Book Review: The Wrong Side

I discovered author Robert Bailey last year and after reading the first of his Bocephus Haynes series, I was eager for the second book. It did not disappoint.


A battle-worn lawyer fights for a young man’s life in this criminally enthralling legal thriller.

Teen pop star Brittany Crutcher is found dead in small-town Tennessee. For attorney Bocephus Haynes, it’s just another night in Pulaski. Bo swore off criminal work after his last case, but the beloved singer’s murder demands answers.

The prime suspect is local high school football hero and the victim’s boyfriend, Odell Champagne. However, this fallen athlete is one of Bo’s son’s best friends. Bo knows this young man and does not believe him capable of the crime.

When Odell is charged with murder, Bo reluctantly takes the case, sparking outrage throughout the town. But as Bo follows the evidence, he learns that the victim made decisions in her last hours that would give powerful forces motive to harm her. Feeling mounting pressure from the community and the DA, Bo forges ahead. But as the seconds count down, he wonders whether justice is even possible.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bo Haynes is a successful attorney in the town of Pulaski, Tennessee. He’s a widower, raising his two teenage children. When Brittany Crutcher, a popular up-and-coming rock star is found murdered, her boyfriend Odell Champagne is arrested and charged. Odell is a talented high school football senior with prospects of playing in college and even the NFL. He’s also a friend of Bo’s son, T. J.

After his successful defense of District Attorney Helen Lewis in a murder charge a year earlier, Bo had all but sworn off of taking criminal cases. But when Odell asks for his representation, he visits the boy in jail. Odell’s life had been less than ideal. He was abandoned by his father at a young age and his mother has a serious addiction problem. Odell also has a record of theft and was kicked out of his former school due to an assault.

Brittany’s popularity makes this a high-profile case, and Pulaski’s citizens demand justice for her. If Bo takes the case, it could have consequences—not only for him but also for his children. The last thing he wants to do is place them in any danger. Yet he can’t dismiss his belief that Odell is innocent. One of my favorite lines from the book is by Bo’s son, T. J. “Well… sometimes doing right can put you on the wrong side of your friends.”

Unlike a lot of legal thrillers, this book isn’t exclusively courtroom drama. Bailey delves into the lives of the characters. As a reader who enjoys character-driven fiction, this is a plus for me. It’s written in four parts with short, easy-to-read chapters.

As far as the killer’s identity, I thought I had it figured out, then I didn’t. The story wrapped up with a satisfying ending and left the door open for a third book of the series. For those who haven’t read Legacy of Lies, I recommend reading it first. The Wrong Side is an easy five stars for me.

Book Reviews: #Texas Authors @JanSikes3 @WHVenema

Hey, everyone. For those of you in the US, I hope you enjoyed the long weekend. Welcome to the first Tuesday of July. I’m plugging right along with my TBR list, and today I have three reviews. All three books are written by Texas authors, and two of them are set in Texas.

The first is by friend and fellow Story Empire author Jan Sikes.


Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.

Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Ghostly Interference is a blend of romance, paranormal, and healing. Rena Jett is a young woman who lost her brother, Sam, in the war. She’s lived a tough life—abandoned by her mother she and Sam spent years in the foster care system. After Sam’s death, she has no one who loves and cares for her.

Jag Peters comes from a middle-class family. He’s a computer geek but has an intense love of music, and once desired to play in a band. Jag and Rena meet by accident—he literally almost causes her to wreck the only thing she has left of her brother, a candy apple red Harley.

Beneath her tough exterior, Rena is vulnerable. She wants a home and a family but feels like she won’t fit into Jag’s world. Jag has issues as well. It’s said opposites attract, and that couldn’t be truer with these two. Oh, and there’s Sam’s ghost who keeps appearing to Jag.

The story line is well developed, and we see both characters grow and mature. Throw in music (which is always a plus for me), plus the Texas setting, and I was completely enthralled. All in all a satisfying and enjoyable read. This is the first in the White Rune Series. and I look forward to the next book.

The next books are by author William Venema, and are part of a series. I learned of his works through Jan, purchased the first book, and kept it on my TBR list for about a year. After finishing it (in two days), I immediately bought a copy of the second novel.


Captain Robert E. Clark arrives in Panama on his first tour of duty as a lawyer. He struggles to reconcile his Southern upbringing and West Point training with a strange new environment. Panama is a muddled mix of conflict and corruption, where, among other things, marriage vows don’t mean what they did at the First United Methodist Church of Pemberton, Georgia. When Clark is assigned to prosecute a murder case involving the death of a thirteen-month old little girl, his ambition causes him to neglect his wife and daughter more than usual and—even worse—bend the rules in ways that call into question what kind of man he is and what he truly values.

In this riveting novel, William Venema tells an intriguing, thought-provoking tale of unrestrained ambition and its consequences. Death comes in many forms, each lethal in its own way.

My Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I enjoy reading a good legal thriller, so when I heard about Death in Panama, I was intrigued enough to buy a copy.

Set during the early 1980s, the book follows the story of Army Captain Robert E. Clark on his first tour of duty in Panama. Clark, as he is called by his friends, has been assigned to the Judge Advocate General Corps at Fort Clayton. A graduate of West Point, Clark’s life is the army, despite having a wife and young daughter.

He isn’t perfect, and some reviewers said they had a hard time liking his character. I had an even harder time liking his wife. From the start, she appeared selfish. She cares little for him and his wants, even when he has to make an emergency trip to the states when he learns his father is dying.

