The Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club by R. Franklin James is the third book in the “Hollis Morgan” mystery series. Publisher: Camel Press, May 2015
Hollis Morgan is a survivor. She married young to flee an unloving family and ended up in prison, paying the price for her charming husband’s embezzlement. After finally obtaining a California judicial pardon, Hollis has climbed the ladder from paralegal to probate attorney at a respected law firm in the Bay Area. Unfortunately her first two cases are trials by fire. One involves a vicious family dispute over a disinheritance of family members who seem ready to stop at nothing to get their share. The other is the murder of her former parole officer, Jeffrey Wallace, whose will and family trust she is retained to file with the court. Too many people have motives and family mourners are few, so she resists processing the estate.
Without Jeffrey, Hollis’ successful reentry into society would never have been possible. It was he who introduced her to the Fallen Angels–his other white-collar ex-parolees seeking a second chance. The book club they formed was a comfort and a distraction, until two murders forced them back under the scrutiny of the law. The group disbanded during the ensuing investigation. Now, realizing their debt to Jeffrey, they come together once more, determined to uncover the truth.
Although Hollis has met a great guy–a police detective who knows about her past yet accepts her unconditionally–she is afraid to trust again. Naturally he doesn’t want to see her put her life in danger for the sake of a case, but he also knows she won’t stop until Jeffrey’s murderer is discovered. As both cases heat up, Hollis finds that probate law can bring out the worst in people and sometimes expose a killer.
This was very enjoyable. I like the way the story flowed easing me into a drama that quickly accelerated as time was running out and the need to know what was behind the murder was top of mind. I like the premise of an attorney and friends who are white collar ex-cons getting together to help the police solve their friend’s murder and of course there’s more going on that is uncovered as the story progresses. The author’s use of the plot twists that appeared gave me pause and made the telling of this story much more rewarding, especially the widow’s reason for why she did what she did. I like the way the author portrays Hollis a strong and determined protagonist; guarded yet shows a vulnerable side which keeps her grounded. This fast-paced, action-filled drama propels you to the end in this exciting mystery that leaves you wanting more. This was a great read and I hope there are more exciting challenges to come with Hollis and her friends.