Pat Brown's "Only the Truth" came to my Kindle via my daily eReader News Today email... once again, I was alerted to this awesome story being free for the day (Aug 10) so I read the description, saw all the amazing 5 star reviews and decided I must download it. I started it and finished it in one sitting... I started it late night and even though I was pitifully exhausted, I stayed up to finish it. For a short novel (147 pages in the print edition), Pat Brown delivers a thrilling experience.
Harkening back to the writing styles and small town settings of the earlier American authors – John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, and Carson McCullers - "Only the Truth" is a psychological mystery with as many twists as the country road leading to the humble home of Billy Ray Hutchins, a lonely uneducated man living in the hills of Arkansas. Life changes little for him from day to day until he brings home a young drifter he meets at the railroad tracks, the mysterious Charlene, whose last name he never asks. He becomes her Sweet Billy Ray and his love for Charlene is steady and uncomplicated until the sheriff shows up to take her away in handcuffs. With the only woman he has ever loved behind bars for cold-bloodedly murdering the old man across the road, a confused and devastated Billy Ray sets out on a quest to find the truth, only the truth, whether it leads him to be able to save his Charlene from a death sentence or it frees him from her spell.
We follow along with Billy Ray as he meets Charlene and carries on with a humble little life on the mountain. Content with being a street sweeper and coming home to Charlene and Big Dog, Billy Ray doesn't question any of Charlene's oddness. She does not leave the home and is a bit of a hermit, but Billy Ray is happy and she seems so too, so that is all that matters. As the story progresses, Billy Ray becomes confused by Charlene when she suddenly is even more withdrawn. This is further confounded by Charlene being thrown in jail for murder shortly thereafter. What is Billy Ray to do, now that his only love is behind bars? He does what any man in love would do- search for the truth.
I cannot praise this novel enough. I was instantly drawn to Billy Ray and his character. Brown does a wonderful job building his character in such a short time. However, at the same time, leaving bits to ponder. Billy Ray narrates the story and his point of view and simple style was a huge part of what drew me to his character as well. It is Billy Ray's innocence and quest for answers that pulls the reader in. The mystery of Charlene is what keeps us pushing through to the very end. Charlene is a character that is developed as the story unfolds- while we are trying to decipher the mystery, Brown is feeding us bits of information about who Charlene is and where she came from. The development of the mystery is extremely captivating. I often find mystery stories predictable- while there were a few things I saw coming, most of it caught me off guard- something I love in a mystery novel. Brown did a spectacular job pulling her audience in, keeping us on our toes, and making every moment of the novel count. A fabulous read- I recommend everyone read it. Seriously!
Also, some of you may know Pat Brown as a criminal profiler who can be seen often on TV. Visit her Amazon Author Page here to learn more about all the awesome work she has accomplished beyond being an author! She also has a blog which you can find here and her Criminal Profiling Agency information which you can find here. While finding out further information about Pat Brown, I browsed through her other publications... I will absolutely be checking out her other works. She has a memoir, "The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths" which sounds amazing, and I think that will be my next pick.
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow