Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement. I know, having written two. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.
That said, here is my honest opinion of False Allegiance, a mystery crime-drama by E.L. Lindley
Characters: False Allegiance‘s protagonist, red-haired, impulsive Georgie Connelly, is a documentary film-maker and a Brit. She instinctively knows when things aren’t right, and has an irresistible urge to get to the bottom of said things, and fix them. Alas, before things get fixed, Georgie’s methods usually cause a substantial amount of “deconstruction.” Imho, Georgie gets unfairly blamed for a lot of the damage, which occurs when bad guys react, usually with violence, to Georgie’s sometimes unsubtle probing.
However, Georgie is surrounded by a cast of characters, who do blame Georgie for her tendency to charge in where angels fear to tread. They include her lover, James, and several friends and associates. Critical and argumentative as they are, they generally see that Georgie is right in spotting wrong, and are there for her in the resulting maelstroms, though not without friction. Here’s Georgie and James:
“James, get out here quick! We have to get to the hospital.”
James opened the bathroom door, still wet from his shower and towelling his hair vigorously.
“Sean’s been in an accident, we have to get to the hospital.”
“He was knocked down by a car. Come on get dressed, we need to go.”
“Yes, now! What the fuck’s wrong with you?”
“Georgie, just slow down. It’s after eleven, we need to call the hospital and check on his condition. There’s no way the hospital is going to allow visitors at this time if it’s not life or death. Plus we aren’t family.”
Georgie stared at him, her eyes cold with contempt.
“Oh fuck off, James. Why don’t you tell the truth, you’ve never liked Sean? Well, I’m meeting Julie at the hospital so you can just do what you like. For your information, he’s in a bad way and he doesn’t have anybody else. You really are a selfish prick sometimes.” James reeled from the force of Georgie’s tirade.
“I’m a selfish prick? Why? Because I am pointing out the obvious, that we are not close family and so the hospital is not going to let us in to see him at almost midnight?”
Giving him a final look of utter disdain, Georgie stalked out of the bedroom, picking up her bag as she went. “I’m calling a cab.”
James began grabbing clothes out of the closet, pulling them onto his still damp body.
“Hold on, Georgie. I’m going to drive you but don’t expect them to let us in.”
“Don’t bother; you don’t give a shit about Sean anyway.”
“Oh stop being so Goddamn childish!” James exploded, struggling with a t-shirt that had become twisted and stuck. They found James’ car and endured a tense, silent journey to West Hollywood.
That’s one of the things I love about Georgie. She doesn’t let common sense stand in the way of doing what’s right. E.L. gives Georgie a description to match. Here’s how one of the cops, Martha Chapman, who gets sucked into Georgie’s unofficial investigation, sees Georgie at first glance — She took a moment to consider the other woman, whose chestnut hair seemed to cascade everywhere, softening a face that was all angles and sharp watchful eyes. “Wild, almost feral beauty,” is another of Martha’s observations of Georgie.
Plot: When Joely, a promising young college, turns up dead of a drug overdose at a sorority party, her mother suspects murder and enlists Georgie to find out what really happened. Meanwhile, Georgie and James’ best friends, Eric and Callie, undergo a catastrophic break up.
Setting: The setting is Los Angeles, but really could be almost any metropolitan area. E.L. offers enough description of immediate locales to orient readers in scenes, but there aren’t any landmark descriptions of L.A., the beaches, sea or the surrounding hills.
What I thought could’ve been done better: False Allegiance, like many indie books, mine included, could stand a look-over from a good proofreader or editor. There are several instances of wrong word — “…he walked straight passed her towards the bedroom.” Should be “past,” of course — is one of the most frequent.
As a sequel — False Allegiance is the fourth novel in the Georgie Connelly series — I felt the story could have used a little more back-story for the returning characters to help the book more solidly stand alone. I read — and thoroughly enjoyed — the first Georgie Connelly novel, Business as Usual, so I had some familiarity with the characters going in. I’m pretty sure the novel’s considerable strengths will tide new readers along, but bringing them up to speed to begin with could only enhance an already enjoyable read.
What I thought was good: The characters of False Allegiance make the book a completely entertaining read. I think there’s maybe two characters who aren’t stubborn, volatile personalities. This results in a narrative that’s constantly popping, filled with emotional fireworks, as the characters argue with, and shout at, each other through sometimes dangerous moments. I know a lot of people like that; the constant bickering, recrimination and disagreement over everything — most spurred by the peppery Georgie — brings an air of almost comic reality to the story. The fact is, in real life, people ARE difficult, and E.L. captures it beautifully.
Georgie opened her mouth, thinking Julie was done but she had been merely taking a breath. “You will never change. I don’t know why I’m even surprised. It was the same with Petrov. You almost got me killed, for Christ’s sake! And don’t even get me started with Jed Monroe.”
Marilyn began patting Julie’s hand.
“Don’t get worked up, darling, you’ll do yourself no good. There’s no point in trying to reason with her. I think it could be some sort of mental imbalance from her father’s side. But then again, her father always spoiled her, indulged her every whim.”
“I am in the room, mother!” Georgie snapped before turning her gaze onto Julie. “And if you’re finished, maybe I could point out that I have made more progress than the rest of you put together.”
“Actually, she’s right,” Eric stated.
“Shut up!” Julie barked at him before whipping back to Georgie. “That’s not the point and you know it.”
“Okay, I’m sorry. There, are you satisfied?”
Sean cleared his throat and tried to sit up straighter, wincing in pain as he did so.
“Listen, let’s move passed all this crap and work out what to do next.”
I think E.L.’s dialogue is wonderful, real, raw and powerful, even when dealing with inconsequentials:
She smirked as she observed Eric already stuffing a piece of pizza into his mouth.
“Glad you still have an appetite.”
“I’m starving, I haven’t eaten all day.”
“You’re a pig,” Georgie snapped, as he devoured the slice in two bites.
I love Georgie, but I’m glad I don’t have to live with her.
I enjoyed the plot and the convoluted way Georgie got involved in investigating the upper crust fraternity and sorority. E.L. has a real talent for showing the messiness and uncertainty of life, giving her narrative a powerful ring of truth.
Overall: Fiery Georgie Connelly is one of the most memorable characters I’ve met, indie novel or otherwise. Her occasionally rough language, her refusal to bow to inhibitions, and her single-minded drive to do what’s right as she sees it, consequences be damned, make for vastly entertaining reading. While the novel could use a bit of editorial polish, it still roars along at a furious pace, just like Georgie, to a realistic conclusion, and what looks like number five in the Georgie Connelly saga.
Good job, E.L.!
And for sexy superheroine paranormal sci fi romantic adventure thrillers, check out my own novel American Goddesses on Amazon or Smashwords, and the newly published sequel Rogue Goddesses ~ thanks for visiting Honest Indie!