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HEAVEN’S A LIE by Wallace Stroby: Book Review

Watching an accident about to happen is a frightening experience for anyone.  But for Joette Harper it becomes a matter of life and death.

Looking out the window of the motel where she works as a receptionist, she sees a car taking a left across the Taylor Creek bridge way too fast.  It goes into the bridge’s abutment head on, and Joette rushes out of the motel to see if she can help.

Looking past the cracked windshield, she sees the driver; he appears barely conscious.  As he tries to unclip his shoulder harness, flames starts to engulf the car, black smoke begins spewing from the engine.  With great effort Joette pulls the man out of the car, as far as possible from the now burning BMW.

When she finally feels they’re safely away from the vehicle, she sees something floating in the air, landing in front of her in the parking lot.  It’s a hundred dollar bill, Ben Franklin’s image facing up.

The car’s driver looks at her, trying to tell her something, and she wonders if he’s trying to let her know that there’s someone still in the car.  Cautiously she goes back to the BMW, doesn’t see anyone inside but spots a canvas bag inside the open trunk.  She can see piles of cash inside.  She pulls the bag out and runs back to the driver.  Now she notices that he’s bleeding, his shirt and jeans covered in blood.  Then he dies, and Joette hides the sack in her car’s trunk.

Joette is interrogated by the police who quickly arrive at the accident scene.  She answers all their questions but doesn’t mention the sack.  After the interview is finished she drives to her trailer and counts the money.  In denominations of fifties and hundreds it comes out to nearly $300,000.  She puts the money inside her only suitcase, puts the suitcase in the closet.  By doing this she’s reached the point of no return.

No one witnessed the crash except Joette, but she wonders if there is anyone who knows about the money.  The answer is that two men, Cosmo and Travis, do, and they are apprehensive that someone may have seen the accident and found the cash.

Cosmo, Travis, and the driver have been dealing drugs, and now the two remaining men have neither drugs nor the money to restock their supply.  Cosmo has a relationship with a crooked state trooper who knows that the woman who works at the motel saw the accident, and that’s how the men learn about Joette.

Since the trooper doesn’t tell Cosmo anything about the money, the men believe that the witness probably took the cash from the car before the police arrived.  Bad news for Joette.

Wallace Stroby has written another outstanding thriller in which no one is completely innocent or blameless.  Joette knows she should have turned the bills over to the police, but she didn’t.  Now she has to deal with the aftermath of her decision.

You can read more about Wallace Stroby at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

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