Cover Image: Face of Greed

Face of Greed

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Member Reviews

A well -structured book with a solid plot and relatable characters.
I have to be honest, it didn't 'wow' me but as a police procedural thriller it does chug along nicely and mad for an excellent Sunday-on-the-sofa read.

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While I have read a couple of L'Etiole's novels, this is the first one featuring Detective Emily Hunter. I really like her feisty nature. She continues to pursue a murder investigation even when powerful city politicians want her to stop. It seems corruption might be the reason for her being shut down. I like her character because she comes across as a real person too. She has issues with the care of her mother, something many readers can relate to.

This is a good police procedural where persistence in the face of opposition pays off. There is a good deal of action and the pace is consistent and kept me reading. I hope we'll see more of Emily Hunter.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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Emily Hunter and Javier Medina are detectives and partners investigating the home invasion and murder of Roger Townsend. Amidst this, Emily has to balance her personal and work life, she has a mom who has onset of Alzheimer's who needs care 24/7. It starts with one murder and as Emily and her partner continue to investigate, they find there is more to it than initially thought.

This is my first book from the author. I liked the female lead Emily who is very spontaneous and keen on her job. I also liked the way the story was told. It was like watching a crime/cop tv series in my head the whole time i read. and when you think you are done with the climax, there is another plot keeping you on the edge. The partnership between Emily and Javier was amazing, would love to see more of it coming if the author wishes to write a sequel.

Overall, the book was a page turner. I completed it in 1.5 days.

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Face of Greed is a police procedural featuring detective Emily Hunter and her partner Javier Medina. They are called to the scene of the murder of a prominent business man. The Mayor and Chief of Police want this case wrapped up quickly, but Emily is determined to solve the case no matter where it leads.

I thought this was a really enjoyable mystery. There were a of of twists and turns. I had one of the suspects pegged from the start, but the rest of the story was a surprise. I read this in one sitting. I really liked Emily's character. She was a great detective because she was smart and took her job seriously. What I loved the most about the book was Emily's relationship with her partner Javier. Their banter was effortless and just really fun. I would definitely want to read more about this duo in future cases. I hope if there is a next book, we get to see more of Emily and Brian. That seems like it would be a cute relationship. I definitely recommend this one.

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Thank you to James L'Etoile, Oceanview Publishing, NetGalley, and Edelweiss for providing me with an ebook copy of Face of Greed for me to read and review. What an intriguing start to what I hope will prove to be a long running detective mystery series! The main character immediately spoke to me with her authentic, real-life struggles, and no-nonsense attitude. I can't wait to hopefully read more about her. The main character's detective partner was also a gem of a character with a traumatic backstory and a sassy sense of humour. The plot was full of twists and turns and puzzle pieces that didn't quite seem to fit and drew me in as a reader constantly questioning what had truly happened and who was really the "bad guy". I cannot wait to read more by L'Etoile.

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Sacramento Police Detectives Emily Hunter and Javier Medina are assigned to investigate a home invasion. Roger, the husband is murdered during the invasion. The investigation leads the detectives through political and criminal powers determined to stop the detectives. The story reads like a police procedural with plot twists, action and suspense. Strong female characters written authentically kick the story up a notch. I especially liked the balance of their home and work lives. I found the ending to be very satisfying. Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this advanced copy of Face Of Greed in exchange for my honest review.

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An excellent police procedural novel with a strong female protagonist. Emily Hunter is a confident, sarcastic, tenacious police detective with the Sacramento police department. I hope this is the start of a new series because I love the characters, the fast paced plot, and the myriad of twists along the way to the dramatic conclusion. The characters are all fully developed and the plot is propelled along at a nice clip. Highly recommended

Thanks to NetGalley and Oceanview Publishing for an advanced reader copy.

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This is the first book I’ve read by this author. I’ve had the chance to see him at book conferences recently and I love crime fiction so I was excited to dive into this book. The book opens right up with the crime scene so you jump right into it. I really hope this book is the first in a series because I found the lead detective, Emily Hunter, to be a great character and I want to read more about her. I’m really glad the author wrote this book and opened my eyes to his writings.

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Where to begin. This book was going so fast in so many directions I feel like I have whiplash. Fast read since you want to find out what is happening next. Great law and order style book (a bit more edgy though).

