Thursday, January 28, 2021

Blog Tour: The Violent Roots by Nicole Williams

These Violent Roots, an all-new psychological thriller from New York Times bestselling author Nicole Williams is available now!

Grace Wolff spends her days fighting monsters, and her nights hiding from her own. As a public prosecutor in the sexual crimes unit, she knows more about rapists, pedophiles, and deviants than most people dare to consider.

Dr. Noah Wolff is as acquainted with monsters as his wife. While Grace dedicates her career to putting violent men away, Noah is more interested in rehabilitating them. A renowned psychiatrist specializing in sexual deviance, he counsels a burgeoning number of court-appointed patients wrestling with evil in its vilest form.

When she discovers a long line of pedophile suicides have been murders in disguise, Grace is duty-bound to aid in the investigation. But in her quest to track down the killer, Grace faces an ethical impasse. As a steward of the law, she has an obligation to seek justice for the murders. As a human being, she accepts that “innocent until proven guilty” is laden with loopholes criminals slip through too easily, and too often.

As she hunts the hunter, Grace is forced to acknowledge a complicated truth. To defeat the swell of monsters preying upon humanity’s most innocent, one must become a monster themselves.

4.5 Stars

Review by Lisa Kane

I've read almost all of Ms. William's previous books and this book is a totally different genre. I would describe it as a suspense, more so than a romance. 

Grace Wolff is a prosecutor. Her husband Noah has a private practice in addition to being a court appointed psychiatrist. He sees criminals who are required to meet with a therapist as part of their sentence or probation. 

I prosecuted sexual criminals. Noah counseled them, seeking to simultaneously understand and support them. 

Grace is burning the candle at both ends. Her job requires more time than she could ever give, her daughter Andee is sixteen and more than a little handful. She's constantly involved in physical confrontations and Grace is at her wits end. 

Words. They were my life, my livelihood. They fought battles, won many, yet failed me every time where my daughter was concerned. 

Where my husband was concerned as well.

She and Noah barely see one another. They've been married for seventeen years and she probably couldn't answer if the basis of her marriage is love. They both got drunk one night in college, had sex and Grace found herself pregnant. They had never even had a conversation before their drunken one night stand. Noah suggested marriage, and almost two decades later, here they are. Not sure where that is, but it is what it is. 

Grace is overworked with a massive case load. She's pulled in too many directions. She feels she's doing a crap job as a parent. But then, she had no real role models in that department. Her father is a prominent attorney who's never shown Grace an ounce of pride or love in his daughter. Her mother has turned a blind eye to her womanizing husband and harps on Grace constantly. She just feels like a failure in so many areas. So, she buries her feelings in her work. 

There's an investigation underway leading to the deaths of 33 sexual offenders. Most were considered to have committed suicide but it appears that they were indeed murdered. I won't go into a lot of details, but Grace and Noah are part of a task force trying to capture the person or persons who killed them. The public is enamored of the killer (or killers) and they have given him the nickname, The Huntsman. He deals his own justice to the men who raped and killed children. To a frustrated public who feel victimized and unheard, he is a hero. His followers are called disciples. They are growing in number.

"You call this Huntsman a killer. I call him a hero." Her arms drew around herself. "All of us who've lost children think of him as such."

 As for the parents of the abused and murdered children, can you really expect them to want to help punish this person who is fighting for their child's justice? As parents they couldn't save their own children, they will never see them again. This person delivers the justice that they could only dream of delivering. Of course all of this makes Grace and Noah unpopular with a public who doesn't want to see The Huntsman caught. 

"This is the culmination of those doubts. The Huntsman was spurred from guilt, manifested with fear, and sustained by duty."

There are dark themes in this story-as if children being abused and killed aren't dark enough themes. This story will make you reach deep down into your core and consider what is good, what is evil and what kind of punishment do we as a society give to those who do the unspeakable? Does the punishment fit the crime and what are the repercussions when the law doesn't protect the most innocent of victims? 

