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The Bell Tolls (Hollis Morgan Mystery) Paperback – June 1, 2017
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About the Author
R. Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and flourished in a career of public policy and political advocacy. In 2013, the first book in her Hollis Morgan Mystery Series, The Fallen Angels Book Club, was published by Camel Press. The Bell Tolls is the fifth book in the series. James resides in Northern California. For more information please visit
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Top customer reviews
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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!
At its heart, this book examines what it means to give someone a second chance, the sheer power of it. Everyone has something they wouldn't want the world to know about them, and the unlucky ones whose past sins are made public are left to shoulder that burden, sometimes for the rest of their lives.
That's why Hollis is the last one to point fingers at anyone. She proclaims, "I know what it feels like to lose the faith of family, friends, and society, and worse - in myself. I know what it's like to be shunned, and I know I'm not going to let a scum…hurt an innocent person."
So she becomes a crusader, looking out for the welfare of those who share her lot.
First, there's young Vince, the guy with a checkered family life, whose mom is constantly in and out of rehab. His new girlfriend works in the office and doesn't think he's good enough for her, so he bends over backward to try to impress her. Hollis understands where he's coming from and decides to trust him with some additional freelance surveillance work, giving him a temporary promotion out of the mail room, and hopefully a boost in his girlfriend's estimation.
Then there's Kiki, an ex-stripper, who Hollis is trying to help reconcile with her daughter before she dies. Hollis knows the two need to finally face one another because another arms-length, third-hand conversation isn't going to help matters. After years of being unable to communicate with each other, Hollis gets Kiki to admit to her daughter, "I knew from the very first time I held you in my arms I didn't deserve you. You were an angel, and I was...what I was."
What it all comes down to is healing by being able to let go of the lingering guilt and self-righteousness on both sides. It's all about taking a person at face value for who they are now, not who they were before. There's some small part in all of us that seeks some kind of closure with the past. Bottom line, who isn't grateful to be forgiven and given the gift of peace of mind?
Most recent customer reviews
Harsh words, but true. It's clear Hollis is the proverbial black sheep.Read more