A Thornton Mystery
by C. L. Tolbert
November 20 – December 15, 2023 Virtual Book Tour
A quiet tree-lined street in New Orleans erupts in panic when the body of Sally Wilcox is discovered by her landlord. Sally had been stabbed, and she was clutching a kitchen knife in her hand at the time of her death. Later, police discover evidence at the scene which implicates Sally’s son, Jeremy, in her murder. He was arrested the next day.
Law school professor Emma Thornton is convinced by a friend to take Jeremy’s case. She begins her investigation into Jeremy and his family, and the facts surrounding the night of the murder. Layer after layer of family secrets slowly reveal themselves, as the numbers of murders and kidnappings multiply.
Holding the key to the killer’s trail and the case’s final resolution, Emma’s success depends on whether she can maintain control over her own reckless impulses.
Praise for The Legacy:
“Fearless, relentless, compassionate, and driven by an unyielding sense of justice, law professor Emma Thornton battles mounting evidence in a race to save a mentally ill young man from a presumption of guilt in the gruesome murders of his parents.”
~ Roger Johns, a Georgia Author of the Year and author of the Wallace Hartman Mysteries
“Fearless Law Professor Emma Thompson returns to defend a young man with schizophrenia accused of murdering his mother. Faced with a second murder, an unscrupulous prosecutor, a family with mental health issues, a pusher of pain meds, and a Gitanes-smoking stalker, Emma finds her marriage in jeopardy and her life on the line. Author C. L. Tolbert proves the Big Easy has never been easy, especially for a fighter like Emma whom I would follow anywhere.”
~ Valerie J. Brooks, award-winning author of the Angeline Porter Trilogy
“Unwavering in her conviction, law professor Emma Thornton must navigate a labyrinth of lies and deception to arrive at the truth and vindicate a disturbed young man wrongly accused of murder. Not only a suspenseful story, The Legacy represents the triumph of the human spirit to persevere in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.”
~ Lawrence Kelter, International bestselling author of the Stephanie Chalice Mystery Series
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: November 2023
Number of Pages: 260
Series: A Thornton Mystery, #4
Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
March 19, 1997
Sally Wilcox wiped her hands on the dish cloth and folded it neatly before placing it on the kitchen counter. It had been a long day at the shop. Two funerals down and they had already started preparing for a weekend wedding. She loved working with flowers, but the job triggered her sciatica. She could hardly stand by the end of the day. She was glad to be home.
She hobbled to the TV room, and sat down on the couch, the pain in her body immediately eased by the down-filled cushions. She bumped into the table next to the couch and knocked over her favorite photograph of her kids, Jeremy and Becky. She placed the frame back on the table and stared at it for several seconds. She missed them so much.
The cat curled into a circle on her lap as she propped her legs up on a fluffy ottoman. Comforted by her surroundings, she dozed off almost immediately.
Three hours later she was awakened by the sound of static from her television. Channel Six had signed off for the night and refrains from the national anthem had just begun. An American flag fluttered across the television screen. It was just past midnight. She moved the cat from her lap, turned off the television and all the downstairs lights, and began making her way up the stairs, toward her bedroom.
She stopped when she heard something that sounded like a restrained step. The cat’s ears twitched in the direction of the noise. Could someone, a stealthy burglar or worse, be creeping around the house? She almost laughed out loud, amused by her own foolishness. She was such a worrier. Of course, it had to be Charlie the parrot ruffling his feathers. She couldn’t remember if she draped the cloth over his seven-foot-tall cage.
Still, she waited, and listened, not moving for several seconds. Then she froze as she heard a thump. She glanced out of a nearby window and could see wind blowing in the trees. Thinking that a branch must have bumped against the roof, she stood on the stairs for a few more seconds. Just to be sure. Hearing nothing, and convinced everything was okay, she continued up the stairs. Six a.m. came early.
