The Bell Tolls by R. Franklin James is the fifth book in the “Hollis Morgan” mystery series. Publisher: Camel Press, June 2017
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 letting his victims off the hook. It falls to Hollis to give them the good news. But it becomes apparent 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 sees 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.
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’ fiancé 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.
Book 5 in the Hollis Morgan Mystery series, which began with The Fallen Angels Book Club.
Hollis goes above and beyond her duties when she finds herself yet involved in another murder investigation. And this is where her skills of detection shines as she pursues a killer who wants to remain hidden.
I love the writing style and the ease in how this multi-plot drama moves the story forward where every scene is an important element in the telling of this tale. The author did a great job in staging this mystery where the suspect list was small, but it was the clues that helped narrow down the field and boy, what an industrious group of suspects. The narrative was done with great aplomb and kept me engaged in all that was happening with this great cast of characters who played pivotal roles that led to the apprehension of the killer, which was a nice little twist. The subplot is what really drove this story for me, especially the heartbreak that Hollis faced and helping her estranged mother. After it was all said and done, the author pulled a good one with a surprising twist that I did not see coming and I can’t wait to how this will play out. This was the best book in the series thus far and I look forward to the next book in this entertaining series.