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HOSTILE WITNESS (Thriller/legal thriller): A Josie Bates Thriller (The Witness Series Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Rebecca Forster
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,255 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When sixteen-year-old Hannah Sheraton is arrested for the murder of her stepgrandfather, the chief justice of the California Supreme court, her distraught mother turns to her old college roommate, Josie Baylor-Bates, for help. Josie, once a hot-shot criminal defense attorney, left the fast track behind for a small practice in Hermosa Beach, California. But Hannah Sheraton intrigues her and, when the girl is charged as an adult, Josie cannot turn her back. But the deeper she digs the more Josie realizes that politics, the law and family relationships create a combustible and dangerous situation. When the horrible truth is uncovered it can save Hannah Sheraton or destroy them both.

"This story was inspired by a case my husband handled. As a superior court judge he had to sentence a minor to life in prison. It made me wonder how I felt about minors arrested for violent crimes. Are they most vulnerable among us - capable or horrible violence, perceived as adults and yet emotionally still children?" Rebecca Forster

"An enthralling read, with colorful, well-developed characters and the unique atmosphere of the California beach communities." Nancy Taylor Rosenberg

"Blending complex psychological character portraits with spot-on accurage courtroom drmaa, Forster's riveting legal thriller keeps the plot twists coming until the last, satisfying page." - Alafair Burke

Editorial Reviews


5.0 out of 5 stars awesome book!, January 4, 2012
Patty (CORVALLIS, OREGON, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: HOSTILE WITNESS (legal thriller, thriller) (The Witness Series,#1) (Kindle Edition)
This book was so well written. It kept me guessing up to the end. I recommend it to anyone who loves a great mystery with romance. 
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic thrill ride, January 4, 2012
L. Smith (Upstate New York) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: HOSTILE WITNESS (legal thriller, thriller) (The Witness Series,#1) (Kindle Edition)
This book had it all. Everything I enjoy in a legal thriller was in this story. Characters who tug at both your heart and your mind. Courtroom scenes that produce great drama and insight. Twists and turns galore. Fights that are NOT over the top. Family drama as well as legal drama. I am very glad that I took the time to read the sample...then download and finish the whole thing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars i am now a big fan!!!, January 3, 2012
shopper "shopper" - See all my reviews
This review is from: HOSTILE WITNESS (legal thriller, thriller) (The Witness Series,#1) (Kindle Edition)
i never thought id become a fan of rebecca forster.. i mean i was a loyal john grisham, dean koontz and richard north patterson.. now im going to add up her books to my collection!

From the Author

I love this book because I feel the characters so strongly. Josie, Hannah, Archer and all their beach crew are as alive to me as if they lived in Hermosa Beach on the Strand. I didn't know how special they would become when I wrote Hostile Witness though. It was never meant to be the beginning of a series. The editor who originally published this book suggested that I continue on, and I'm so glad she did. This book was inspired by a case my husband had (he's a judge). He had to sentence a sixteen-year-old boy to life in the adult prison for a horrendous murder. I started to wonder how I felt about teenagers being tried as adults and that one thought led me down many roads.  I am particularly intrigued by Hannah's relationship with her mother and Josie. I hope you will be, too.

Product Details

  • File Size: 538 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002Z7G0QO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
427 of 447 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely riveting from start to finish February 23, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I haven't read many legal thrillers in the past few years, but I think I am going to have to add more books of this genre to my future reading list - especially those written by Rebecca Forster. Hostile Witness is just a fantastic, completely absorbing read, the kind of book that makes you hate your job because having to get up early for work means having to set the novel aside in the wee hours of the morning just so you can get a few hours of sleep. Any thriller is best judged by the number of hours' sleep you miss, and Hostile Witness is right up there with the best of them.

Usually, legal thrillers have a few passages that are dry and boring or feature cardboard characters lacking any spark of life in them. Not so with Hostile Witness. Forster has given life to some vivid, remarkably human characters - the heroic, sympathetic lawyer who puts a painful past behind her to defend a young girl accused of arson and murder; the 16-year-old defendant, a troubled teen lost in emotional chaos and harboring shocking secrets, the girls' seriously dysfunctional mother and step-father seemingly hiding behind mysterious secrets of their own, the hard-nosed yet somehow slightly noble prosecuting attorney, even the victim himself, a man already dead when the novel begins.

The protagonist of the novel is Josie Baylor-Bates, a lawyer who finds herself back in the criminal defense game she left some years ago. Not only is she still dealing with the pain of being abandoned by her mother when she was just a young girl, she is haunted by an old case. An accused murderer she successfully defended (and truly believed to be innocent) turned around and killed again - only this time it was her own children.
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184 of 193 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exciting Legal Thriller May 26, 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I like a good deal. You know how when you go to the grocery store and you find your favorite cereal is buy one get one free, you almost feel like you've won some sort of lottery. Now, you know the store has upped the base price of the cereal, but you still snatch it up and through it your cart. There is a great feel to a two for one deal. That's how I have always felt about a good courtroom drama. You're getting two dramas for the price of one. The first drama is outside the courtroom. The incident, the lives affected, secrets, conspiracies and so much more pepper the events leading up to a trial. Then the trial, the legal maneuverings, the back room deals, the attorneys and judges, you can't get much better than that.
Recently there has been more and more legal thrillers that forgo the courtroom. The lawyer turned detective who solves the mystery without even filing a motion. While these books are often quite entertaining, I sometimes feel like I missed something. In Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster we get the whole enchilada.
Josie Baylor-Bates is a talented yet flawed attorney. Tortured by her past and by her success as a criminal defense attorney, all Josie wants now is to settle into a small neighborhood practice taking care of wills and eveyday legal problems. Then her old college roomate Linda Sheraton shows up at her door, her daughter having just been arrested for the murder of her step-grandfather, a California Supreme Court Justice. This was exactly the kind of high profile case that Josie wanted to avoid. Josie's intentions were to meet with the girl, get her through the bail hearing then hand her off to a qualified attorney, but after meeting with Hannah she can't get the image of the beautiful yet troubled girl out of her head.
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275 of 302 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes interesting / often absurd September 19, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It helped that this book was free on Kindle when I ordered it... I had very mixed feelings about this novel. Some of the characters and narrative were done quite well, but there were a number of places where key scenes made no sense whatsoever. During a trial, for example, the main character (defense lawyer) began asking a hostile witness detailed questions about things that happened to him at specific ages ("Isn't it true that, when you were 6, such-and-such happened?"). The lawyer had just been told some vague information about the witness by someone who was unlikely to have known even the vaguest of details, yet seemed to have gleaned all this information from a brief conversation.

