Hunting Justice (Will Carson #1.1), by Lara Coates

Nine stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Lara Coates for providing me with a copy of this novella, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Having discovered the wonderful writing of Lara Coates earlier this year, I was pulled into more of her work when she offered up this novella the other day (available to all those who seek to join her mailing list). While I adored I Am Justice, her debut novel, which serves as a police procedural and psychological thriller, there was something about the killer that left me wanting to know more. Coates filled this in, with a novella and gives the reader some context as to how the killer got to the point of turning serial in the aforementioned novel. Ethan Cooper only had his mother, after an alcoholic father forced them out of their home. While they did not have much, Ethan and his mother could rely on one another and the small amount of money they saved. One night, while out driving, they were hit by an out of control vehicle in a roundabout. The crash left the car mangled and Ethan’s mother ended up in a medically induced coma. The other driver got off with a slap on the wrist and Ethan watched his mother in the Intensive Care Unit for months, losing an eye and a leg in the process. When they left the hospital, Ethan refused to let anyone else help with his mother’s care. After finishing his schooling, he was forced to find work to support them. Ethan follows up on a lead and gets work inside the local court building. He sees the legal process as being anything but fair or swift. When the man who left his mother so injured is back in court, years later, Ethan watched the legal system offer a tap on the wrist yet again. It was time for some justice, that which only Ethan could dole out properly. A great novella that keeps the curious reader eager to devour this piece. Recommended to those who loved the first novel in the series, as well as those who love getting into the head of a killer!

I cannot say enough about Lara Coates and her work, which now includes a short piece that I can use between larger reading projects. As I have with her other pieces, I devoured this novella, eager to get inside the head of all its characters. While this is an interesting prequel to I Am Justice, so as not to ruin the intensity of the hunt for a killer by DS Will Carson, it would only make sense to read it after the fact. Ethan Cooper is given a great deal of attention here, with a strong backstory and some development throughout his life. Fuelled by wanting to protect his mother, Ethan’s action always have her best interests in mind. As the reader discovers, it is only when Ethan gets into a position of power than he can truly exact the revenge—the justice—that he feels has not been properly doled out through the courts. The other characters in this piece offer some great insight in to the protagonist’s life. Shaping and flavouring how Ethan will develop the interactions secondary characters have shine through effectively. I loved the idea of this novella, shedding light on one person whose core values may have been missed in the opening novel. Coates does this effectively and weaves a degree of compassion into his character, helping readers to care more than they might normally for a killer. As I have enjoyed everything that Lara Coates has penned to date, I am eager to see what she has next for series fans and those who are looking for a new thriller/police procedural series to enjoy!

Kudos, Madam Coates, for a great novella. You have a gift and I am constantly finding new things I enjoy about how you spin a tale.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

The Club (Will Carson #2), by Lara Coates

First and foremost, a large thank you to Lara Coates for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Lara Coates is back with another Australian police procedural that doubles as a psychological thriller. It’s sure to keep the reader up well into the night discovering every detail that makes this new series one to watch. The Cash Life Club is the most elite collective in all of Melbourne, quite possibly the world. The Club’s motto, “pay with cash…or your life” is as literal as it comes, where members front a massive fee to bid on human ‘items’ and then orchestrate a torture session of their dreams. As long as fees are paid, there are no problems… for now. Detective Sergeant Will Carson is enjoying a rare day off when he gets a cold call from a woman who wishes to report her husband missing. While Carson works strictly homicide, he placates the woman and agrees to make a few calls before booting things off to Missing Persons. As the case of Andrew West turns up some oddities, Carson thinks little of it and remains focussed on some work of his own. His interest is piqued when one of his fellow detectives fails to show up for work and has a highly encrypted phone at his home, much like Mr. West. DS Carson cannot put his finger on it, but there’s something out of sorts and he’s not able to shake it. Trying to clear his head, DS Carson takes a trip out of town and meets a lovely young woman, developing an instant spark and budding romance, though it appears they cannot agree on its depth. Work always seems to get in the way and the discussion gets derailed at the worst possible moment. A gentleman arrives at the precinct demanding to speak to DS Carson, promising that he has essential information. Carson soon learns of the Cash Life Club and how this man is both a member and their next target, all because he has not been able to settle his debts. After giving DS Carson the full story on the Club and its sadistic goings-on, all efforts are made to locate its whereabouts and stop things before they get even more out of hand. As the story comes to its climactic moment, much is revealed about Will Carson and the lengths he will go to protect those he loves. A stunning follow-up to her debut thriller, Coates educates and entertains in equal measure, while leaving the reader felling disgusted in the best possible way. Recommended to those who love their psych thrillers as raw as possible, as well as the reader who enjoys a quick and gritty procedural.

