Last Updated on December 3, 2015
The Fallen Angels Book Club is the first book in the Hollis Morgan Mystery series by R. Franklin James. I have already read and reviewed the second book called Sticks & Stones recently, and the story got me interested enough in the series to want to get the first book as well to catch up to how it all began.
Of course the fact that I am a stickler for reading all books in a series (in order if possible, but if not, at least reading them any way they come), also played a part into me hunting down the first book.
In Sticks & Stones, Hollis Morgan is an ex-convict who is part of a book club of a special kind: all members are ex-convicts who like to read and discuss their books. But I really wanted to see how it all started, and why she was a convict in the first place.
As it turns out, she was the innocent (or rather gullible) partner of her ex-husband Bill who once things went awry with his fraud scheme, set her up to fall instead of him. Afterall he valued his free time quite a lot, and Hollis would suffer less in prison than he would. What an ass!
Once she is out of prison, she decides to change her life, start over, make something of herself and change her name as well. Her real name Rebecca Lynley. Her new name: Hollis Morgan.
She always loved learning, so Hollis goes back to school, to become a paralegal no less (in books and movies you usually find two types of persons: those who went to work on the good side of the law (as police officers, lawyers, judges, etc) or against it. Luckily Hollis Morgan is of the kind that respects the law and realizes that her contribution in the arena might prevent others to go through what she went through only recently herself.
She knows that she was gullible and silly, but she also knows that she was not in earnest guilty as the law makes it out to be. And she knows that she deserves a pardon for her crime, which she pursues in earnest.
Sadly, it seems that being in the ex-convict book club derails her plans for a pardon in the very near future, since some of the members of said club end up murdered and fall like flies left and right. She lands smack into the middle of the murder investigation.
Sure, she is innocent in all of this and has no ties to the murderer (or has she?), but the mere fact that she is associated with the club, makes it less likely that the pardon will be granted any time soon (afterall she is a suspect, along with every other member of the club) unless she speeds things up by her trying to find out why her friends are being taken out of the equation.
However the more she investigates, the more she realizes that she might just be the killer’s next target.
This book was just as good as the second one in the series – if not maybe a tad better. It was definitely darker, maybe because Hollis’ past came back to her with a vengeance, and we were right there to pick up the pieces along with her.
The story is engaging, and as I love book clubs, I was drawn to it right from the start. Just like in the second book in the series, we had here a side story as well, this time being about an older woman – Lily, living in a seniors home, in Hollis trying to find out whether she was getting the wrong medication. In the end, as it turns out, Lily and her main book club story do come together, so Lily’s side plot was not a diversion, but a nice enhancement to the main storyline
Holly is a great character which I enjoy reading about. She has her own mind, knows how to use it – afterall she had a hard lesson to learn about trusting the right people and not being gullible anymore – and she has a knack, as we soon see, to solve the cases thrown at her.
The story has a nice flow to it and captivates the reader right from the start. The suspense and thrill are there, although the book is more like a legal cozy than anything else.
Now that I’ve read both books in the series (granted, in reverse order), I can’t wait to read the third book, which is apparently called quite aptly Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club.