Wednesday, September 6, 2017

R. Franklin James - The Bell Tolls - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

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 he collected, letting his victims off the hook. It falls to Hollis to give them the good news. But it’s revealed 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 meets 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 particularly financial ones.

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’ fiancĂ© 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.

My Review

San Francisco 49ers by 10.

That's John's safe text greeting. The one he sends to his girlfriend, Hollis, from his stash of toss-away phones whenever he's undercover, working for Homeland Security. It's just to let her know that he's okay and that he's thinking of her.

And it's sweet because Hollis isn't one to open up to people. Living in Oakland, she's somewhat of a workaholic at her law firm, not one to waste time chit-chatting or sharing anything significant about her personal life with co-workers. As far as she's concerned, she has John, her best friend and wise counsel, and that's all she needs.

Because neediness makes her feel inadequate. When it comes to needy people, she doesn't feel like she could ever give them the answers they're looking for, so she backs away from them. Yet when it comes to her relationship with John, she catches a glimpse into how needy people must feel inside. In fact, "she didn't want to think she needed him, but over the next month, it would be as if a part of her was in Washington" with him.

Then everything falls apart when she gets an actual phone call, not from John, but from one of his fellow agents, telling her that John's not coming back, that he died. And for Hollis, "the finality of that - the silence - left her aching and numb."

Her friends attempt to draw her out of herself, but she's having none of it. In her mind, "she didn't need friends. She needed John." She gets so closed in on herself that she doesn't even notice nature anymore the way that she used to, not taking the time "to gaze at the splash of color in the sky as the sun rose over the East Bay Hill."

A young colleague in the office tries to lift her spirits by telling her how he never takes one minute of the relationship he has with his girlfriend for granted, saying, "I asked her, what if I was her 'one' and she was my 'one'? Anything can happen tomorrow, but it's today that matters. We only get one shot."

Yet at the very end of the book, when Hollis's cell phone unexpectedly lights up, it raises the distinct possibility that maybe we don't get only one shot at love, maybe if we're lucky, we get two.


The Bell Tolls can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Genre: Women's Sleuth, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 239
Release: June 1, 2017
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812177
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

R. Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. From there she cultivated a different type of writing—legislation and public policy. After serving as Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles, under millionaire Richard Riordan, she went back to her first love—writing, and in 2013 her debut novel, The Fallen Angels Book Club was published by Camel Press. Her second book in The Hollis Morgan Mystery Series, Sticks & Stones, was followed by The Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club, and The Trade List. The Bell Tolls, book five was released in June 2017.

R. Franklin James lives in Northern California with her husband.

Links to connect with R. Franklin James:
Web Site

About the Giveaway

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  1. What a great review!! You absolutely got what Hollis is all about. Book one, The Fallen Angels Book Club gives the reader the raw beginnings of how essential it was for Hollis to put up her wall and her stories and steps leading up to book five -- The Bell Tolls. The wall is starting to show cracks. Thank you!

  2. I'm obliged for the blog article. Really Cool.