Since I became an indie author, I have made a decision to support other indie authors whenever I can. Indie authors are the future of publishing (see this post for the reason why) and I want to support every one of them. However the fact of the matter is that most indie authors are not that great when compared to the top traditionally published authors.
Despite its failings and its inevitable demise, traditional publishing has, with varying success, managed to separate some of the wheat from the chaff. As an avid reader of crime fiction I have got to love the work of some of the greats: Michael Connelly, Lee Child and Simon Kernick are my three faves at the moment and if you have not read them, you really should—Kernick especially. So it is natural that whenever I read an indie crime fiction book I compare it to the works of my faves. Most do not get close.
Well, I have recently come across two exceptions: Rachel Abbot and Fingers Murphy.
Like me, Rachel has one book published and a second book in the works. (We also share England as our place of birth, although I have not lived there for years.) Her novel, Only the Innocent kept me engaged from the very first page. It opens with the murder of a popular and charismatic millionaire and philanthropist but as Abbott’s Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas peels back the layers of secrecy surrounding the victim, he uncovers some very disturbing evidence and ends up having to make a Soloman-like choice between enforcing the law and seeing justice done.
Abbott employs a clever device to inform the reader of the backstory. Over the years, the wife of the victim has written a series of letters to her best friend which she has never mailed. When her best friend appears in the book and reads the letters we learn more and more about the characters and their motives.
I give Rachel Abbott five stars for Only the Innocent. I found the characters engaging, the plot good—and quite disturbing in places—and the tension throughout kept me turning the pages until late into the night. My only negative was that I found DCI Douglas to be a bit bland; I hope that Rachel improves this character in her next book.
Fingers Murphy is a pseudonym for a prominent lawyer. I have often found books by lawyers more about the law than about having an interesting plot. Murphy does not fall into that trap. In my humble opinion, he is every bit as good as John Grisham and Scott Turow and better than most of the other lawyer/writers whom I have encountered.
He has written three novels and a novella. I have read his first novel, Follow the Money and am currently deep into the sequel The Flaming Motel.
In Follow the Money, Murphy introduces his protagonist Oliver Olson, a newly graduated, top of his class, law student, who is serving a summer at a highly prestigious LA law firm. He is assigned to a pro bono case involving a former senator who is in jail for a crime he claims he didn’t commit: the gruesome murder of his wife.
The plot takes many twists and turns and at one point Ollie finds that his own life is in danger.
Ollie Olson is an engagingly flawed character who struggles with issues from his past and with the disconnect between his desire to see justice done in the world and the realities of practicing law at a high end firm. As a poor boy from a working class background he becomes seduced by the lifestyle offered by the firm (they pay him, a summer student, $160,000 per year and give him a big bonus to commit to joining the firm full time).
Follow the Money is a real page turner that you will love if you like legal thrillers. I am finding the sequel, The Flaming Motel, every bit as good.
P.S. I finished The Flaming Motel and it is every bit as good as Follow the Money.
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