I stumbled upon Lara Coates early in 2020 and devoured her debut novel in a single day, much as I did with this piece. The story here is paced so well that the reader will likely not want to stop once they get into the groove, particularly with the first and final ten chapters that take things to the next level. With DS Will Carson back in the protagonist’s seat, there is much to enjoy about his character. Touching on a backstory buried in Los Angeles with the FBI, Carson has fled twelve thousand kilometres to start a new life and hit the reset button. Heading up the Homicide Squad, he uses his superior policing skills to locate any killer that crosses his professional path without becoming too high and mighty. Always up for a little ribbing, Carson is affable and eager to engage with others on a social level. As Coates shows, he’s also willing to let down his wall enough to show a little romantic side, but don’t expect too much all at once. Some of the other characters within this piece as just as alluring, though not for the same reasons. Coates creates them to fuel the various plot lines she has germinating and keeps the reader guessing how they might fit into the larger storylines that gain momentum throughout. The story is like few others I have read in a long while, compacting a great deal in short order. Coates is able to push some of the most graphic and depraved incidents between chapters of wonderful police work, keeping the reader guessing where things will go and how DS Carson will find an opening through which he can crack the case. Use of the quick chapter helps to propel the story forward and leaves the reader demanding more, devouring pages until there is some resolution. Lara Coates leaves it all on the page with the last ten chapters, which opens the reader’s eyes and creates a cliffhanger that will need at least one more novel to resolve. I cannot wait for more by Lara Coates as she makes her impression on the genre, both within her native Australia and around the world!

Kudos, Madam Coates, for another sensational book. Will Carter is a fabulous character and you have crafted him so well that I cannot wait for what else you have in store for him.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

I Am Justice, by Lara Coates

Nine stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Lara Coates for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Always eager to try new authors, I turned to Lara Coates and her debut novel, an Australian police procedural. In a story that has a bit of everything, Coates keeps the reader entertained throughout and adds a little twist at every turn. When the body of a young woman is found in a fishing shack outside Melbourne, Detective Sergeant Will Carter is called to the scene. He peers at the mutilated body with ‘Justice’ carved in it and is unsure of what to make of what is before him. With a past in as a profiler in the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division, Carter has seen it all, but there is little on which to begin this investigation, as clues and forensics are sparse. While Carter and his team seek any leads, another body is found, severely mutilated in ways few in the Victorian Police Force could imagine. When the first victim is identified, Carter uses this as a foothold to begin creating a list of plausible suspects. It seems that both victims have recently had their day in court, vindicated for crimes of which they were accused. With the killer lurking in the shadows, seeking to instil justice for those who slipped through the cracks, the next victim is anyone’s guess. An interesting story that reads quickly and keeps the reader guessing throughout, with a curious cliffhanger to end it. Recommended to those who enjoy police procedurals, particularly the reader who enjoys something a little outside the usual American or British settings in this expanding genre.

This debut novel proved to be a wonderful launching point for me to explore this up and coming novelist. I allowed this blank slate to permit me to opportunity to dive into this book with no preconceived notions or expectations, particularly since I can find no one else who has read and reviewed this book. DS Will Carter has quite the backstory, which is developed in a parallel narrative throughout this piece, including a discussion about how he arrived in Melbourne from the tough streets of Los Angeles. Bringing that history to his new position, Carter is able to work through the nuances of a serial killer with an axe to grind. The reader will surely find some connection to Carter, even if he seems somewhat preachy in the opening chapters. Others complement Carter’s work quite well, helping to strengthen the overall reading experience while flavouring the story in unique ways. The story kept moving as the plot evolved, using short chapters and numerous cliffhangers to keep the reader wanting to read ‘just a little more’. Coates pulls the reader in and does not let go until the final reveal. This debut is soon to be followed by two more books, whose blurbs appear at the end and which I am sure to read when they are released. Told in such a way that the story can be read in a single sitting, this is one author not to be missed by those who enjoy this genre.

Kudos, Madam Coates, for this intriguing piece of work. I will be back to read more and hope others take the plunge!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: