This thought provoking novel provides a look at the legal system in a rural Ozark county. It is not so much a thriller as it is an exploration of personalities and court proceedings.
The plot centers around the death of a pregnant woman and unborn child. She had been beaten to death by her boyfriend, high on drugs. Witness to the murder was the woman's six year old child, Ivy. When the man confesses to the murder, a conviction seems secure. The county prosecutor decides to go for the death penalty. When her first choice as co-counsel declines to participate, she turns to assistant prosecutor Elsie Arnold. The two do not have a friendly relationship and their personalities flare as the case moves forward.
I like a novel that, while being a good novel on legal procedure, also gives me much to think about. The major issue in this novel is the death penalty. The prosecutor views this crime as so horrible that the death penalty is appropriate. It's still in place in Missouri. Her first choice for co-counsel is totally opposed to such punishment and refuses to work on the case. That aspect of the novel made me think again of my own view on the death penalty.
Another issue the novel highlighted was the responsibility of the police in cases of domestic abuse. There had been previous police calls to this couple because of violence yet no action had been taken. That made me think about the whole issue of domestic abuse and how effective the police are in preventing further harm to battered women.
And yet another issue concerned the relationships between the residents in the county. Some had lived their whole lives there and many alliances had been formed protecting those breaking the law. That can pose a serious problem in the legal system when individuals charged with convicting or defending a person have long standing ties to the accused.
I enjoyed reading this novel set in the rural south. The characters were well developed. My favorite was Ivy, a girl who had seen way too much of life at her tender age. Still, she was a survivor. The setting was well done. As a northerner, I was a little shocked at the behavior and language of some of the characters. I trust Allen has given us a realistic view of life in that area.
I recommend this novel to those who enjoy being taken through a legal procedure including court drama. There is a little suspense but the majority of the novel deals with personalities and how young Ivy is handled. The main characters are all women so I am not so sure if men would like reading this novel.
A note to my regular blog readers: there is a sex scene in this novel as well as vulgar language and swearing. While I did not appreciate the sex scene, I did feel the language was appropriate to the characters and the plot.
I am taking part in a blog tour of this book. Click here to view the 'The Wages of Sin by Nancy Allen' Tour Participants.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Nancy Allen practiced law for 15 years as Assistant Missouri Attorney General and Assistant Prosecutor in her native Ozarks. She has tried over thirty jury trials, including murder and sexual offenses, and is now a law instructor at Missouri State University. This is the third book in her Ozarks mystery series.
Book Details:Genre: Legal Thriller, Crime Published by: Witness Impulse Publication Date: 04/26/2016 Number of Pages: 320 ISBN: 0062438751 (9780062438751) Series: An Ozarks Mystery, 3rd | Each is a Stand Alone Thriller Purchase Links:
I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for the purpose of an independent and honest review.