Veil of Doubt

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Pub Date Oct 10 2023 | Archive Date Sep 30 2023
Girl Friday Productions | Girl Friday Books

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When a mother is charged with murder in a town already convinced of her guilt, can defense attorney Powell Harrison find truth and justice in a legal system where innocence is not presumed? 

Emily Lloyd, a young widow in Reconstruction-era Virginia, is accused of poisoning her three-year-old daughter, Maud. It isn’t the first death in her home—her husband and three other children all died of mysterious illnesses—so when Maud succumbs to an unexplained malady, the town suspects foul play. Soon Mrs. Lloyd is charged not only with poisoning the child but also with murdering her children, her husband, and her aunt. 

Enter Powell Harrison, a soft-spoken, brilliant attorney who recently returned to his Virginia hometown to help his brother manage their late father’s practice. Approached to assist in Mrs. Lloyd’s defense, Harrison initially declines, worried that an infanticide case might tarnish their family’s reputation. But as details about the widow’s erratic behavior and her reclusive neighbors emerge, Harrison begins to suspect that an even more sinister truth might lurk beneath the family’s horrible fate and finds himself irresistibly drawn to the case.  

Based on a shocking true story, Veil of Doubt is part medical and legal procedural. Perfect for fans of Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace and filled with rich period detail gleaned from exhaustive research, Veil of Doubt delves into the darkness of the South during Reconstruction, exposing intrigue, deception, and death. 


When a mother is charged with murder in a town already convinced of her guilt, can defense attorney Powell Harrison find truth and justice in a legal system where innocence is not presumed? 


A Note From the Publisher

Please leave your review here on Netgalley and on Goodreads:

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Please leave your review here on Netgalley and on Goodreads:

...and Amazon:

Advance Praise

"Veil of Doubt tells a fascinating and carefully researched story with surprising factual details. Aficionados of forensics, legal procedurals, and psychiatric manifestations most decidedly will enjoy the bounty." 
Historical Novel Society

“Sharon Virts’s latest novel kept me turning pages, left me thinking about the characters long after the last chapter. Absolutely amazing.”
—Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, bestselling author of Her Heart for a Compass and A Most Intriguing Lady

"The fact that it's based on a true, Southern crime makes it all the more haunting."
—Amanda DuBois, Bestselling author of The Complication and Deliver Them From Evil

Veil of Doubt . . . is fascinating.”
—Eileen Joyce Donovan, award-winning author of The Campbell Sisters

For Sharon Virts, author:

“Powerful and compelling. Her characters step off the page and into your life.”
—Anthony McCarten, award-winning novelist and screenwriter known for writing biopics, including “The Theory of Everything” (2014), “Darkest Hour” (2017) and “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018)

“Sharon Virts is a natural storyteller and evocative writer with a keen eye for historical detail and drama.”
—Susan Koch, EMMY and Peabody award-winning filmmaker

"Veil of Doubt tells a fascinating and carefully researched story with surprising factual details. Aficionados of forensics, legal procedurals, and psychiatric manifestations most decidedly will...

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Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781959411253
PRICE $18.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 43 members

Featured Reviews

Another great book by Sharon Virts, I had enjoyed Masque of Honor and this had what I was expecting from the author. The story had what I was looking for and it worked well overall in a historical element going on. The characters were interesting and felt like they worked in this universe. I can;t wait to read more from the author.

""Powell turned from the window to look at JW. “You can’t tell me that you spent nearly three years in Yankee prison camps and never saw a rat.”“Well, you got me there!” JW laughed. “More vermin than you can imagine! And not all of them with four legs and tails!” He bent lower, examining the floor. “Looks like mice to me. Best way to check for rats is the yard. They tunnel in, you know.”

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3.5 stars

Please refer to the synopsis if you are a reader who likes to know what to expect before picking up a book. There is a reference to Margaret Atwood which I can't speak to so the only comment I will make is that it is pretty much 100% a legal procedural drama and not a thriller.

The novel is a period piece set in the post Civil War America. The author clearly did a lot of research and combined it with her skill and passion as a writer, as a result her novel feels authentic and true to the historical period. Reading Veil of Doubt truly felt like I was right there with the characters and a part of the plot. The historical references contained within the novel are minimal so a reader can get away without knowing anything about the American Civil War, although I have to say some basic knowledge is helpful in understanding the bigger picture.

I pretty much devoured the book but if I had to point out any shortcomings it would be the lack of suspense. The synopsis promises a thriller but in my opinion the novel lacks the suspense entirely. You can clearly see the structure of the novel with its exposition, climax and the resolution but the writing style itself lacks the palpable rising action, the suspense, and the relief at the end. The novel is very easy to get into and has pretty much zero padding so the curiosity of how it ends takes over quite easily and carries you to the end.

