A SHATTERED LENS – (Detective Preach Everson – Book #2)
Annalise Stephens Blue is a Creekville high school student with plans to become a world-famous filmmaker. As she begins filming an exposé of the town called Night Lives, she uncovers more than she bargained for: on the very first night of filming, she stumbles upon a murder in the woods, and flees the scene steps ahead of the killer.
Detective Joe “Preach” Everson is called to investigate the murder. The victim, David Stratton, is the town’s golden boy and high school quarterback. A modern version of what Preach used to be. Not only that, the boy’s mother is Claire Lourdis, a beautiful divorcée who Preach fell for in high school. She is also the main suspect in her son’s murder.
Despite the cloud of suspicion hanging over her, old feelings resurface between Claire and Preach, straining the detective’s relationship with his girlfriend Ari, a prosecutor in nearby Durham. As Preach delves into the secrets lurking beneath the surface of the town and searches for a missing girl who may have witnessed the crime, he must put his own feelings aside and pursue the answer to a terrible question: is a mother capable of murdering her own child?
Layton is a bestselling author who writes across multiple genres, including mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, and fantasy. He is the author of the popular Dominic Grey series, as well as other works of fiction. His novels have been nominated for several awards, including two finalists for a prestigious International Thriller Writers Award and have topped numerous genre lists. He is also the co-editor of International Thrills, the online magazine of ITW (International Thriller Writers).
In addition to writing, Layton attended law school in New Orleans and was a practicing attorney for the better part of a decade. He has also been an intern for the United Nations, an ESL teacher in Central America, a bartender in London, a seller of cheap knives on the streets of Brixton, a door-to-door phone book deliverer in Florida, and the list goes downhill from there.
Currently based in Durham, North Carolina, Layton has travelled to more than sixty countries, lived in a number of them, and has a burning desire to see every country, city, beach, moor, castle, cemetery, twisted street and far flung dot on the map.
You can keep up to date with all the latest news on Layton’s website
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“The camera felt so right in her hands. So natural. The sheer heft of it made her feel important, as if she were already more visible to the world. Everybody everywhere needed something to help them belong, Annie knew. For some it was obvious: money, drugs, guns, sex, power. For others, it could be something as simple as a pet, or a child, or a single friend. Something no one else could claim”
“Detective Joe “Preach” Everson set down the hatchet and wiped a line of sweat from his brow. A gust of wind caused a flurry of pine needles to drift down, adding to the layer covering the yard of his bungalow in the woods outside Creekville, North Carolina. Though the early October air remained mild, he had decided to get a head start on splitting wood for the season, knowing the weather could turn at any time”
“From Preach’s time as a prison chaplain, before he joined the Atlanta PD, he knew the true horror of incarceration was not the loss of freedom, but the daily choices one was forced to make to survive. Navigating the jungle without becoming one of the animals. Most people that landed behind bars—not all, but most—had disadvantaged upbringings and poor choices to blame. It was prison that turned them into criminals”
“Bombarded by information, weeding out extraneous info, our former lovers are viewed either through a rose-coloured prism or through a shattered lens”
When the first book in the Detective Joe ‘Preach’ Everson series landed on my desk, due to pressures of work at that time, I made a decision I now have cause to regret big time, when I chose to only select short passages for promotion, rather than read the entire story.
Perhaps I need to qualify that statement however … A Shattered Lens works fine as a stand alone story, but for me personally, I kept finding myself wanting to know why ‘Preach’ had needed to move back to policing the streets of his hometown, abandoning his promising career in the Atlanta City PD. What had made him come so close to the brink of desolation and despair?
For me though, having made that decision, there really was no turning back, as life for ‘Preach’ had already moved on, so I shall be beginning my journey with A Shattered Lens, only being certain to read any further instalments in strict publishing order!
To say that this is a small town murder/mystery, whilst maybe technically true, certainly doesn’t correlate with other similar stories I have read in the same genre. Creekville may a town of modest size, but it is very much a community divided. There are two distinct areas under its one umbrella – those who have and live a comfortable, if modest life – and those who are definitely living on the margins of society in a trailer community, where they are very much isolated and forgotten, leaving them the ideal target for crime/drugs infiltration, whilst other more unscrupulous plans over which they have no control, unfold around them.
Or are things not quite what they seem? Where do the lines become blurred without anyone noticing? and who really are the true criminals here?
Just because a person lives with few belongings, a broken and divided family, leaving them susceptible and vulnerable to events, doesn’t mean that they lack the drive and ambition to improve things to try and make a better future for themselves. Annalise ‘Blue’ didn’t mean to have broken the law, then walked in on a scene which put her life in danger – she was only trying to improve the future for herself and her mother, away from the bad influences which controlled their lives.
Likewise, for those who are perceived to have the comforts and trappings of traditional family life, there is always the possibility for greed, selfishness and complacency, to cloud their judgment and cause their life to take an altogether more sinister path.
Layton has once again done what he does best. His mature and complex writing, sets up the dynamics of the scene brilliantly, giving a real sense of time and place, before he then introduces his main characters into the situation, offering them a chance to adapt and interact with the sub-cast and events, as they occur and the story unfolds.
Detective Joe ‘Preach’ Everson has recently returned to this, his hometown community, following his recent past as chaplain in the prison service, before joining the city policing of Atlanta PD. He is clearly very much a man still on the road to recovery, after events which have left him scarred, broken and fitting neither into the city life he has left behind, nor the societal norms of his roots. This inner struggle and sense of not belonging, spills over into both his professional and personal life, where he is doubting his ability protect the population, as he is now responsible for investigating his former friends and family; and is also struggling to commit completely to his girlfriend, up and coming lawyer, Ari.
The fact that both ‘Preach ‘ and Ari are both principled, complex characters, with deep emotional needs; and have complicated and intense jobs, with no real sense of normal working conditions, doesn’t help matters. Add to that, author Layton Green has then chosen to complicate matters even further, with his skilful narrative and dialogue, by having their professional lives collide with one another, causing their paths to cross in a way which is also likely to tear them apart personally if they allow it to, and you have the perfect backdrop for what is about to happen!
The unfolding story moves along at a cracking and exhilarating pace, whilst the suspense grows steadily to the final few pages, when there is time for reflection, regrouping and a reassessment of what really are the most important things in life.
Which makes this story a great combination of plot and character driven events… the complete package!
This PDF file was sent to me by the lovely Sami Jo of Roger Charlie, who for the purposes of this promotion represents Kaye Publicity.
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a 5 out of 5.