Thursday, August 6, 2009
STOP ME: 2nd Book in The Last Stand Series
Book Rating: 5 stars
Heat Rating: HOT
Reviewed by: C.S. Morehouse ( Review is On its Way. Make sure to check back.)
Widower Romain Fornier lost his reason for living when his daughter was kidnapped and murdered. When the killer got off on a technicality, Romain used a gun to mete out his own justice. Now that he’s finally out of prison, free to return to his Cajun roots, the last thing he wants to learn is that he might’ve killed the wrong man. But that’s exactly what Jasmine Stratford of The Last Sand, whose job it is to help victims of violent crime, has come all the way from California to tell him.
Jasmine Stratford, psychological profiler, convinced his daughter’s killer is still alive—and that she and Romain have something in common. She believes the same man kidnapped her sister, Kimberly, sixteen years ago.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Jasmine is determined to track him down when she receives an anonymous package, postmarked New Orleans—the bracelet she gave Kimberly for her eighth birthday. She approaches Romain because she knows he can help her…if he chooses. But searching for the man who irrevocably changed booth their lives means they have to rise to a killer’s challenge: STOP ME!
REVIEW IS ON ITS WAY!
EXCERPT: Stop Me by Brenda Novak:
Four years ago…
The man who’d murdered Romain Fornier’s ten-year-old daughter didn’t look like a killer. He sat slumped in the courtroom with puffy bags beneath his eyes, a halo of mousy brown hair circling his otherwise bald head and jowls that hung lower than his chin. There were moments when even Romain couldn’t believe frumpy, middle-aged Francis Moreau had done something so vicious, moments when he glanced back over the days and weeks since Adele’s abduction and felt as if he was living someone else’s life.
The judge pounded his gavel, bringing the noise in the courtroom to an abrupt halt. It grew so quiet Romain could hear the defense counsel shuffling his papers.
“The law is very precise on this matter,” the judge announced. “The police may have obtained verbal approval from the proper authority, but they didn’t get the affidavit signed until after the search of defendant’s home, which means the evidence found in that search is not admissible in court.”
Romain heard the gasps of his family. His parents sat on one side of him; his sister sat on the other. Without that evidence, we don’t have a case. The D.A. had stated that over and over.
Romain’s muscles bunched as he leaned forward to whisper to Detective Huff, who sat a row in front of him. “Is this as bad as it seems?”
“Don’t worry,” Huff whispered back. But his voice sounded odd, almost strangled, and his expression didn’t promote much confidence. When a witness for the defense revealed that Huff had searched Moreau’s house without legitimate paperwork, Huff’s face had flushed crimson. It was still crimson and several beads of sweat had popped out on his forehead.
Desperate for definitive answers, Romain was nonetheless distracted when the prosecutor asked to approach the bench. The judge waved both him and the defense counsel forward. They kept their conversation muted, but the way the D.A. gesticulated with his hands suggested that he was in the midst of a heated argument.
This case couldn’t get away from them now, not when there was no doubt they had the right man, Romain said over and over to himself. But the D.A. wasn’t happy when he finally returned to his table. Before sitting down, his eyes searched the crowd, singling out Huff, whom he gave a look of such contempt Romain could no longer breathe.
“They’re going to let him off,” Romain said to no one in particular. His sister sat like a statue; his mother was crying, his father trying to comfort her. “He’s going to get off!” he repeated, and this time he gripped Huff by the shoulder to guarantee a response.
Huff twisted to face him. A fan thrummed in the corner. The air-conditioning had been out for two days and the weather had turned unseasonably warm for October. “He did it, Romain,” he said, mopping his forehead with a handkerchief. “I saw the tape.”
Romain had seen part of the tape, too—as much as he could bear to watch. Which was partly why he couldn’t wrap his mind around this. How could the technicalities involved in serving a search warrant take precedence over a child’s life? His child’s life?
“They can’t let him walk,” Romain said. But the judge pounded his gavel, curtly announced that the D.A. was dropping all charges and exited the courtroom.
Stunned, Romain stood with his mouth agape as Moreau’s watery blue eyes cut to him and a victorious smile curved his colorless lips. Sight of it caused everything around Romain to go black. For a moment in time, there was only the two of them, staring across the courtroom at each other.
“It’s the detective’s fault?” his mother was asking. “Why didn’t he get the affidavit signed before he searched?”
“Moreau knew the police had been tipped off. He would’ve destroyed the evidence had Detective Huff waited,” his father responded.
Huff must’ve heard them, but he kept facing forward. He was staring at Moreau, too, whose attention and “you lose” smile had shifted to the detective. Then the defense attorneys started shaking Moreau’s hand, congratulating him.
The crowd surged toward the door. Romain’s sister started pulling on him, trying to get him to follow her. But he remained rooted to the spot. The judge and the lawyers had to come back. This wasn’t over. It couldn’t be over. Moreau was a killer.
Since he’d been so determined to stay, he wasn’t sure how he eventually got out of the courtroom. He didn’t remember making the decision to leave, walking toward the exit or passing through to the outside. He only remembered seeing the detective remove his jacket and swing it over his arm while they descended the steps--and sensing the presence of Huff’s gun in its holster as they moved side by side, jostled by the crowd and attacked by the media, who waited like a pack of wolves.
“Mr. Fornier, what do you have to say about seeing the man who allegedly killed your daughter go free?”
“Mr. Fornier! Mr. Fornier! Do you still believe Francis Moreau murdered Adele?”
“Can you tell me if you’ll pursue this in a civil proceeding?”
As one reporter after another shoved a microphone into Romain’s face, he saw Moreau only a few feet away, pandering for other cameras—and suddenly craved a gun in his hand more than his next breath. He was an excellent marksman. At this distance, he’d scarcely have to aim. One pull of the trigger and he could fix everything that’d just gone so terribly wrong.
And the next thing Romain knew, a blast rent the air, Moreau fell to the ground, and Detective Huff began forcing him to the hot, gritty concrete.
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