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You might recall a recent post on my blog telling you all about Kellie Lawson Murphy’s new book, Stay of Execution, including a Q&A with the author herself. I am delighted to say that I’ve now read the review copy I was kindly given (in return for an honest review) and have finally found some time to write it up.
It’s been a while since I gave five stars to a book but this definitely ticks all my boxes. It’s a great thriller/suspense that kept me turning the page as soon as I picked it up. I started it in an evening and finished it by the following lunchtime.
Kellie Lawson Murphy gets straight to the action with this one. The book kicks off with Leo Spradlin, a convicted rapist and murdered being released from prison. He’s been on death row for a series of offences against college girls at Blue Hill College, Washington. Branded “The Co-Ed Killer” everyone is convinced of his guilt. That is until DNA evidence overturns his conviction and he is pardoned.
Mike Cancini, the detective responsible for putting him away, is convinced that he has the right man and sets out to prove himself right. A cast of characters join the journey, including a journalist from The Washington Herald chasing the story of a lifetime. Is the DNA evidence right? Is Leo Spradlin as manipulative as he seems and if so, what does that mean? All is revealed in a story that is well paced and intriguing, leaving questions answered and a fully formed character in Cancini, ripe for development in future stories.
But enough of what it’s about! Why did I like it? Firstly, I just like Kellie’s style. You get a sense of the horror and violence of the crimes (both past and a few more!) without going into lots of gory detail – that’s a difficult line to navigate when it comes to sexual assault. Secondly, the book is incredibly well paced – the chapters are short and driven along by each being written from different point of views. This is handled very well. Shifting POVs can cause confusion and slows place but this is really well done. Thirdly, there is just the right amount of exposition to get the reader up to speed with the previous “Co-Ed crimes” without being bogged down in narrative. Finally, the characters are well developed without providing lots of unnecessary detail and inner monologue.
In short, this is definitely a book I would pick up and read again. An ideal one to take for your summer holidays if you like a good crime read by the pool! This is the second Detective Cancini book – I may have to hunt out the first myself!
Kellie Larsen Murphy is the author of A Guilty Mind and Stay of Execution, the first two books in the Detective Cancini Mystery series. She has written for several mid-Atlantic magazines and resides in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, four children, and two very large, very hairy dogs.
Follow her on her website and at Twitter