Among the Ashes (CrabbyPatty’s Review)

Title: Among the Ashes
Author: C.L. Brees
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: July 25, 2018
Genre(s): Murder / Mystery
Page Count: 357 pages
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5



As one of the most up-and-coming criminal defense attorneys in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Caleb Winters has virtually everything anybody could hope for: incredible friends, a new lover, and nearly perfect record of crushing his foe, Crown Prosecutor Andrew Murphy, in court.

An early morning phone call on the day of his closing submissions dredges up faded memories. Skeletal remains were found north of town and the constabulary believes them to be of his missing husband, Sebastian.

After losing his case in court, Caleb’s new lover disappears. He suspects his angry client is responsible for his disappearance, but his pleas with the constabulary only drive them to put Caleb at the top of their suspect list. As the days go by, and the bodies pile up, the constabulary must consider the possibility someone else is behind the mayhem.

With a handful of suspects, all with a motive for wanting to ruin Caleb’s life, will the constables assigned figure out who’s accountable for the chaos? Or will Caleb find himself like his friends; departed too soon?

C.L. Brees’ plot in “Among the Ashes” is a good one – there is a missing husband, a new love with a secret, an old acquaintance whose friendship has turned to hatred, a murder trial with a vengeful guilty party, close lifelong friends … and absolutely nothing is as it seems. I realize I am in the minority here, but while I was impressed by the intricate plot, its implementation just did not work for me.

The author writes frequently in first person present tense, so we get plenty of details about Caleb’s every action (“the butter liquifies and Caleb dumps the eggs into the sizzling pan. He waits, stirring the eggs …”), but little in the way of character development. Missing husband Sebastian reads like a shadow with no substance or depth and new lover Gabriel is also lightly fleshed out. For example, I read for quite some time until I finally learned Caleb’s age and general description and while none of that is essential to the story, it did not make me fully vested in Caleb nor interested in what happens to him.

There are numerous twists and turns but as the mystery finally unfolded, the conclusion was very improbable. I’m willing to suspend disbelief if a plot thoroughly engrosses me, but so much of what happens to solve the murder and answer questions about the various secondary characters just seemed so unlikely and bizarre.

For me personally, I was never captured by the characters and completely stymied by their motives, so I cannot personally recommend “Among the Ashes.” However, I know this book has received generally good reviews, so I am willing to concede this may be a case of “It’s not YOU, it’s ME.” Your mileage may vary.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Among The Ashes provided by C.L. Brees in exchange of an honest review.


1 comment

  • I’m glad I read the review first. I liked the sound of this book, but writing in the present always turns me off. Brrr.
    And no worries, sometimes books are not for you when other rave about them.


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Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend. My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh ... not in my wheelhouse, but I'm a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre. Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more. A few "badges" from NetGalley: 100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader
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