Book Review: Wrongful Death by L.J. Sellers

Wrongful DeathWrongful Death
A Detective Jackson Mystery #10
L.J. Sellers
Thomas & Mercer, February 2015
ISBN: 978-1477822180
Trade Paperback

This is how it’s done. A murder of a cop occurs near a homeless/vagrant camp. It is winter in Eugene, Oregon, and the cop is on a mission of mercy to hand out warm clothes and blankets. In the next fifteen pages we meet the principal players, understand the scene and a few oddities, and begin to see the complicated lives of several of the principals. The pace is already just short of relentless. And a teenaged girl is attacked in a texted video.

It is clear you are in the hands of an experienced, talented writer with a real sense of how to use foreshadowing, properly set the stage, and embed in readers’ minds important characteristics through judicious use of language in dialogue, and in the underlying narrative.

When a policeman is discovered murdered near a homeless camp, officers react with a wide spectrum of expected responses from rage at the homeless, guilty or innocent, and sincere attempts to discover the killer. Meanwhile a detective related to the dead man would rather be on that unit, but he’s assigned to track someone who is preying on young girls, sexually assaulting them on video and blackmailing the girl’s parents.

Each of the principals in the novel also has personal and relationship circumstances that provide stress and happiness at various times. It all makes for a rich stew with many ingredients that have to be carefully balanced. Sellers skillfully guides the reader through the sometimes gritty and often difficult times experienced by her characters. When the results of careful deductive reasoning and persistent investigation finally begin to resolve into profiles the detectives can grasp and move to conclusion, there are a few times when things seem just a bit rushed.

The novel is extremely well written, has a fine sense of its special location and the characters are all well-defined. This is a mystery detective novel that should satisfy every reader.


Reviewed by Carl Brookins, August 2015.
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.