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4.5 ⭐️ rounded up to 5

This was a really good police procedural, and I really enjoyed reading it.  It was fast-paced and had me completely invested in the story.

Detective Emily Hunter and her partner, Javier Medina of the Sacramento Police Department, are called to a crime scene involving a prominent businessman.  He's found dead, and his wife has been injured.  At first look, it appears to be a brutal home invasion, but as they dig deeper, they find there is more to the story.  High-powered city officials want this case closed quickly and discreetly.  What is everyone trying to hide?  As Emily pursues leads, she's being dragged into gang related violence and a world of greed and corruption.  How far will Emily go to find answers?  Will she become the next victim?  Meanwhile, at home, Emily is trying to deal with her mother’s early onset Alzheimer's.  Can she find the balance between her job and her personal life?

This was my 1st book by the author, but I will definitely be reading more.  It was very well written and kept me turning pages. Not to mention the fact that one of the characters drove a Porsche 911 GT3RS (one of my very favorite cars!)  Emily Hunter was a strong female MC, and the other characters definitely made the book interesting.  The story was full of mystery and was action-packed.  It was extremely entertaining and I would highly recommend it.

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The Face of Greed by James L’Etoile is exciting on many levels. The police are smart and determined but nearly every direction their inquiries take them is blocked by a politician worried about his funding. The prime suspect taunts the detectives. Every piece of evidence points to the person they can’t touch. As the detectives uncover more crimes that link back to the same suspect they risk their jobs and lives to dig deep enough to find the truth. This is hard to read without shouting “What?” and “no way!” Enjoy.

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I did not finish this book. As an oncology nurse, I found that the description of the chemotherapy treatment for pancreatic cancer through a chest tube as described to be woefully inaccurate. The author took the time to research police procedures, but could not research the accurate treatment for pancreatic cancer?! A take home infusion through a small pump is a common treatment, but it is connected to a central venous catheter such as a port or PICC line, not through a chest tube. I understand that this is a work of fiction, but when everything else is researched to give accuracy, I do not enjoy reading this which is easy to research.

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Last week, Aubrey Nye Hamilton reviewed Face of Greed: A Detective Emily Hunter Mystery by James L’Etoile. If you have read her review, you know she liked it a lot. After setting up her review, I went looking for it at my local library with no luck. I went looking at NetGalley where I remembered it recently seeing it offered. Oceanview Publishing still had it listed and so I requested it. Thankfully, it was instantaneously available with no gatekeeper delay and I was soon hooked.

Detective Emily Hunter and Detective Javier Medina are working in Sacramento, California. In recent years she has been assigned to the Detective Bureau of the Sacramento Police Department. She is on call one evening when Lieutenant Ford, Watch Commander, calls her with an assignment. One is dead, one is injured, at what according to the initial report, is some sort of home invasion gone very wrong.

If that was not enough, both the Mayor and Chief of Police are already on scene. That means politics, powerful people, and probably pressure to get results quickly and quietly from on high. It is a cold evening this night in April and the neighborhood is clearly upscale where a murder just does not happen. But, it did this night, and Rodger Townsend is very much dead.

The deceased was fairly wealthy and had donated a considerable sum of money to Mayor Stone’s last campaign. Not only that, but Ridger Townsend was also the campaign manager. Those facts at least partially explain why the Mayor is involved. The Mayor makes it clear from the start he expects how the investigation is to be done and that includes leaving the widow, Lori Richardson, alone.

Something Detective Hunter is not willing to do as she follows the evidence and believes that Lori is involved all the way up to her beautiful face and then some. That puts her and her partner on a repeated collision course with the Mayor and her own internal police chain of command. She enjoys poking the bear with people of power and intends to do it regardless of how much it could cost her professionally or how it reflects on her partner.

At the same time, she is dealing with a serious issue at home as her elderly mother has dementia. Connie Hunter is 74 and slowly getting worse. How Emily Hunt will help her mother and whether she can or not she can is a major secondary storyline in the book.

An entertaining read, Face of Greed: A Detective Emily Hunter Mystery by James L’Etoile is a good police procedural. As Aubrey pointed out in hew review, it relies significantly on the trope of a smart good cop beset by incompetent supervisors. A hallmark of police procedurals and one that is long familiar to readers.