Also, I am the kind of reader who appreciates when authors don't feel the need to overexplain. Which is not the case in Veil of Doubt. The novel misses multiple opportunities to use certain reveals as twists in favour of pretty much giving away the answer on the spot. Save for the ending itself, if you are not familiar with the true story of Emily Lloyd

The are also a couple of very interesting moral dilemmas being brought up, as well as an issue of mental illness, and it is such a shame these are not pursued in a more elaborate and creative way.

This is only Sharon Virts second novel so I would be eager to see how her writing evolves. I will definitely seek out her other novels.

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I requested this one because it might be an upcoming title I would like to review on my Youtube Channel. However, after reading the first several chapters I have determined that this book does not suit my tastes. So I decided to DNF this one.

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I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. The character plots were organised well so that I did not get confused and overall a really enjoyable read.

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Veil of Doubt - Sharon Virts

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this eARC.

This novel tells the story of a woman, Emily, whose 3 children (as well as her spouse) all die under mysterious circumstances. After her FOURTH child, a daughter, dies, Emily is arrested and put on trial for her murder.

Imagine the pain, humiliation, and stress of being on trial for murder in a typical scenario... Now think of how that would be multiplied if the murder you were on t trial for was that of one of your children, when you have already lost so much...

A fascinating story told by a talented author, Veil of Doubt will grab your attention, and hold it, until those responsible for determining Emily:s fate have cast their votes for her guilt or her innocence and the verdict is finally in.

I'How many deaths of immediate family members have to occur before make one seems guilty, rather than merely tortorously unlucky?

Did Emily murder her child, and IF she did, then WHY did she commit these heinous crimes?

Read this book find out the answers to all of the questions!

Until next time...

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•Family Mystery
•Secrets and Truth
•Accusation of poisoning
•Crime, legal & Medical thriller
•Court Procedural

The book is so engrossing and mysterious. The prologue is heart-aching and the beginning of the book feels like a lot of things are happening. The book is filled with horror and grief. Mysterious deaths of family members and then accusation of poisoning a child was made. Could a mother kill her own child? While this story of Emily Lloyd and Powell Harrison’s defense of her are based on true events.

The case of poisoning follows the legal and medical procedurals to figure out the mystery. But it is twisted and complex. In the web of deceit, hidden truth and mystery, it seems that the characters have a mysterious demeanour. Some truths are so horrible that they fill one’s life with horror and grief turning the life upside down. The book has shared the odyssey of a young widow and a mother who lost her child. But the family history seems to be convincing enough. Though truth needs to be found.

The author has done an excellent job showing psychological, crime, legal and medical aspects.

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This was such a thrilling investigative story about a woman accused of murdering her daughter, and the legal defense’s passion to uncover the truth. I love procedural, and while the defense is actually the investigator in the story, the clues took me in a dozen different directions. Despite having multiple significant characters, the storyline is easy to follow. And just when you think you are discovering a new angle, the plot twists. I could not figure out whose side I was on!

As far as pacing goes, I never felt like the story dragged (in fact, it moves quickly) and I found myself eager to go back to reading every chance I got. Trust me when I say that this is truly a page-turner!

If the book wasn’t already good enough, I *never* would’ve guessed the ending. Wow! What a satisfying read! This will probably be a favorite of the year for me.

Thank you so much to the author Sharon Virts for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This interesting mix of a serial killing mystery and courtroom drama is set in 1870s Leesburg, VA and is based on true events. Now, serial killers are NOT my cup of tea, but the courtroom scenes and the historic observations of medicine, the legal system, and post-war Virginia really moved this compelling story along. This would probably make for a great discussion choice.

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This is a historical fiction, courtroom drama that centers around Emily Lloyd, a woman surrounded by deceased loved ones. Is she a murderer? Is she crazy? Is she innocent? Are there just a ton of coincidences, or is she a cold blooded serial killer?

This is in the same vein as The Murderess Must Die, which is another historical fiction courtroom drama. Both Murderess and Veil of Doubt are both excellent reads that will keep you entertained from start to finish.

I’m not usually a big historical fiction reader and courtroom drama is a tough genre to effectively write. However, I was totally engrossed by Sharon Virt’s Veil of Doubt. The testimony was interesting, especially that of the experts. I learned a lot about different chemical compounds and how they work, as well as learning about cross contamination of chemicals. The psych aspect of the story was also intriguing especially looking back in time over 150 years ago.

The ending was pretty cool but I read the authors note to make sure I was interpreting the ending right, and I was. It was eerie and just so well done.

I you have an interest in true crime (ok this isn’t true crime, it’s hisfic but has a lot of true crime elements), historical fiction, science, psych or legal thrillers you’ll probably enjoy this one. This would make a cool movie or mini series.

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"Veil of Doubt" by Sharon Virts is a fictional courtroom thriller based on the true crime case of Emily Lloyd. Emily Lloyd went on trial in the 1800s, accused of killing her children with arsenic. "Veil of Doubt" is expected to be released on October 10th, 2023.

This story seemed well-researched, although some of the courtroom proceedings seemed far-fetched for the nineteenth century. It did keep me guessing throughout the trial as I tried to decide whether Emily intentionally poisoned her children or not.

