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Merissa Racine
Silent Gavel

Court reporter, Lauren Besoner is content with her life in a small Wyoming town. After a failed married and a rocky relationship, she's happy to just lay low and let life pass her by. But when she stumbles upon the body of the honorable judge that she works for, Lauren is suddenly the detective’s top suspect. With her ex-husband in position to take over for the judge, not only is she worried about proving her innocence, but now her career is on the line. Determined to find answers on her own, the feisty stenographer just uncovers more than she bargained for. Now, someone wants to silence more than the Crawford gavel. Can she discover the truth before it's too late?

Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.50 out of 10


Plot: A dead judge, a messy affair, and a heroine being pursued by a handsome, if intimidating, detective, all lead to appealing intrigue and suspense. The hunt for the real killer is complex and keeps readers guessing almost to the very end.

Prose/Style: This is an easy and smooth read with vivid descriptions and artful characterization. Much of the dialogue is witty and some lines are dead-on.

Originality: This book offers a unique premise and an original sensibility. The dogs serve no real purpose, but they make effective background characters. Though the storyline doesn't stray wildly from genre conventions, the novel offers so many red herrings that readers will remain engaged and are unlikely to guess the killer’s identity.

Character Development: There is a large cast of interesting, off-beat characters, including an aunt who raises alpacas; such individuals are more tangential to the storyline than central. The determined detective makes a perfect but expected romantic lead.

Date Submitted: August 07, 2019