Monday, August 15, 2016

Kenneth Eade Gets Readers Involved in Home Owners Association Business...of Murder...

Orange Grove was a pleasant modern community in Goleta, California. A former orange orchard, it was a small development, with fresh air and rolling hills. Four different models of tract townhomes, one attached to the other, repeated themselves in different combinations to line twelve perfectly manicured cul-de-sacs. Breezy blues, avocado greens, tilled tans, and cozy creams decorated the exterior of the nearly identical rows of houses, and filled the sleepy bedroom community with a pleasant palette chosen by the developer. Driveways sculpted within twin patches of green led to automatic rollup aluminum garage doors. At a touch of a button, you drove into your garage. At another touch of a button, you were greeted by the soft lights of your own private sanctuary, your castle.
Barbara Densmore was a busybody. Ever since she had learned how to use her nose, she had a terrible habit of sticking it into everyone’s business. Barbara had many acquaintances, but no friends to speak of; nobody who would really stick their neck out for her in time of need. Nevertheless, for a resident living in Orange Grove, staying on Barbara’s good side was the best way to avoid a tremendous headache...Barbara entered the small development, and drove the streets, waved to the neighbors who were out in their yards and stopped to chat with some of them. But her real motivation was to find violators of the HOA rules. She had, of course, memorized all of the pesky rules, and kept a little notebook to make notes of whose lawn was overgrown, who left too many cars parked in the driveway, and who had changed the color of their curtains. Today was a non-eventful day. There were the usual infractions that had not yet been abated, but other than that, it was a picture of perfect compliance. 
“Happy birthday Barbara!” called out Frances Templeton, the VP of the homeowner’s association, as Barbara drove by. Barbara stopped to chat with Frances for a while, finished her rounds, and pulled in to the driveway of her perfectly compliant townhome.
Barbara parked her white Toyota Prius in the driveway, and walked up the beautifully tailored walkway to her front door. On the porch was an exquisite bouquet of red roses wrapped in cellophane, with an impressive red ribbon tied around the vase. Attached to the plastic wrap was a card. Barbara smiled, and opened the card. It read, “To a dear neighbor.” 
Barbara lifted the bouquet into her arms, opened the door, walked in, and set it down on her kitchen table. There must be two dozen roses here, she thought. I wonder who on earth sent them? Barbara was eager to get a whiff of her beautiful bouquet, and equally eager to find out who had sent it to her. The possibility of a secret admirer was titillating, and awoke in Barbara the old memory of teenage romance. She tore the clear wrapping off to smell the flowers. As she did, a cloud of white powder popped up from the roses, covering Barbara’s nose and mouth. Barbara sneezed as she accidentally inhaled it, and coughed. She quickly found the culprit; the package of rose food had a large tear in it. She examined the label and, determining it was not harmful, threw the offending package in the garbage with the discarded cellophane. There was another envelope of it that she tucked into a drawer in her kitchen.

HOA Wire
A Brent Marks Legal Thriller

By Kenneth Eade

I've had the experience of being in a Home Owners' Association, fortunately just for a small group of homes during my working years. It has its good and bad points. For me as a single woman, I had help in dealing with matters of roofing, painting, etc., But having to keep your home per a set of rules and regulations does put another layer of headaches on each I was especially sympathetic to the home owners.

Headaches for owners was especially the case in Orange Grove, where Barbara Densmore had been elected President of the HOA...

For Barbara, the power behind the position of President was exactly what Densmore wanted and be able to be the busybody that she was naturally, and not have anybody be able to stop her! She knew all the rules by heart and would routinely "patrol" the neighborhood listing infractions. Yes, she gave out tickets! Whoa! There were good reasons that her neighbors didn't like her and stayed away from her as much as possible...

The nightmare had begun with the
 color of their house. A year ago,
 Nancy and Burt received a notice
requesting them to paint the exterior
of their townhome, which included
 a detailed list of instructions.
They just turned over the
instructions to their painter,
and asked him to
 paint the house the same color as
 the one down the street.

One woman was even avoiding her...she knew she was probably going to be asked to vacate her home for failure to pay the required dues... But she needed time to pull the money together...

Nancy Haskins opened the door, her hands full of mail. Nancy’s little Chihuahua, Nelson, immediately jumped on her as she sorted through the bills and put them into the “pay” and “wait” piles on the small table by the entry. Since Burt had passed away, it was all on her now. Electric bill – pay, mortgage bill – pay, water bill – pay, property taxes – wait. No more money. Nancy was 73 years old. She and Burt, who was five years older, had been living under the financial umbrella of social security. But when Burt took ill, Nancy couldn’t afford to quit working her regular job as a real estate agent. Retirement for Burt and Nancy was always more of a joke than a dream.

