My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Price of Justice by Alan Brenham is a 2013 Black Opal Book publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Jason Scarsdale is a detective on the edge due to his wife's recent death in a car crash for which he blames himself. Instead of making the fatal decision to end his life, he vows to bring down the monster responsible for killing a young girl and to be a better father to his young daughter.
Enter Dani Mueller, a lawyer and crime expert that is also suffering the effects of heartbreak and loss after her ten year old daughter was murdered. She too is working on this volatile case. When Jason introduces his daughter, Shannon to Dani the two forge a bond. But, Dani has a complicated past and getting too close to Jason and Shannon may not be a great idea.
Jason is reeling from losing a court case which set a dangerous pedophile free and if that weren't enough, he is struggling with being a single parent and faces trouble from his former in laws who never really liked him in the first place.
Tension begins to mount as Jason discovers Dani could be a suspect and that she has gone to great deal of trouble to reinvent herself. Jason also finds his job is on the line due to an incident involving the DA who holds a grudge against Jason.
Already in a dark place and struggling to find light at the end of the tunnel, Jason will face the most difficult decisions of his life, with his job, his family, and his own conscience.
This is a very dark tale and not for the faint of heart. The subject matter is difficult to read about and I couldn't help but find myself relating to the anger the victim's loved ones felt and the outrage that came with watching the leader of a ring of pedophiles just walk out of court. If you put yourself in their shoes, really try to imagine how you would feel if this monster killed your child, could you honestly say the thought of taking the law into your own hands wouldn't cross your mind?
This is only one of the many thought provoking subjects the author addresses while managing to build suspense and tension with kidnappings and races against time.
Each chapter began with a quote and as a lover of quotes I found I only recognized a few of them. The quotes alone were deep and significant to each chapter and to the book as a whole. The deeply personal message in the book dealt with the father and daughter relationship that Jason had taken for granted prior to his wife's death and the realization that he had missed so much of Shannon's life already. He didn't want to waste a day of being with his daughter and giving her the love and protection she deserved from him. He will have to fight tooth and nail for the safety and welfare of his child, but Jason will reach deep inside himself and rise to the occasion.
I must say this was one of the best first novels by an author I have read in this genre in awhile. The author states in his bio that he does have experience with writing, but this is his first novel. Obviously, his experience with being in law enforcement and being familiar with the law worked in his favor as well. The novel is placed in the thriller genre and that's alright, it fits in this category just fine, but it could also work as a police procedural too. The most impressive thing for me was how well drawn the characters were. The secondary characters helped to firm up the bonds between the three main characters. Some of them are very likeable and others not so much.
Dani/ Karla was a very complex character, but deep down she was a good person. Some may find that difficult depending on one's feelings about certain things but I really liked her. I thought she was great with Shannon, and Shannon certainly felt a kinship with Dani that only a child could recognize in an adult. For me this book was certainly a thrill ride, but it was also a very touching story and that's kind of hard to pull off in this type of book. I think once the book has been read, you will find yourself thinking about it and all the various feelings it evoked. I cheered Jason on the whole way and you will just fall in love with Shannon.
All in all the author did a fantastic job with this one and so I can't deny it the highest rating I can give. A+ or 5 stars!
INTERVIEW WITH ALAN BRENHAM
I am pleased to have Alan join us today at The Book Review. Thanks for stopping by today Alan!
1) There are two stand out themes in Price of Justice. One is revenge and the other is the love between a father and daughter. Each chapter began with a quote that pertained to one theme or the other. How long did it take you to gather all those quotes? What were your sources?
Response: It took me about a month’s worth of part-time research until I had the ones I wanted. I visited numerous quote websites, using research terms that fit the chapter’s theme.
2) How do you personally feel about people taking the law into their own hands when the justice system lets them down?
Response: From the viewpoint of an law enforcement officer and an attorney, I’d sympathize with them but couldn’t openly condone it. How do I personally feel about vigilante justice? That’s a difficult question to answer. It would depend on the nature and circumstances of the crime. For sure, if it was a young child, I’d have the mindset that the offender got what he deserved.
3) Was Shannon's character inspired by anyone in particular?
Response: Not anyone in particular, but rather a composite of all my brothers and sister’s daughters when they were her age.
4) All of us have chosen to work or spend time engaged in adult activities when we could have been spending quality time with our children. Do you think fathers are more guilty of this than mothers and were you attempting to remind fathers to take time out to be with their children?
Response: I think in general fathers are more guilty than mothers. Since many fathers spend a lot of time away from home, the first person the child sees when he/she comes home from school or around the house is the mother. Growing up, my siblings and I saw much more of our mother since my father’s work took him to another city or part of the state or different state. I don’t know if I’d characterize my intent as trying to remind fathers to spend more quality time with their kids.
5) How did your experience with law enforcement and the legal system help you in writing this novel?
Response: I was able to utilize cases I worked both as an law enforcement officer and attorney as inspiration for some of the scenes and characters in Price of Justice. Also, being knowledgeable about Texas law and court procedures and what it was like to work the streets as a law enforcement officer helped immensely.
6) Once the novel was finished, was there anything you wish you could have changed about it?
Response: The ending. The first draft had Scarsdale and Shannon taking an unannounced trip to Germany to find Dani Mueller and try to convince her to come back. It wasn’t the Hallmark ending the novel has now.
7) Where can readers contact you?
Response: Readers can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will respond to any question as soon as I possibly can.
8) What are you working on now?
Response: I’m currently writing the revision for my third book titled Rampage. It’s a sequel to Price of Justice and follows themes of temptation and trust.
9) Print books or e-books? Dogs or cats? Coffee or tea?
Response: I have a Nook so eBooks appeal much more to me. I love German shepherd dogs and some cats. I love my morning coffee.
10) Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?
Response: It would be the quote in Chapter One in Price of Justice - "There’s no way out of the desert except through it".