Wow! I got interested in the Stan Turner Mystery Series with my first read, Deadly Dining (read that review). But Deadly Blood pulls readers into one of the most complicated, intense legal novels that I've read. Kudos to the author!
Stan Turner, a reluctant criminal lawyer, seems to always get pulled into cases that he is quite able to handle, but not his preferred choice. Nevertheless, he's good at it, and word is spreading. And, another lawyer is watching his latest case, trying to help, hoping she can maybe join in his future cases...
The latest case is a perfect example...somebody comes out, sees Lawyer Stan turner, and asks him to represent the child as her attorney-ad-litem. Simple enough so he takes it. Melody Monroe, an adopted child, has been taken into a home that is not the happiest, albeit a rich, beautiful home that is comfortable and she is well cared for. Finally, Frank and Marjorie are in divorce court, with Marjorie seeking a divorce. Frank is an alcoholic and often abuses his wife... In a normal situation, the decision would be easily closed and life would move on.
Before that can happen, Frank is found dead, a possible suicide, as he was still sitting in his truck with the engine turned on... And before the judge releases Turner from the divorce case, the police are asking him if he will continue as her legal representative for...murder... Melody Monroe has been charged with the murder of her father...
I enjoy Stan Turner, the main character and wish I could read the entire series. For this book, however, Melody Monroe, is the sympathetic character to watch. Earlier in her life, she was an exceptional gymnast and her parents were thrilled to support her. In fact, it was on their way to a meet when a terrible car accident occurred. Both of Melody's parents were killed. Melody was devastated that they were killed and felt great guilt in living. Even after her scars healed, she continued in deep depression. While she was in Child Protective Services, she was not allowed to grieve while she was shuffled from home to home, and sent back, due to what was called her bad attitude.
It must have seemed like a miracle to be going home, finally, with Frank and Marjorie, who seemed to be quite happy to have their new daughter to love and care for. I was happy to find Alisha Newton, who looked like the young teen on the cover, who I would pick to play Melody in the movie (surely there should be one). You might recognize her from the TV program Heartland.
If only Melody could have known what was ahead for her! Because, there was a "motive" for her to have killed her father...One that, if she had known it, had mattered little in light of finally having a home and stability...
...Mrs. Stone's (Frank's sister) openness and brutal honesty surprised me. Her resentment and bitterness had obviously been festering for years for her to blurt out such emotions to a perfect stranger.
"Oh, don't be. It's water under the bridge."
"so, were you surprised about your brother's death?" I asked.
She shook her head. "Yes and no. Frank was an unhappy man and his health took a dive on account of it. He smoked, drank too much and loved to party."
"Why was he so unhappy? Didn't he love Marjorie?" I asked.
"Marjorie was okay, but Frank didn't love her like he did Mildred. Mildred was his soul mate. Marjorie was more of a partner. They were both into real estate, you know. So, they were compatible, but it was more business than love if you know what I mean."
"So, he had trouble getting over Mildred?"
"Yes. He never got over her death."
"What about Melody?"
"Well, Frank didn't love her. They needed an heir, you know. What's the point of accumulating a lot of money and wealth if you don't have someone to give it to when you die? At least that's the excuse they gave when they decided to adopt her. That's why they picked an older child, neither one wanted a baby who would be a lot of trouble."
We continued to talk until it started to get late, so I thanked Natalie and left. My visit had been very informative but hadn't made me feel any better about Frank's death. It was just too convenient. I wondered if Detective Watson had misgivings too. I wished I had more time to investigate, but I was pretty sure my ad-litem appointment would be terminated very soon, and my job as Melody's attorney ad-litem would be over...
"Sorry to bother you again, but I need to know if you are going to represent Melody?"
"Well, like I said, I do represent her, but I'm expecting Judge Renner to dismiss the divorce today or tomorrow as being moot. So, I won't be Melody's attorney-ad-litem once that is done."
"I'm not talking about the divorce case," Detective Watson said irritably. "I'm talking about the murder charge she's facing. Are you going to be her criminal defense attorney?"
My mouth suddenly went dry. I tried to say something, but nothing came out. I swallowed hard and finally replied, "Ah, well, I don't know. This is the first I've heard of a murder charge against her. I thought it was a suicide..."
Twists, turns, and surprises move this book forward quickly and just when things are cooling down...another murder occurs! Yes, a double murder case in one book...with our Stan Turner taking charge in both. But even he was surprised as we move toward the closing. Unexpected, tense, and legal thrills at their finest. But the mystery is stronger than the thrills, even, as the author pulls our strings as each page goes by and has us guessing. No way could I have worked out the ending... And you know what that means...I love an unsolvable mystery book! And with the Double Punch of two different cases, we see Turner and his crew at their finest, trying to get ahead of the prosecutor's case! Don't let this one pass you by if you are a legal novel fan! Highly recommended...
William Manchee is an attorney by trade who practices consumer law in Texas with his son Jim. Originally from southern California, he lives now in Plano, Texas. In 1995 he began writing as an escape from his stressful law practice. Since then he has written over twenty-two novels. He is the author of the Stan Turner Mysteries, inspired by actual cases he has been involved in over the years, the Rich Coleman Novels, the Tarizon Trilogy & Saga, as well as other stand-alone works.
Amazon has not yet merged the different editions.
That makes them harder to find. My review is under the paper copy
Here is the cover for the ebook...