Despite that issue, the overall read is fast moving and highly entertaining. According to the note in the beginning of the digital ARC, there is a second one coming in the pipeline. I very much look forward to the read.

As noted in the review, my reading copy came from the publisher, OceanView Publishing, by way of a NetGalley ARC.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2023

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I have not read prior books by this author but I will look for the catalogue. I read that he used to be a corrections officer and it clearly shows in his expert writing. The plot was exciting, though a little violent (not good pre-bedtime reading). Emily and Javier are both strong characters and the author does a wonderful job of creating suspense and intrigue. I will definitely look for more of his books.

My thanks to Oceanview Publishing and Netgalley for this ARC.

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This is my first book by this author, but it won’t be my last. I really enjoyed Emily as a main character. The mystery plot was twisty enough to keep me engaged until the very end.

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This well-written police procedural introduces two detectives, Emily and Javier, who complement each other well as they investigate what at first appears to be a home invasion. But Emily has her doubts. Her instincts are spot on and despite the opposition of highers-up, she won’t let go as she digs deeper into the life of the deceased and those connected to him. Surprising twists abound as the story progresses, tensions mount, and the killer is ultimately exposed. A nicely paced, interesting read.

The author’s description of the criminal justice system and the pressures applied on the investigators by powerful politicians to influence their findings or get them to back off entirely rang true. The book also highlighted the trials and tribulations of caring for the elderly, particularly those who suffer from memory issues, dementia, or Alzheimers – an issue faced by many in our aging population.

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Face of Greed is the first novel that I have read from author James L’Etoile and it certainly won’t be my last. And according to the forward from the publisher, Face of Greed is also the first novel in a new series — the Emily Hunter Detective series.

The novel is a police procedural that follows a whodunit as well as a whydunit trope. But it not so straightforward since there are a number of different, but interconnected plots. There are at least six different tangential stories going on at the same time so it got a little confusing. However, all of the stories coalesce toward the end for a satisfying finale.

There are a number of characters, and it did get a little overwhelming at times. But the main characters of Emily Hunter and Javier Medina, the primary detectives in the novel, really kept everything together. I loved spending time with them in the field. And it was such fun to observe their banter and witness the snarkiness of Emily. I would venture to say that Detectives Hunter and Medina are my new favorite characters next to Detectives Danny Reagan and Maria Baez.

The pacing for me was just right. There’s more than enough action and suspense that kept me engaged until the end. I can’t wait to read the second novel in the series. Four solid stars.

I received a DRC from Oceanview Publishing through NetGalley and Edelweiss+. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

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Author James L’Etoile began his long tenure in corrections as a probation officer in a juvenile facility. He subsequently became a correctional counselor and was promoted to the position of associate warden of a maximum-security prison. His career culminated with a stint as the director of the Division of Adult Parole Operations with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

His duties included drafting release reports for judges. One day, after retiring, it occurred to him that he wrote crime stories throughout his career. Drawing on his experience and knowledge, he decided to pursue a new career writing fiction. Black Label, his first published novel is a stand-alone psychological thriller dealing with big pharma and featuring a female protagonist. He next launched his Detective Nathan Parker series with Dead Drop, set in the Southwest and dealing with the immigration crisis and those caught in the middle of it. Devil Within is the second installment in the series.

Face of Greed is the first offering in a new series. Inspiration for the story came from one of the first murder investigations in which L’Etoile participated. Three gang members broke into a home and forced the homeowner to open a safe before executing him. The perpetrators claimed the homeowner “was a drug dealer and was rumored to keep large quantities of product and cash in his safe” and owed them money, L’Etoile recalls. The jury rejected their proffered defense. The shooter was sentenced to death and the other two criminals received long prison sentences. L’Etoile says that case “always stuck with me” and prompted him to pen a story in which he “asks what if there was more going on in that home invasion?”

Face of Greed introduces readers to Emily Hunter. She has been a Detective with the Sacramento Police Department for five years. When asked why he opted to craft the series around another female protagonist, L’Etoile reveals that it puts him “on edge” and prevents him from making assumptions, permitting him to “get into [the story] a little more.” Crafting a believable female law enforcement professional also makes him work harder. “You can’t just put the character in a dress,” he notes. L’Etoile, whose own daughter is in law enforcement in addition to being one of his beta readers, believes that women in what is still a male-dominated profession don’t yet receive the recognition they deserve. “They still have to work harder than men to be recognized” and are often expected, like their male peers, to conceal their feelings while performing duties that frequently invoke strong emotional reactions. L’Etoile acknowledges that law enforcement is evolving and more resources are being offered to employees to help them cope with job stressors.

