Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Fiction Review: Lives Laid Away

I'm trying to squeeze in one more quick book review before I leave for Booktopia VT 2019 tomorrow morning (yay!). Appropriately, I just finished another book for the event last night, Lives Laid Away by Stephen Mack Jones. I really enjoyed this fast-paced thriller and can't wait to meet the author this weekend!

Detroit ex-cop August Snow is working on improving the neighborhood he grew up in in Mexicantown in South Detroit. It's a close-knit and diverse neighborhood, including his father's best friend, Tomas, and his activist wife, Elena; Jimmy, a young black man, and Carlos, a Mexican man, who are both helping August with the reconstruction projects; and a new neighbor, a Brit named Trent T.R. Ogilvy, who wears a man-bun and does yoga on his front porch. The neighborhood is shook up from the constant patrolling of ICE trucks, harassing anyone who even looks Hispanic, including those who've been U.S. citizens for many decades. When an unknown young Mexican woman shows up in the Detroit River, an apparent suicide but dressed up as Marie Antoinette, the county coroner asks his old friend, August, to show her photo around the neighborhood. Elena recognizes her as a local teen named Izzy, a recent immigrant who had disappeared. Alarmingly, this seems to be happening more and more to undocumented young women.The police don't seem too interested in digging into the case, so August, Tomas, and their friends begin investigating on their own, not realizing that Izzy is the tip of a very large iceberg. Their inquiries lead them from hole-in-the-wall Neo-Nazi biker bars to wealthy suburban neighborhoods, and everywhere in between. And things get more and more dangerous the deeper they dig.

I thoroughly enjoyed this suspenseful, compelling mystery/thriller that is both fast and funny. August is a wonderful protagonist, full of character, sketchy history, and plenty of flaws but with a huge heart. It's refreshing to see a different kind of detective at the center of a thriller, as August is not only a disgraced cop but also the son of an African-American cop father and a Mexican-American painter mother. This is actually book 2 in the series (book 1 is simply called August Snow), but I had no trouble at all jumping right in, with the author providing enough backstory that I never felt as if I was missing out. It is a rather violent story, with a bit more gun violence (and gun details) than I prefer, but the story itself was so interesting, unique, and compelling that I didn't mind. I stayed up way too late reading the past few nights because I was dying to see how it turned out, and my husband is next in line to read this exciting new thriller series.

296 pages, Soho Crime

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Listen to a sample of the audio book (which sounds great!).

You can purchase Lives Laid Away from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
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Or you can order Lives Laid Away from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. Oh, this sounds really good. Onto the TBR list it goes! Have a wonderful time at Booktopia.

    1. Thanks, Helen! Booktopia was amazing, as always, and I loved meeting this author - also bought book 1 of his while I was there!