“The Elsie Arnold series deserves to run and run.”— Alex Marwood, author of The Wicked Girls and The Killer Next Door
In rural McCown County, Missouri, a young pregnant woman is found beaten to death in a trailer park. The only witness to the murder is Ivy, her six-year-old daughter, who points to her mom’s boyfriend—father of the unborn child. County prosecutor Madeleine Thompson promises the community justice, and in the Ozarks, that can only mean one thing: a death sentence.
When Madeleine’s first choice for co-counsel declines to try a death penalty case, she is forced to turn to assistant prosecutor Elsie Arnold. Elsie is reluctant to join forces with her frosty boss, but the road to conviction seems smooth—until unexpected facts about the victim arise, and the testimony of the lone eyewitness Ivy becomes increasingly crucial. Against Elsie’s advice, Madeleine brings in the state attorney general’s office to assist them, while cutthroat trial attorney Claire O’Hara joins the defense.
Elsie will not let the power of prosecution—of seeking justice—be wrested from her without a fight. She wants to win the case, and to avenge the death of the mother and her unborn child. But as the trial nears, Elsie begins to harbor doubts about the death penalty itself. Meanwhile, the child Ivy is in greater danger than anyone knows.
“Unflinching and gritty.” — Library Journal
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
My Thoughts **contains possible spoilers!**:
I like author Nancy Allen, she’s a good storyteller whose writing style makes the subject matter easy to understand. But even though The Wages of Sin can stand on its own, I think I would have benefited from reading books 1 and 2 before this one. I had a hard time connecting with Elsie and found her to be one-dimensional and perhaps not very good at her job. She forgot to interview the single most important person in her case – the eyewitness. What kind of prosecutor puts this interview off for several days, especially when your only witness is a child? She does recover from this mistake, but it just struck me as odd.
The reader knows from the beginning who is responsible for the murders and there are no big surprises during trial, so this isn’t a typical mystery. The verdict is assured, not because the prosecution is so good, but because the defense has other priorities in mind. The final chapters are exciting, and the ending is satisfying, finally bringing justice for the senseless murder of a pregnant woman and her unborn child.
I enjoyed the passages written from Ivy’s perspective and was dismayed to think about how much this six year old has seen in her short life that she should never have been exposed to at any age. It would be nice to see her make an appearance in a later book as a young adult and see how her life turns out. This is one girl who can overcome a tragic childhood and become a successful adult!
Nancy Allen practiced law for 15 years as Assistant Missouri Attorney General and Assistant Prosecutor in her native Ozarks. She has tried over 30 jury trials, including murder and sexual offenses, and is now a law instructor at Missouri State University. Her first novel,The Code of the Hills, was published by HarperCollins in 2014. The Wages of Sin, is the third book in her Ozarks mystery series.