Gritty, Raw, And Engaging,

August 31, 2009
By  Apex Reviews (Durham, NC USA) - See all my reviews

Tough, streetwise, and smart - with an even smarter mouth - Ryan Murphy is not a prosecutor to be trifled with; of course, if you were a peace-loving citizen in the crime-infested, drug-riddled Big Easy, you wouldn't want your law enforcement officials to be any other way. So, tasked with the duty of prosecuting a series of brutal crimes, Ryan uses her incomparable grit and wits to ensure that the incorrigible criminals behind them never again see the light of day.

There's only one problem: before she can see each case through to complete prosecution, the bad guys all end up dead. Even more confounding for Ryan: each killing is mysteriously linked to her - which is the absolute last thing she needs while striving to fast-track her own career. As the sinister events unfold - ultimately placing her own life at risk - Ryan, despite how slick and savvy she's become, must kick her game to an even higher level if she's to outwit a twisted killer who seems destined to remain one step ahead of her.

The initial installment in the Crescent City Mystery Series, Gumbo Justice is, hands down, the real thing. Herself a public defender and former New Orleans prosecutor, Holli Castillo infuses her compelling tale with such authenticity and unique energy that even those who have never visited the Big Easy will undoubtedly finish the book feeling as though they've lived there forever. Furthermore, her perfectly crafted characters and gripping storyline push the narrative along at break-neck pace, making the 200+ pages breeze by and leaving you craving for more as the story - regrettably - such, hopefully installment #2 is just around the corner...

Gritty, raw, engaging - and with an absolutely delicious closing twist - Gumbo Justice is a highly entertaining instant classic from an emerging literary star fast on the rise. Kudos to Castillo for crafting such an ingenious, unique thriller, and be on the lookout for more from this promising new talent.

Renee Washburn

Apex Reviews


A New Queen of Thrillers,

July 14, 2009
By  J. M. Orenduff "The Pot Thief" (New Mexico) - See all my reviews

"Move over James Patterson - Holli Castillo has arrived. Well, it makes sense doesn't it? Patterson was an advertising exec; Holli Castillo is a criminal appellate public defender and former prosecutor in New Orleans. Which one do you suppose has been up close and personal with the seamy side of life? Castillo's first thriller - Gumbo Justice - takes us on a wild ride into the drug scene in the Big Easy's projects where we're confronted with intertwined mysteries. Who is killing the defendants that assistant prosecutor Ryan Murphy failed to convict? And how is Murphy's mysterious family history related to the killings? The plot takes more twists and turns than the old Zephyr roller coaster at Pontchartrain Beach. The final curve will blow you away, so whatever you do, do not peek at the last page. Murphy is the best hard-boiled heroine since V. I. Warshawski, but she's smarter, tougher, and - in a piece of brilliant character development - paradoxically more vulnerable. Gumbo Justice is fast-paced and tightly woven, combining a psycho-thriller, a police procedural in a city where procedure takes a back seat to impulse, and a terrific love story - a stunning achievement."


Gumbo Justice - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

'Ryan couldn't keep her thoughts from drifting back to the homicides on the short drive home. L'Roid Smith had been killed in a way common among gangs members - beaten, shot in the head execution style and left naked. It was the ultimate humiliation, and the same way he had committed his own gang murders, including the one Ryan had tried to prosecute. And Jeremiah had been beaten, the same way he had beaten his wife on the case Ryan had handled.'

Ryan Murphy is a New Orleans Assistant District Attorney working to build a winning case history in the hopes of being promoted to the "Strike Force." But she has a problem. The die-hard criminals that she prosecutes are turning up dead in the same fashion of pain and death that they bestowed on their victims. Even though this may be getting the criminals off the streets, it's not helping Ryan with her promotion. Especially when news leaks to the media that there is a connection between Ryan and the deaths.

Gumbo Justice was a book that I actually sat up until 1:00 in the morning to finish. I had to know who was trying to ruin Ryan's career and why. This book is so well written that as I read along I actually started seeing Ryan and the other characters in action. It could easily be made into a movie and I know the perfect actress to play Ryan. Holly Hunter plays in a TV series called "Amazing Grace." In my opinion "Grace" is the perfect Ryan. She loves to party, get down right dirty but still get her job done.

I thoroughly enjoyed Gumbo Justice and recommend it to anyone who loves a good murder mystery. Holli Castillo's experience as a prosecutor and public defender in the New Orleans court system comes through with the full knowledge as to how the courts really work.




"Holli Castillo has the pulse on law enforcement beyond the headlines in pre-Katrina New Orleans. Her background as a public defender lends her debut novel authenticity and a strong voice to prosecutor Ryan Murphy. Part police procedural, part legal drama, Castillo is a welcome addition to both genres."- Sunny Frazier, author of WHERE ANGELS FEAR and others in the Christy Bristol Mystery Series.