Clark throws himself into his work and not long after arriving is assigned as chief prosecutor in the murder trial of an army specialist accused of murdering his thirteen-month-old niece. The story covers the investigation, trial, as well as the “aftermath.”

While there are a few instances of author intrusion, overall, the writing is solid. Enough that I’m interested in reading the sequel Dawn in Dallas as it follows Clark’s life after the army.


It is 1986, and Robert E. Clark has no idea what the future holds as he leaves the Army JAG Corps and embarks on a civilian legal career. He secures a position at Underwood & Crockett, a prestigious law firm in Dallas, Texas, even though his young daughter and ex-wife reside in Pemberton, Georgia, the small town where he grew up.

Things get complicated when Robert receives disturbing news from home at the same time he is confronted with unethical behavior by one of the senior partners in the law firm. The challenges of his new career and his responsibilities as a father pull him in opposite directions.

Dawn in Dallas has its share of plot twists and interesting characters and along the way reveals some of the darker secrets of life inside a large law firm and the serious deficiencies of our court system.

My Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After reading Death in Panama, I couldn’t wait to pick up a copy of Dawn in Dallas. Like the first book of the series, I read it in two days.

This book picks up a few years after the first when (now) Major Robert Clark has been reassigned to a post in Georgia. Having gone through a divorce which left him with getting supervised only visits with his daughter, Robert decides to leave the Army and move to Dallas, Texas where he’s offered a position with one of the most prestigious firms in the state.

He soon learns that everything isn’t as it should be. Not only that, but there are also problems with his daughter and ex-wife. His visits to Georgia aren’t looked on favorably by one of the firm’s partners.

At first, we see Robert making some bad choices (much as he did in Panama) but when asked to do something unethical and illegal, he must decide between right and wrong. That’s where we begin to see real character growth.

In Dawn in Dallas, we meet some new characters and see some familiar ones from Death in Panama. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one.

After posting my review, I was delighted to learn a third book is in the works. You can bet I’ll be buying a copy.

Book Reviews: A Killer’s Wife & Legacy of Lies

Hey, everyone. During the past few months, I’ve read several books. It’s been a while since I posted a review here, and I have several to share. Today I’ll share my reviews of two legal thrillers, both by authors I haven’t read before.

A Killer’s Wife by Victor Methos

This was the first book I’ve read by this author. The premise of the story sounded promising, so I decided to give it a try.

Federal prosecutor Jessica Yardley created a new life with her daughter after her husband went to prison for a series of brutal murders. She’s well-respected and good in her field. When two new homicides occur, the killer appears to be a copycat criminal of her now ex-husband.

FBI agent Cason Baldwin, with whom Jessica has a past relationship, enlists her help. He wants her to talk with the ex-husband in hopes the psychopathic killer will point them to the new murderer.

Numerous times I wanted to give up on this book. The author is in need of a good content editor. I got bogged down by the numerous repetitive words. Consider the following passage:

“Yardley stood outside the bedroom doors. Double doors, white with copper trim. She pictured Isaac in the morning opening both doors and what he must’ve seen. She took both knobs and pushed the doors open, the way a child might.”

Or this:

“Yardley knew she was lucky to be a federal prosecutor. The state prosecutors were overworked and had little time to help in any investigations or interviews. Federal prosecutors could pick and choose their cases and take all the time they needed. Whereas a state prosecutor might interview a victim once before a trial, Yardley could interview a victim ten times if she wanted. She could send the FBI to collect evidence she required and turn down cases she felt didn’t need to be prosecuted. As a state prosecutor, she wouldn’t have had the time to help Baldwin.”

Those are just two examples. I wouldn’t want to bore you with more of them. Another problem I had was the author’s use of the main character’s last name, which by the way, was repeated time and time again within a passage. Methos doesn’t seem to know how to use a pronoun.

Nonetheless, I kept reading. I guessed the killer’s identity early on (wasn’t difficult) but what did surprise me was Methos revealed the killer halfway into the book. Curious, I continued reading to see what he was going to do.

What follows is unbelievable. A federal prosecutor doing investigations, obtaining search warrants, and conducting the search herself without backup, and being allowed to prosecute a crime in which she had a personal involvement with the killer.

I also didn’t like the ending. Too many loose threads, which leads me to believe there will be a continuation of this story in the second book which is scheduled for release in 2021. I will not waste my time reading it.

I wavered between two and three stars for this one, finally selecting three because I won’t base ratings solely on personal preferences.

Amazon Link

Legacy of Lies (Bochepus Haynes Book One) by Robert Bailey

Having been a fan of John Gresham for a number of years, I decided to give this author a try.

Disgraced attorney Bochephus Haynes returns to his home town of Pulaski, Tennessee to defend his friend, District Attorney Helen Lewis, who is accused of murdering her ex-husband. Crime and corruption know no bounds and this small-town setting is no exception.

While the book contains more scenes involving the investigation rather than the courtroom, it doesn’t make it any less of a legal thriller. The story is compelling, the action well-paced, and the characters well-developed.

And the ending? Well, let’s just say it was quite a surprise.

Although some reviewers were turned off by some of the backstory, not having read any of Bailey’s earlier series, I didn’t find this intrusive.

Legacy of Lies is the first of the Bocephus Haynes series, but could easily be read as a stand-alone novel. I look forward to the next book, scheduled for release in 2021.

Four stars for this one.

Amazon Link

That’s it