads, where you can see reviews, and also leads to the Amazon, etc, buy links.
A great opening prologue sets the scene for the story as a young woman is pushed to her death from her twelfth floor balcony. Jeff Fenner, on the point of hitting rock bottom due to drugs and alcohol, has nowhere left to go. Finding out about his sister’s death while at the airport waiting for his flight home, through an article reported in the LA Times, leaves Jeff in shock and disbelief. Jeff is convinced his sister did not, would not, commit suicide, as the reporter apparently believes.
Holly Barnes has blocked out her nightmarish past, but is now in a troubled relationship with her abusive musician boyfriend. She desperately wants to turn her life around and make changes for the better. After attending a meeting of Save Our Lives, a group dedicated to helping people rediscover their true selves, she meets the handsome and distinguished looking Art Bradley.
Joe Greiner, a homicide detective, and Ron Pool, a reporter from the LA times and ex-alcoholic, who has attended several meetings of Save Our Lives, are both uneasy and beginning to question the verdict on Marilyn Fenner’s death. They find several very similar cases and so begins an investigation which uncovers depravity, murder and corruption.
I enjoyed this book very much, in particular the view points switching between the prominent characters and the smooth way their stories are woven together. The story threads are fascinating and lead into a dark, inventive and well written narrative, full of tension and suspense. Characters, even secondary ones, are well portrayed and believable, and the dialogue is realistic. There’s a manipulative and twisted antagonist behind the supportive facade he presents. Emotions are described in convincing detail.
The journey into the seedier side of LA society is in stark contrast to the sparkly glamour usually associated with the City of Angels and highlights the disaster people can make of their lives. But there is a way back, if the determination to recover is dominant.
Trust Me by Earl Javorsky is a crime thriller that snares the reader’s interest from the beginning. The novel opens with a prologue in which a woman named Marilyn Fenner meets an unexplained death and the reader is taken on a white knuckle ride before the mystery is unravelled.
Unlike most crime thrillers, this novel is not driven by a cop protagonist. Instead there are four main characters whose lives are loosely connected and become even more so as the plot develops. Jeff Fenner makes an unlikely hero as the drug dealing, heavy drinking brother of the dead Marilyn. He is helped to sobriety by Ron Pool, a journalist and ex-alcoholic. Ron Pool has rebuilt his life around health regimes and self help groups, much to the amusement of his hard bitten detective friend, Joe Greiner. Holly Barnes is another troubled character whose path crosses with those of Ron and Jeff at a self help group meeting.
It is Ron who first questions the official ruling of suicide on Marilyn’s death. He spots a link between a spate of so-called suicides and the self help group Save Our Lives (SOL). He calls on the help of Joe and there follows an investigation into a sinister world of manipulation and corruption.
At the heart of the group is Art Bradley, a charismatic therapist. His true character is gradually revealed as he gets his hooks into Holly, drawing her deeper and deeper into his world. It is this relationship that provides the novel with much of its tension.
One of the things I like about the novel is the fact that it is set in LA with a backdrop of the seemingly rich and successful party crowd. Javorsky uses his story to dispel our illusions of LA by focusing on a dark seam running through all the surface glamour.
He also explores the theme of mental health problems and the prevalent use of prescription drugs. He uses the characters of Holly and Jeff to demonstrate how easy it is for people to become disconnected from who they are and what they want. The popularity of groups such as SOL reflects the way in which people can become lost in modern society.
I really enjoyed Trust Me and if you’re looking for an exciting but thoughtful read that defies you to put it down then I recommend you give it a try.
Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team
Trust Me is a well written and cleverly plotted crime/murder thriller set in and around Los Angeles. The main character is Jeff Fenner, a heavy drinker and jaded coke/LSD dealer whose life is imploding as his addictions wear him out, and one piece of bad luck follows another. Running alongside is the story of deeply troubled Holly, who gets involved with SOL, the ‘Save Our Life’ organisation that purports to solve problems of addiction and psychological blocks by way of finding one’s ‘inner child’. At an SOL meeting she meets the mysterious Art Bradley.
Ron, a journalist, befriends Jeff; he is helping his cop mate Joe to solve a series of suicides-that-might-be-murders. Soon, the links to all storylines become clear—and there’s a great twist at the beginning of Chapter 27, at 44%; didn’t expect that at all, even though I had my suspicions…
I loved the character of Jeff, and Ron was another favourite; Art Bradley was scarily sinister from the off. Aside from the highly readable story, I liked the way that this book was amusingly scathing about New Age self-help psychobabble, and the comments about the unreliability of the field of mental health, and how doctors and psychiatrists dish out one medication to counteract the side effects of another, and then another, and another.
I haven’t got anything negative to say about this novel; it held my interest throughout, ends well, and isn’t predictable. For me, it just missed the spark that sends a book into the ‘5*, I loved it’ zone, but that’s only personal taste; it’s jolly good, I’d recommend it, and I’d definitely read more by this author.