Nancy and Burt had been having problems with the Association since they had unknowingly painted their home a different color from the original. Not only did they have to redo the painting, things had been difficult from then on. And Then Burt had died and Nancy was trying to adjust to his loss and keep things going financially, but it was hard. So hard that she knew she couldn't handle everything. She needed a good lawyer. Fortunately she found one in Brent Marks,
Because before long, Nancy was being charged with the murder of Barbara Densmore! Sam Waterston is my choice for playing Brent Marks (when Sam was younger and playing early Law and Order). I've been watching all Law and Order and other similar legal shows for many years. So, the first thing I do when reading a legal thriller is to start picking up all the potential legal clues...and I got the important one... will you?

Marks moved quickly to stop the action on foreclosure that had been placed on Nancy...and won... Thankfully!

Because when the murder charge was made, Marks was able to refer to the fact that they had stopped the legal action before Densmore had been killed... Or, at least it was a stumbling point for the prosecutor to deal with...

But Marks had started his own investigation of the murder, knowing that the primary way to defend his client was to solve the case.

Readers begin to hate Densmore almost immediately. Not only was she, acting on the authority of the HOA, ready to throw a 73-year-old widow out of her home, but we soon meet a couple who had lost their son and wanted a living tribute to him. They planted a tree in their front yard. You guessed it, the HOA wanted this couple to remove the tree! On and on it went...they were finding issues that could have led to a decision to get rid of the HOA President!

There was an intriguing twist to the determination of the manner of death that had Marks going against the decision of the ME. Marks won--he's good, right?! But...

No matter how the case was going there were problems all along the way, things like Nancy calling out that she wished death, loudly, and in front of other people...
The Santa Barbara Courthouse was a brilliant piece of California Spanish Colonial architecture that had been in place since the days of Clarence Darrow. It was a lovely building with arched corridors and an exquisite courtyard garden. It was so beautiful, that one being forced to jury duty there may actually enjoy it. Brent loved having a trial there because he felt as if he could feel a whole century’s worth of great minds who had tried cases there, like Melvin Belli and F. Lee Bailey. These adobe plastered and wood paneled walls had heard scores of brilliant and eloquent orations throughout the years. 
The old wooden benches in the spectator gallery gave the courtroom more of a church feel than a courtroom. Brent and Nancy settled into their chairs at the counsel table just after the doors of the courtroom opened. Brent got out his master trial notebook and turned to the outline for voir dire, a set of questions he had prepared to ask potential jury members. Judge Hanford Curtis, the judge assigned to the trial, had already heard all the preliminary motions in limine. He was a firm but soft-spoken African American jurist, who had been on the bench for over 20 years. There would be no business today except for choosing a jury. Bradley Chernow came in and took his seat. There were only a few observers in the galley.

Ok, Brent Marks was really showing off in this trial...he had gone to school with the prosecutor, and made every effort to confuse and irritate the man. He did it so well that we the readers sit back and simply enjoy disruption after disruption, at least until the Judge would get involved. I loved these scenes!

But one thing you shouldn't do, you shouldn't assume the case is over...until the book ends! I was frustrated, knowing something was not handled... But, what a cool, significant twist to bring about justice! The ending was worth my frustration just to see this savvy it all! Highly recommended...


Described by critics as "one of our strongest thriller writers on the scene," author Kenneth Eade, best known for his legal and political thrillers, practiced law for 30 years before publishing his first novel, "An Involuntary Spy." Eade, an up-and-coming author in the legal thriller and courtroom drama genre, has been described by critics as "One of our strongest thriller writers on the scene and the fact that he draws his stories from the contemporary philosophical landscape is very much to his credit." He is the author of the "Brent Marks Legal Thriller Series", the fifth installment of which,, won best legal thriller in the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Awards, and the "Involuntary Spy Espionage Series".

Said Eade of the comparisons, "Readers compare me in style to John Grisham and, there are some similarities, because John also likes to craft a story around real topics and we are both lawyers. However, all of my novels are rooted in reality, not fantasy. I use fictional characters and situations to express factual and conceptual issues. Some use the term 'faction' to describe this style, and it is present in all my fictional works." 

Eade has written twelve novels, which are now in the process of being translated into six languages. He is known to keep in touch with his readers, and offers a free Kindle book to all those who sign up at his web site, 




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