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How Everything Turns Away

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Member Reviews

Ezra James is a former FBI agent, busted down to probation after a psychotic episode where he threatened his partner with his service weapon and vilified in the press for allegedly fabricating evidence to frame a man for a series of random murders.

His new job is head of security at the private school, St Joseph and Mary Catholic High School in Chicago. Then, the night of the school Christmas Pageant, the young and beautiful student art teacher is found almost dead in the snow below the school's bell tower. Was it attempted suicide? Or was it murder? At the fateful time all the electrics tripped and so no-one can tell if she jumped or she was pushed.

Lucia Vargas has just made police detective and this is her first case, her older partner Gorecki is a bit of a dinosaur so she is the one doing all the legwork on this case. When some of Ezra's throw-away comments about the student teacher Brooklyn Hannigan's body and the small blister on the back of her neck are repeated by the medical examiner she begins to take him seriously as a fellow professional. Then the school administrator informs her that the parents will not allow the police to question their children, the school would face multiple lawsuits, but the school byelaws do allow them to be questioned by the head of security - step up Ezra - and Lucia can 'observe'.

Soon there are multiple suspects. Who did Brooklyn have lunch with on the day she died? Who was her mysterious lover, was he married, or one of the students? Was he the father of her unborn baby? What caused the blister on her neck?

This was a fun read and it kept me guessing to the end. Ezra was a bit too superman for my liking, reminded me of the knight in one of the Monty Python sketches who has all his arms and legs cut off and still wants to fight people, and there was a lot of backstory which wasn't needed, although I assume it is the overarching thread of the series - who really was the Coast-to-Coast killer.

Anyway, I would definitely read the second book.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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Former FBI agent fights for redemption
Ezra James, former star FBI agent who made a life changing mistake and was accused of egregious behavior, is performing a major penance as the security director for a posh coed Catholic high school. When a student teacher's barely alive body is found crumpled in the snow beneath the campus bell tower it gives him an opportunity for redemption. He wants to help the local police determine if the attempt was murder or suicide. James has to sort out a bucket of red herrings both in clues and suspects. He hopes if he helps the attractive, newly minted Detective Lucia Vargas find the answers He may be able to return to the FBI and get off his mental health meds. The supporting cast of characters from the chess playing priest with a questionable past to the heart throb French teacher with a secret to his opiates mother to Vargas' curmudgeon of a partner to delusional teacher and hot moms keep Ezra James hopping. This detailed mysteries is jam packed with bodies, motives, hope for redemption, secrets old and new, false identities, ex-spouses, kidnapping, and missed meds. Whatever adventure Ezra James takes up next--I want to go along--and I hope his friends from this book do too. Great read. Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for an honest review.
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This author’s debut novel was a fun, fast, and intriguing read. From the title, it’s clear it’s the first of many books we can look forward to reading featuring the flawed but noble Ezra James.  Demoted (for now) from FBI Special Agent to head of security at an exclusive high school because of some past mistakes, he works with newly minted detective Lucia Vargas to solve who attacked a student-teacher. The more closely they investigate together, the more entangled their personal lives become. The sparks rise, as does the body count in this intriguing thrill-ride of a mystery.  

Written with a full cast of characters, from heels to heroes, the author deals with the element of mental illness authentically and honestly, giving readers a rare perspective from inside the head of someone who appears “normal” but has to embrace his brain chemistry is off.   

Can’t wait to see what’s in store next for Ezra!
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I found Steven J. Kolbe’s How Everything Turns Away is a police procedural, but not the same old-same old kind. Ezra James, temporarily suspended FBI agent working as head of security in a Catholic school, is believable and very human. Lucia Vargas, the detective working on an attempted murder during the school’s Christmas program, is delightfully quirky. The crime is baffling and suspects abound.  If this is a series (and I very much hope it is), I’m praying Fr. Remy is an ongoing character.   
I received an ARC for my unbiased review.
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How Everything Turns Away by Steven J. Kolbe is a great mystery set in a school with the kind of characters one would expect to find there. Intelligent and humorous, this book is a treat if you enjoy clever mysteries. Highly recommended! Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.
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For an intriguing insider’s view of a posh private school, where everyone—including the enigmatic school chaplain with as many secrets as the confessional booth—has an agenda. Combine this with a wounded hero who refuses to let life’s vagaries keep him down, and the reader has him/herself with a honey of a fast-paced mystery. 
How Everything Turns Away is a story for that reader who appreciates dry humor, busybody PTA members, and smart-mouthed teenagers. Clearly this author is well acquainted with the ins and outs of an educational system as well as the rigors of foreign missionary work. Well done!!
On a scale of 1-5, How Everything Turns Away deserves a 7. 

Kat Henry Doran, Two Wild Women Reviews
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