Emily is single and committed to her job. She is also a loving daughter, devoted to ensuring that her seventy-year-old mother, Connie, is safe and well cared for. Connie, a retired teacher, is afflicted with early onset Alzheimer’s disease and no longer able to live independently so four months ago, Emily insisted that Connie move in with her. She has enlisted a caregiver, Sheila, to watch over Connie while she works, but her schedule is anything but predictable and she often works long hours, so the logistics have thus far proven challenging. Indeed, as the book opens, she arrives at home to find that Connie has wandered off again, prompting Sheila to suggest that Emily consider relocating Connie to a secure facility where she can receive a higher level of care. But Emily has no time to debate the subject with Sheila because she is immediately called back to work by the Watch Commander. It’s a high-profile case in which the Chief of Police and Mayor are taking a personal interest and the unusual step of responding to the scene.

Emily and her partner of six months, Detective Javier Medina, arrive at a stylish home on 46th Street in the heart of one of Sacramento’s most prestigious neighborhoods, known as the “Fabulous Forties.” Roger Townsend, a fifty-year-old power player in California political circles, has been murdered in his home, “his throat slit from ear to ear.” His glamorous wife, Lori, interrupted what appears to have been a home invasion robbery and suffered minor injuries. The floor safe in Townsend’s home office is open but there is no evidence suggesting that it was forced open. Lori insists that only her husband knew the combination to the safe and he kept only a modest amount of cash and some papers in it. A small amount of light-colored powder is visible on the bottom of the now empty safe. Lori quickly retreats to the Townsend estate in Granite Bay, and the coroner’s examination soon reveals that Townsend was also shot in the back . . . and was terminally ill.

As Emily and Javier begin investigating, their efforts are thwarted by Lori’s close friendship with the Mayor. Their interview with the Managing Partner and In-House Counsel of Townsend and Associates leads to more questions about the nature of Townsend’s business dealings and holdings, as well as why a sleazy criminal attorney operating out of a J Street storefront was Townsend’s personal lawyer. They follow clues that will hopefully provide insight into the motivation for Townsend’s killing, but more crimes, including another murder, yield more suspects and complicate their efforts. The Chief is anxious to wrap up the investigation, claiming that the case has been solved and the killer taken into custody. Emily risks an insubordination charge as she seeks to avoid a confrontation with him and the Mayor because “[o]nce politics infects a case, common sense disappears.” But it becomes increasingly apparent that politics are impeding Emily and Javier’s efforts to unravel a mystery that grows increasingly complex and convoluted, involving another detective, ex-convicts who served time in Pelican Bay (one of California’s most dangerous and notorious prisons), members of the Aryan Brotherhood, and even an Assistant United States Attorney.

Emily is a compelling character. She is a competent and determined detective, savvy and respected by colleagues who are willing to aid her efforts with leads and tips. She is willing to take risks to uncover the truth, and skates dangerously close to derailing her career when she refuses to capitulate to the political machinations of her superiors and the interference of the Mayor in her investigation. Her partnership with Javier is both collegial and affectionate, characterized by often hilarious and believable bickering and teasing. It is evident that Javier, the junior member of the team, is not threatened by Emily or in any way uncomfortable being subordinate to a female detective. On the contrary, they have a great deal in common, not the least of which is their love for and appreciation of their mothers.

L’Etoile’s riveting story is both fast-paced and cleverly plotted. As the investigation proceeds, each piece of evidence uncovered seems to inspire more questions rather than provide answers, and lead Emily and Javier in unexpected directions. L’Etoile deftly keeps readers guessing about whether and in what configuration all the various threads of the mystery will eventually pull together, but Lori repeatedly emerges as the common denominator. She is demonstrably connected to and involved with a vast group of intriguing supporting characters, some of whom are quite dastardly and mercenary. Is she innocent? Or did she play a role in her husband’s demise? If so, what would motivate her to harm the man who, by all outward appearances, afforded her a lifestyle and access to power she could not have achieved on her own?

