Blog Tour: The Bell Tolls (A Hollis Morgan Mystery, #5) by R. Franklin James (Review & Giveaway!)

This blog tour is hosted by Tribute Books Blog Tours. To follow the rest of the tour, click here

Summary/Cover Image from Amazon
Hollis Morgan has survived imprisonment, received a pardon and persevered to finally become a probate attorney. Tough as she is, her newest case will further test her mettle. She discovers her client, Matthias Bell, is a deceased blackmailer whose last wish was to return the damaging documents he collected, letting his victims off the hook. It falls to Hollis to give them the good news. But it’s revealed that Bell was murdered, and the victims of “Bell’s tolls” are now suspects.

Hollis’ white-collar criminal past has left her with keen survival instincts. A gifted liar she knows a liar when she meets one. A lot of people in this case are lying and one is a killer.

On top of that, she’s also representing a dying stripper, a wealthy widow whose estranged daughter spurns her attempts at reconciliation, but whose husband sees the potential inheritance as mending all wounds particularly financial ones.

Clients aside, Hollis is defensive and wary. Her mother, who hasn’t spoken to her for years, needs a kidney, and Hollis is a match, but neither are ready to put away the past. With Hollis’ fiancĂ© and emotional support off on an undercover mission for Homeland Security, she must count on her own survival instincts. She is swept along on an emotional roller coaster as her absent love and her family’s coldness take their own toll.

Work is her salvation. The specter of a killer keeps her focused. Hollis has always had to rely on her wits, but now she finds that others who don’t have her well-being in mind are relying on them as well. 

I've been in pursuit of mystery books lately so when I was asked to me part of the blog tour for the Bell Tolls, the fifth book in a Hollis Morgan Mystery series, I jumped at the chance. As it turned out, The Bell Tolls was the perfect next stop on my hunt for a great mystery book. Containing mystery, suspense, and intrigue, The Bell Tolls was a book I easily devoured in one sitting. 

The Bell Tolls introduces Hollis Morgan, a probate attorney who hasn't had the easiest past, and from the first page I liked her. She was relatable as well as fierce and determined. I loved that she always went the extra step for her cases and clients, even when it meant putting herself on the line. Her interactions with her clients, especially with Kiki Turner, were some of my favorite parts of the book. I felt like they brought a more compassionate side to Hollis, something that she didn't always want to show the world. Her relationship with her family also brought an interesting dynamic to the book. I couldn't believe how cold and aloof her family was with her (I'm curious to go back to the previous books and see how it all started!). There was so many times I personally wanted to yell at them, her sister especially, and be like "Hollis is doing the best she can." 

The mystery in The Bell Tolls constantly had me guessing and plotting my own theories regarding the Bell Tolls case. Matthias Bell was an interesting guy to say the least - cold as well as cutting - and while I'm glad I'll never have to deal with him, it was interesting to see his blackmail scam come apart. Every case brought an interesting little twist and mystery of its own to the book. Each time one of them was introduced, I internally started debating their level of motive and the ability they had to do the "deed." By the time the bad guy was reveled, I somewhat had an idea it was him but at the same time I was still surprised by how it was all carried out! As mentioned above, I also liked Kiki Turner's case. It added a different type of element to the book, and even though it wasn't a mystery per say, I was constantly wondering what would happen between Kiki and her daughter. It was incredibly sad to say the least. Lastly, the side-plot with her husband caught me completely off guard, but that last little line? Oh my gosh, my heart was beating out of my chest - I was shocked! 

In all, The Bell Tolls by R. Franklin James is a perfect lazy day read. I'm now excited to go back and read the previous Hollis Morgan Mysteries. I just need to know how it all began! 

Grade: B+ 

The Bell Tolls is now out! 

Source: eARC provided by publicity firm for blog tour - thanks Nicole! 

About the Author: 
R. Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. From there she cultivated a different type of writing—legislation and public policy. After serving as Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles, under millionaire Richard Riordan, she went back to her first love—writing, and in 2013 her debut novel, The Fallen Angels Book Club was published by Camel Press. Her second book in The Hollis Morgan Mystery Series, Sticks & Stones, was followed by The Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club, and The Trade List. The Bell Tolls, book five was released in June 2017.

R. Franklin James lives in Northern California with her husband.

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  1. How do you make probate interesting? THIS WAY!!!

    1. Probate brings out the very worse (or best) in people. I worked in Probate--the stories I could tell!

  2. I have never heard of this series before but I'm glad you're enjoying it!

    Thanks for sharing!
    ~Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

    1. Hi Brittany,

      The series starts with The Fallen Angels Book Club. It's a fast, twist and turning read as well.

  3. This series is new to me but I am always ready for a good mystery. Thanks for putting it on my radar!

    1. Carole,
      The first book in the series is The Fallen Angels Book Club. Each book is a stand alone, but Hollis develops as a character in each one. Enjoy the read! Rae

  4. I haven't read any of R. Franklin James's books, but as of this blog, I am very interested!
    Thanks Lauren

    1. The Fallen Angels Book Club is the first in the series. Hope you enjoy!

  5. Thanks, Lauren for the great review.
    The Hollis Morgan Mystery Series begins with The Fallen Angels Book Club. Hollis development and adventures will hopefully keep you engaged to the very last pages.

  6. Fabulous post! I really enjoyed reading the review! This book catches my interest, because it sounds like a very interesting read with well-developed characters and an intriguing plot! Looking forward to checking out this book!


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