Savannah newspaper reporter and true-crime author Nikki Gillette is struggling to find a salable topic for her latest book. With an impending deadline, she knows that just any crime story won't do; she needs something riveting, shocking, and guaranteed to garner the interest of the public. Fortunately, that's exactly what she finds when it's announced that convicted murderer Blondell O'Henry may be released from prison when a key witness recants his testimony 20 years after the trial that branded the sexy Southern bombshell a murderer.
While all of America watched as Blondell's trial made the headlines, Nikki has a personal connection to the crime. When she was just a teenager, her best friend, Amity, spent the night at an isolated cabin in the woods with her mother, Blondell, and younger siblings. During the night, Amity was shot and killed, and the other children were shot and permanently injured. Even Blondell was seriously injured with a gunshot wound to her arm and a staggering blow to her head.
"The personal involvement of Nikki with the crime victims and possible perpetrator brings a high-stakes element to the book that will keep readers riveted and rooting for Nikki and Pierce to persevere against the greatest odds and impending danger..."
Although Blondell insisted that a stranger entered the cabin that dark, stormy night and wrought the havoc that altered her life and that of her children forever, a jury of her peers and the public failed to believe her story. Instead, they decided that Blondell was the sole perpetrator of the horrific crime and sentenced her to prison.
Now, years later, Blondell's son, Niall, who was eight years old at the time of the crime, has recanted the testimony that helped put his mother away. He says that he is now sure that she wasn't the one who held the gun that fired the life-altering shots and that his testimony was coerced by an overeager prosecutor. His words may just be enough to set his mother free.
Stunned when she hears the latest developments in the case, Nikki strives to be the first reporter to snag an interview with the mysterious femme fatale and uncover the truth of what happened the night she lost her best friend. On that long-ago night, Amity had begged Nikki to sneak out of her home and meet her for an earth-shattering confession. Unable to get away, Nikki was nowhere near the cabin when everything went down. Now she may have the chance to find out what really happened and shed the survivor's guilt she has carried all these years.
As if the situation isn't complicated enough, Nikki is in the midst of planning her wedding to Detective Pierce Reed, who has been assigned to delve into the case and ensure that Blondell remains behind bars. These two dedicated professionals are sure to butt heads as each tries to uncover the truth of the mystery before the other one. The real problem is that someone with a lot to lose if the truth comes out is willing to do whatever it takes to stop the duo dead in their tracks.
TELL ME is the third novel in Lisa Jackson's Pierce Reed/Nikki Gillette series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone. The personal involvement of Nikki with the crime victims and possible perpetrator brings a high-stakes element to the book that will keep readers riveted and rooting for Nikki and Pierce to persevere against the greatest odds and impending danger, and to emerge victorious and alive to see their wedding day.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on July 3, 2013