The procedural and political aspects of the story are both credible and plausible, the latter providing dramatic tension and frustrations that inspire Emily to forge ahead despite the obstacles erected by her powerful superiors and potential adverse consequences for her career. L’Etoile expertly utilizes the setting — the city of Sacramento and surrounding areas — to maximum effect. His familiarity with the region is evident as his characters visit landmarks like the famed Renaissance Tower. Housing the fictional Townsend and Associates, the downtown behemoth is known as the “Darth Vader” building because of its modernistic design that is at odds with the structures surrounding it, including California’s beloved domed Capitol. They also proceed to the William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building, another architectural oddity; the county jail; and the aforementioned “Fabulous Forties” and J Street. L’Etoile provides descriptions and wry commentary that transform the city into an integral character in the tale, illustrating its incohesive and contradictory nature for readers who are unacquainted with it. “Such was Sacramento, a city in search of an identity” with a fictional mayor intent on transforming it into a cultural center and travel destination.

Face of Greed is an absorbing, entertaining, and uniquely creative mystery, at the heart of which is the empathetic and relatable Emily. She is determined to simultaneously be the best detective, daughter, and partner she can be. Thus, she is both comfortably familiar and endearing. Readers will find themselves quickly invested in her success and moved by her relationship with her mother. She is keenly aware that their time together is limited, as Connie’s memories and cognitive abilities fade. And there is a black cat who is not hers, but keeps showing up expecting to be fed so Emily accedes to its demands. Hopefully, L’Etoile will further explore the various challenges that make Emily such a fascinating protagonist in subsequent volumes, while providing her with more mystifying cases to solve in California’s River City.

Thanks to NetGalley for an electronic Advance Readers Copy of the book and to Oceanview Publishing for a paperback Advance Readers Copy.

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Face of Greed is a great book and gives us da strong female lead, because James L’Etoile writes women that way, real, not idealized. It’s one of the reasons I admire his style..

Full Murder in Common review here: https://murderincommon.com/2023/11/05/james-letoile-face-of-greed-interview/

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James L’Etoile worked within the criminal justice system for 20 years. His crime fiction is laden with the authentic detail only someone with that kind of experience can supply. His stand-alone novel Black Label (Level Best Books, 2021) won a 2022 Silver Falchion award at Killer Nashville. Dead Drop (Level Best Books, 2022), first in the series about Maricopa County Detective Nathan Parker, was nominated for 2023 Anthony and Lefty awards. Now Oceanview Publishing is releasing L’Etoile’s first book in a series about Sacramento, California, police detective Emily Hunter and her partner Javier Medina on November 7, 2023.

Hunter and Medina are called to what appears to be a violent home invasion in which the home owner is killed and his wife beaten. Both the mayor and the chief of police were on the scene when Hunter and Medina arrived, signaling the victims had political connections. In fact, the home owner was Roger Townsend, who ran the mayor’s last election campaign. The Townsends’ social and political pull permeated and hindered the investigation considerably, yet Hunter and Medina, who make a good team, managed to uncover some questionable alliances between the Townsends and local gangs. They soon began to wonder if the ostensible home invasion wasn’t a cover for something else entirely.

This is an encouraging start to a new police procedural series. The interaction and collaborative cooperation between Hunter and Medina are among the best parts of the book. The subplot of Hunter’s search for care for her failing mother hits home for a lot of folks these days. The mingling of gangs and politicians with questionable ethics is well done.

However, I feel compelled to point out that I am really tired of the competent cop fighting inept upper management trope that is so common now. Not that useless managers don’t exist, I have had more than my fair share of them. But portraying upper management as blithering idiots is not realistic. It’s more accurate to show them as consumed with the administrative demands of their positions: the higher up the chain any employee in any organization moves, the more attuned they have to be to financial and political dynamics. I always thought Steven Havill handled the uninformed manager in the early Bill Gastner books exceptionally well. Gastner made a point of getting along with his boss, no matter how little he knew, because Gastner understood it was part of his job. Gastner also recognized the strengths his boss brought to the sheriff’s office and acknowledged them openly. It’s an approach more writers of police procedurals should consider.

Booklist gave this title a starred review.

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