I enjoyed how Virts added the dark family history and how mental health had a huge effect during that period. Was it possible that Emily was suffering from mental illness due to her past traumas?

The ending's final reveal was certainly the cherry on top of the cake. However, the book would have been more thrilling to me if there were obvious small reveals throughout the story. If I were to reread the book, I would certainly pick up on these small reveals, but at first glance, they were far too easy to miss.

Read this book if you enjoy...
• historical fiction
• true crime
• family secrets
• court procedurals
• mysteries
• forensic science and chemistry

Thank you Sharon Virts for the free ARC for review considerations, and the adorable book swag. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

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This Reconstruction era legal drama is one of the first I have read set in this time and place. I hardly know anything about Reconstruction era Virginia, but that wasn't imperative to enjoy this book.

It opens with a possible murder and then focuses on the legal defence of a complex young woman who is accused of murdering her daughter, and perhaps her whole family. Her community believes she is guilty and they are ready to indict her, but her defence team courageously try to understand what has happened. Emily, the accused, is not always helpful as she has huge gaps in her memory.

I found the building of the case, both for and against Emily, very interesting. There's authenticity in the writing that makes me think this must be based on fact, but I am not sure if it is.

There is a sort of twist at the end, but you can kind of see it coming. I wouldn't rely on the surprise if you want to get the most out of this read.

Powell is a complicated character and well-written, but I found the female characters, especially Powell's wife irrelevant to the story.

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley. All opinions in this review are my own.

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Another amazing and well researched novel by this author. The story she brings to life is based on true events. After her young daughter dies Emily Lloyd is charged with poisoning her and then further charged with the surprising earlier deaths of the rest of her family. Complicating matters is the issue of the state of Emily’s mental health and what was known about mental health in the time period after the Civil War. It was interesting to be transported back in time and to see how life was then and the limited amount of knowledge they had about so many things that we take for granted now. How would Emily’s case be tried today? As I said earlier an incredible amount of research went into writing this intriguing book. Pick this up if you are a historical fiction fan.

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"Veil of Doubt" was a quick read: the plot was fast moving and even though I saw the twist coming, I still really enjoyed the book.

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'You don't want to know the truth'.

After appearing to be on the mend from a stomach ailment, three-year-old Maud Loyd suddenly takes an abrupt turn for the worse and dies. Her mother Emily Loyd is, of course, devasted and inconsolable. The authorities, however, are deeply suspicious. Maud is, in fact, Emily's fourth child to die in just a handful of years. And, before that, her husband and aunt died shortly after dining with her one evening. How can the town condemn Emily, a quiet, loving mother and regular church goer as a murderess before even contemplating her innocence? Powell Harrison, a local attorney known to take on and win indigent cases is intrigued enough to try. However, as he explores avenues of possibilities, a legal quagmire quickly develops, leading him to question just who he's representing and why, ' promised to defend her. You made no promise to defend the truth. It's not up to you to prove she is responsible for the deaths of her children or not'.

Based on a real-life crime drama that unfolded in the late 19th Century in Virginia, 'Veil of Doubt' sucks you right into the forensic and chemical analyses, as well as the resulting courtroom drama and legal tactics. With so many hypotheses investigated, people interviewed and motives unfurled, you will be kept guessing and dismissing your own theories throughout. With so much detail provided, you truly feel like a sleuth. For me, the book was a slow starter but then really picked up and sustained its pace. Although you may have inklings, finally, on what may have happened, I believe the actual ending will leave you somewhat stunned.

This book will suit historical fiction readers, fans of true crime, as well as those who enjoy learning more about legal and forensic procedures.

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Sharon Virts gives readers a fascinating and well-researched look into life in the American South during the post-Civil War reconstructionist period. The novel centers on the trial of a mother accused of killing her children. Everyone in town has an opinion of what happened, but getting to the truth proves difficult.

There are innumerable questions to be addressed to solve the case, and see that justice is given. The look into the legal as well as medical systems/practices of the time as well as the author's ability to place the reader into the room makes this a very enjoyable and educating read. I highly recommend it.

My thanks to Girl Friday Books for permitting me to read a DRC of this novel via NetGalley. All opinions expresssed in this review are my own and are freely given. Publication will occur on 10/10/23.

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Veil of Doubt is an historical, legal/medical fiction novel set in the late 1800s. Based on a true story, an insane amount of research has gone into this book. It is very detailed with medical information which was interesting. A totally different time in history, reading about the legal system and how things have changed for the better. Things that happened back then would not even be considered in todays world.

There is a huge emphasis on mental health in this book, and thankfully, much has change here too. I am thankful to be living now and not back then.

This is based on the story of Emily Lloyd, who was accused of murdering her family… her husband and 4 children. They say it was poison, they say she was insane, but was she? you will need ro read it to find out.

Thanks to Girl Friday Books for this advanced copy to read. I learnt a lot about this time period.

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