The book is also in dire need of a spell-checker and proofreading to correct confusing sentence structure and peculiar punctuation.

The "bad guys" (and there were several) were all unbelievable. The protagonists, however, were sympathetically drawn.

All in all, I doubt I'll read any of the other titles in this series. Hopefully, the author has since started working with a better editing and proofreading team, since she does seem to have some talent for writing and is probably capable of creating a much better novel than this one.
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67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/4 Stars April 5, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Plot/Storyline: 4 Stars

The plot was refreshingly surprising in a few areas. While I thought I knew where it was going, it differed just enough to deliver that mild "Oh, okay, that's not quite what I expected" moment.

I have to admit that I knew who the killer was halfway through the book. That didn't really bother me as I still had enough doubt to make me want confirmation at the end.

I found the novel wanting in the interactions between Josie, the attorney and main character, and Hannah, the young defendant. There just didn't seem to be enough conversation between them. I understand Josie, as a defense attorney, not wanting to ask, or even know, if her client is guilty, in order to give a good defense. However, I would have thought that she would have at least wanted to hear Hannah's account of the events of that night. If nothing else, she would need to hear it to decide if Hannah should testify on her own behalf. But, the conversations between them were kept to a bare minimum, so much so that I found it very dubious that Hannah felt such a connection with Josie.

The book goes off course a few times when it switches to other people's viewpoints. I found that completely unnecessary to the story. It appeared to be a very forced way to try to keep up the suspense. Unfortunately, when portions of a story are told from other viewpoints in a mystery, I always feel like those sections are `fake'. For instance, if a novel switched to the viewpoint of a killer, telling you all of his or her thoughts, and the person never thinks about the killing at all, well, then, we didn't really get all of their thoughts, did we? I don't think people drop little clues to themselves in their own thoughts.

The switching of viewpoints was not done smoothly, either.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Excellent plot and timeless themes. Nice to have a protagonist heroine who fires with her
Principles and not a gun.
Published 11 hours ago by ken
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it. Definitely going to read more from this ...
I liked it. Definitely going to read more from this author.
Published 1 day ago by John H Brooks
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it in three hours
I didn't expect to like this as much as I did but I absolutely loved it. For the first in a long time, I was very disappointed when a book ended.
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeps you guessing til the end
Intelligently written tale of family crisis and the bounds of love. Great investigative skills and strong main characters. Greed the strongest motive of all.
Published 3 days ago by Monica
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story.
Good story believable characters. Would buy more books by this author
Published 4 days ago by Charles Rogers
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellence in narration and tour de force
This was a wonderful world of intrigue and mystery clothed in a legal world of disloyalty amid devotion. For those who think that a mother wouldn't do anything to lose her own. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Larry D George
2.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful
Court room drawn
Ma could have been longer and better. Hard to like any court reading other than Grisham's stories.
Published 4 days ago by Teresa Turner
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not a page turner but it was a decent read.
Published 4 days ago by Annette
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Impressed
This book just didn't hold my attention as I had hoped. I love books that you just do not want to stop reading. This one wasn't like that.
Published 5 days ago by Love my fireplace
5.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating for a reader who values our children.. ...
Frustrating for a reader who values our children... Thankfully Josie finally perseveres and gets the real murderer, but I needed her to die on that dining room floor not go to jail... Read more
Published 5 days ago by DJtheDJ
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More About the Author

I marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym and did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall. Then I wrote a book on a crazy dare and found my passion.

Now, I am a USA Today and Amazon best selling author with more than 26 books to my name - and if you ask me where all those words came from I'd be hard pressed to tell you. All I know is that I wake up with a story in my head and go to bed the same way.

I write thrillers with an eye toward the very human element of my characters. The Witness Series follows the lives of attorney Josie Bates, her ward, Hannah, and Josie's lover, Archer. The series was voted #1 in PRG Reviewers Choice for series and Eyewitness was voted #1 in the mystery/thriller genre. I try to push creative boundaries with my non-series books. Before Her Eyes garnered a B&P Readers Choice Award for best mystery.

I have taught at the UCLA Writers Program, UC Irvine and Cal State Long Beach and lecture at writers groups, women's conferences and philanthropic events. I am most proud of the work I do with The Young Writers Conference, a program that helps motivate middle school children to explore the power of words. I am particularly drawn to kids who want to write because both my sons have always had a passion for it. Eric is a playwright and novelist (see Eric Czuleger) and Alex is in film.

When I'm not writing I'm traveling, on a tennis court, working a sewing machine or reading. Thank you so much for taking a look at my author page. You can find out more about me - and leave me a note - at

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I realize this is an old post, and i'm assuming you've found your answer by now. But in case you haven't, then the answer is yes. Download the kindle app from the app store, sign in with your amazon account, and download whatever you have in your library. Be sure to look for free books. Good luck!
Jul 29, 2013 by Onion Eaters |  See all 2 posts
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