Go into this book blindly, just read and let the words take you down the twisted paths. Don't try to solve, don't try to sift through any evidence. Just feel the words, feel the story. At the end of the book I was unsettled, but given the subject matter, there is a rightness to this. Some things in life will never be tied up in pretty little bows. Ugly truths should unsettle. 

Ms. Williams has shown us her writing chops with this story. Although I love her comedies and romances, I can now add her suspense stories to that list. 

"Obligation might have been the reason I married you, but love is what has kept me here the past seventeen years, Grace Wolff."

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Parked outside the police precinct in downtown Seattle, I found myself fixated on a particular piece of graffiti sprayed on a concrete column buttressed beneath an overpass. This was different than the typical profanities, initials, or gang signs spewed across old abandoned buildings and freeway infrastructures. 

Freshly painted, given its prominence above the rest of the graffiti, an oval with a line cutting horizontally through the center stretched several feet long. Done in black, it was the Greek symbol for theta, the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet. 

It was the symbol for death. 

It had also become a mark the public had assigned to the Huntsman. A black theta. The mark of death.

It had started small, only known about in fringe society, but then a major news station ran a report on it and the concept exploded into the mainstream. A few weeks ago, a person might pass the occasional weirdo with a theta symbol penned in black Sharpie across the back of their hand, but fast forward a few weeks and a person couldn’t drive to the grocery store without passing bumper stickers, shirts, and pins hanging off backpacks and purses, from your average high school student to your aging veteran. 

At the Public Market, vendors were carrying shirts with the theta symbol accompanied with the caption of Justice for all. They were selling out. 

The Huntsman had been elevated from a cult following to an icon of pop culture, the first serial killer to gain mainstream acceptance. Serial killers before him had always drawn a small fan base of emotionally fragile women, but this was different. The Huntsman not only came with the adoration of those unstable girls wanting to marry him whenever he was caught and thrown into prison for the rest of his life, but your everyday mother, from inner-city to suburban, supported his mission of wiping out pedophiles. They saw him as the dark but necessary hand of justice, an angel of death who protected the most innocent and vulnerable of society. 

The Huntsman had support in the male category as well, from dads, husbands, boyfriends, and students because, veiled as they might keep it, most men at their base believed in good old-fashioned justice where eye-for-an-eye was more life-for-an-eye. 

The elderly, who had known hard times those of us under fifty couldn’t begin to understand, regarded the Huntsman as a necessary evil who was finally cleaning up the streets. And the kids . . . they talked about him almost as though he were the latest and greatest superhero to hit the big screen. An analogy I’d heard from one of the other attorney’s pre-teen was Deadpool meets Suicide Squad meets Batman. 

Whatever that meant. 

Huntsman fever hadn’t only hit the Greater Seattle area, but had swept across the nation. Rallies were arranged by satellite supporters in most major cities in the country. Protests had begun to crop up as well, Huntsman supporters waving signs outside of courthouses and demanding true justice for those standing accused inside. The supporters had even christened themselves with a name—The Disciples. As though they were some devote band of followers who’d do anything for their leader, some of which I didn’t doubt would. 

The Huntsman’s mark—I was still staring at it, half-hypnotized. Up until now, the public had praised the efforts of anyone involved in catching a serial killer, but not this time. No one would thank us for catching the Huntsman. Some would probably attempt to impede our efforts. But I was a state’s attorney, a guardian of the law the way it was written. 

I didn’t have the luxury of deciding which murders were justified and which should be prosecuted.

About Nicole
Biographies are impossible for me to write without landing somewhere in the realm of lame. Which is ironic since I’m a writer attempting to, you know, do what I do and write. For whatever reason though, trying to sum up who I am is enough to make me rock myself into a psychiatric-something in a dark corner.

I could try explaining what I love: books, writing, adventures, the outdoors, animals, my family, my friends. I could list what I don’t love: hate, needles, narrow-mindedness, pantyhose, celery. I could go into my background and my sources of inspiration, sprinkling throughout witty bits of commentary and the expected author-fare of a few words that make a person scratch their head and reach for a dictionary. But the true biography of who I am is penned on the pages of my books, hidden between the words. Where I’ve been, who I am, where I’m going—it’s all there.
At the end of the day, I’m an open book.

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