by C.L. Tolbert
June 1-30, 2021 Tour
Emma Thornton is back in The Redemption, C.L. Tolbert’s second novel in the Thornton Mystery Series.
When two men are murdered one muggy September night in a New Orleans housing project, an eye witness identifies only one suspect – Louis Bishop- a homeless sixteen-year old. Louis is arrested the next day and thrown into Orleans Parish Prison. Emma Thornton, a law professor and director of the Homeless Law Clinic at St. Stanislaus Law School in the city agrees to represent him.
When they take on the case, Emma and her students discover a tangle of corruption, intrigue, and more violence than they would have thought possible, even in New Orleans. They uncover secrets about the night of the murders, and illegal dealings in the city, and within Louis’s family. As the case progresses, Emma and her family are thrown into a series of life-threating situations. But in the end, Emma gains Louis’s trust, which allows him to reveal his last, and most vital secret.
“With The Redemption, Cynthia Tolbert delivers another beautifully written and compelling read in her Thornton Mystery series, as law professor Emma Thornton’s fight to save a teen wrongly accused of murder endangers her own life in this gripping tale of corruption and crime in the 1990s Big Easy.”
Ellen Byron, Agatha Award Winning Author of the Cajun Country Mysteries
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: February 9th 2021
Number of Pages: 286
Series:Thornton Mysteries, Book 2 || Each is a Stand Alone Mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
In 2010, Cynthia Tolbert won the Georgia Bar Journal’s fiction contest for the short story version of OUT FROM SILENCE. Cynthia developed that story into the first full-length novel of the Thornton Mystery Series by the same name, which was published by Level Best Books in December of 2019. Her second book in this same series, entitled THE REDEMPTION, was released in February of 2021.
Cynthia has a Master’s in Special Education and taught children with learning disabilities for ten years before moving on to law school. She spent most of her legal career working as defense counsel to large corporations and traveled throughout the country as regional and national counsel. She also had the unique opportunity of teaching third-year law students in a clinical program at a law school in New Orleans where she ran the Homeless Law Clinic and learned, first hand, about poverty in that city. She retired after more than thirty years of practicing law. The experiences and impressions she has collected from the past forty years contribute to the stories she writes today. Cynthia has four children, and three grandchildren, and lives in Atlanta with her husband and schnauzer.
Q&A with C.L. Tolbert
What was the inspiration for this book?
In 1995 I met a fifteen-year-old boy who had been charged with the murder of a man in a housing project in New Orleans. Even though he was a juvenile, he was in the adult prison system because of a statute which required that all juveniles be tried as adults for certain crimes of violence. The DA had already mentioned the death penalty as a possibility for the juvenile, which was permissible then. I was teaching at a law school, and took the case through the law school’s clinic.
I’ll never forget the look in the young man’s eyes when I met him. I wasn’t certain if he fully comprehended the seriousness of his circumstances, but one of his knees shook up and down like a piston. He was terrified, and refused to speak of the night of the murder.
I was haunted by his case, which inspired The Redemption. In the actual case, the young man protected his brother, who was the head of a gang, and went to prison for him. I changed the story to show how the young man could have turned that same loyalty and courage around to help save himself.
What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?
Without question, the biggest challenge in my writing career has been marketing. I enjoy writing, and would love to spend all of my time engaged in the development of the next move in my plot or a particular nuance of a character. But I read recently that writers should spend fifty percent of their time writing, and the other fifty percent marketing. Self-promotion is not easy for me. Plus, my social media skills aren’t exactly stellar. My goal for the coming year is to at least remember to use hash tags on my posts, and to up my marketing time to the required fifty percent!
What do you absolutely need while writing?
I prefer silence while I’m writing. I also need a computer, my computer glasses, and about five to six hours of sleep.
Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?
I write every day, unless there is a conflict. Writing very early in the morning works best, until the day kicks in and I need to complete a few chores. Then, after my morning chores, I’ll start again, if the day permits, and write from about 1:00 to 5:00.
Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Other than Emma Thornton, my favorite character in all of the Thornton Mysteries, my favorite character in The Redemption was Juanita Bishop.
Juanita was the owner of her own business, “A Cut Above” hair salon. She devoted herself to raising her niece, Alicia, helped out other family members, including her nephew Louis, and saved her money for her own home – all with the same fierce love. She wasn’t afraid of anyone, not off duty police officers who harassed her for protection money, or thugs who threatened her family. She was tough, principled, but kind. She never failed to give everything she had to the people she loved. Plus, she looked and dressed like an Egyptian queen.
Tell us why we should read your book.
The Redemption is, as its name implies, a mystery that also offers a story of healing and hope, and a glimpse into the characters’ humanity. The story is told through the eyes of Emma Thornton, a stressed-out, working-mom attorney, whose impulsive tendencies cause trouble. But what makes the book even more unique is the element of social justice which runs through the story line. I wanted to show the reader how easy it is to manipulate a sixteen-year-old. This vulnerability is what caused Louis Bishop’s arrest and incarceration, and eventually, since, in 1996 the death penalty was constitutionally viable for juveniles, it is what made him susceptible to this country’s most extreme punishment. Emma quickly realizes that she must gain Louis’s trust to help him, which proves more difficult than tracking down the actual murderer.
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book?
I lived in New Orleans during the time period of The Redemption. I enjoyed revisiting the city in my imagination as I wrote. I had planned on flying down to New Orleans to verify street names and locations, but the pandemic shut down travel, and I wasn’t able to do in-person research. I was comfortable with all of my descriptions in the book but one. I had never walked on the wharf at the end of Felicity and Tchoupitoulas Street, and wasn’t certain how and with what materials the dock was constructed.
I decided to try Google Maps Street View to find the streets and the wharf. It was surprisingly easy. I located Felicity Street, which I virtually “walked” down, much as Emma would have. When I found Tchoupitoulas Street, I virtually followed the curve, then found the wharf along the river. I could even see the texture of the wharf, and verified that it was comprised of poured concrete.
I wrote the wharf scene after viewing the virtual wharf. To verify what I’d written, I asked my cousin, a former jack-up ship captain, to review the pages. He and his fellow captains, who are all familiar with the New Orleans docks, approved the description, and even wanted to know more about Emma and her adventures!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’d like my readers to know how much they’re appreciated. It’s so exciting that someone actually reads something I’ve written, and touches me more than I can say. I’d like to thank all of my readers, in the most heartfelt way.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
In 2010, I won the Georgia Bar Journal’s fiction contest for the short story version of OUT FROM SILENCE. I developed that story into the first full-length novel of the Thornton Mystery Series by the same name, which was published by Level Best Books in December of 2019. My second book in this same series, entitled THE REDEMPTION, which is set in New Orleans, was released in February of 2021.
I have a Master’s in Special Education and taught children with learning disabilities before moving on to law school. I spent most of my legal career working as defense counsel to large corporations and traveled throughout the country as regional and national counsel. I also had the unique opportunity of teaching third-year law students in a clinical program at a law school in New Orleans where I ran the Homeless Law Clinic. I retired from the practice of law several years ago.
I have four children, and three grandchildren, and lives in Atlanta with her husband and schnauzer.
What’s next that we can look forward to?
I’m working on Sanctuary, the third book in the Thornton Mystery Series. This book is also set in New Orleans, and begins with the death of the leader of a cult.
Catch Up With Cynthia:
Instagram – @cltolbertwrites
Twitter – @cltolbertwrites
Facebook – @cltolbertwriter
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
ENTER TO WIN:
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for C.L. Tolbert. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs from June 1, 2021 through July 4, 2021. Void where prohibited.