In her bedroom, she changed into her favorite nightgown, the silk one that felt like butter on her skin, cleaned her face, and flossed and brushed her teeth. No matter how exhausted she was, she always completed her nightly routine. Her mother had insisted on it when she was young and still at home, pointing to an aunt’s ravaged face as an example of what could happen if she didn’t comply. The practice had become her only indulgence.
The cat had already curled up on top of the coverlet when Sally pulled back the sheets. Then she heard another sound. A muffled bump.
She grabbed a robe and stepped into the upstairs hallway. The staircase and the light switch were only a few feet from her bedroom door. She found the switch and flipped the toggle up, but nothing happened.
“What the…,” she whispered.
The cat rubbed up against Sally’s legs, and she jumped.
Then she heard another sound, and glanced out of the window at the end of the hall. The trees were still blowing fiercely. She tip-toed down the first two steps and peered over the banister, unable to see anything in the dark. She continued down the staircase, stopping every few feet to listen.
When she was at the second step from the bottom she stopped.
“Hello? Is anyone there?” Her voice quavered.
“Youuu Whooo!” Charlie was awake now.
She still couldn’t see anything but didn’t hear any unexpected sounds in the house. She shook her head, embarrassed by her over-reaction. The sounds had to be from Charlie, or maybe it was the wind in the trees. But just to be safe, she fled to the kitchen, feeling her way in the dark, and grabbed a knife from the block on the counter. Then she stopped, making certain all was well, and turned to retrace her steps back to her bedroom.
Seconds later she felt a sharp punch in her stomach. She swung the knife she clutched in her hand, wildly stabbing into space until she felt a resistance. She’d nicked something. She turned, and raised her hand, stabbing blindly, then felt another punch in her stomach, and one in her chest. Then another and another. A warm liquid flowed down her legs. Her hand flew to a spot on her chest where she felt piercing pain and she realized that blood was pouring from her body. Something had happened. Someone was in front of her. She could sense their presence. Hear their breathing. She’d been stabbed.
Her robe was wet, and blood was beginning to drip onto the floor. She felt dizzy. Her legs were on fire, as if a thousand needles had been jabbed into her shins. Then her legs started to shake. She collapsed, falling to the ground on her knees.
Then a swift rush of air. She wasn’t certain what it was until it was too late. She saw
the knife this time. And a dark figure.
Charlie squawked, “Youu whooo!”
The last thing she felt was a crushing pain in her chest. Her heart, already broken, had stopped.
Excerpt from THE LEGACY by C.L. Tolbert. Copyright 2023 by C.L. Tolbert. Reproduced with permission from C.L. Tolbert. All rights reserved.
Licensed in Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi, Cynthia Tolbert retired after thirty-five years of practicing law and began writing full time. After winning the Georgia State Bar Fiction Writing Contest, she developed the winning short story into the first novel in the Thornton Mystery Series, OUT FROM SILENCE, published in 2019. Two additional mysteries in the series have also been published, THE REDEMPTION, in 2021, and SANCTUARY, published in 2022. The fourth book in the series, THE LEGACY, will be published in November of 2023.
Cynthia taught at Loyola Law School for several years where she directed a homeless clinic, and worked with third year law students in actual cases. All of these experiences have informed her fiction.
She is an avid reader, a mother of two, and a grandmother to three beautiful girls. She lives in Austin, TX with her husband and schnauzer, Yoda.
Tour Host Info:
Book Formats: ePub, Print, Netgalley
Hosting Options: Review, Interview, Guest Post, Showcase
Giveaway: There will be a tour-wide PICT Giveaway
More: According to the author The Legacy does not include: Excessive Strong Language, Graphic Violence, Explicit Sexual Scenes, or Rape. However, readers may encounter content that is considered to be another trigger situation. Generally the content is considered to be: Clean (mild language no more than a mild swear or two, no sex, mild innuendo) content. At this time, PICT staff have not yet read this book and cannot give additional information.
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