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Free of Malice

Free of Malice

5.0 1
by Liz Lazarus

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Loosely based on the personal experience of author Liz Lazarus, Free of Malice is a page-turner full of drama and suspense with unexpected twists.

Set in Atlanta, main character Laura Holland, a rising journalist, endures a night of terror when she is attacked in her home in the middle of the night. "I remember seeing the diamond


Loosely based on the personal experience of author Liz Lazarus, Free of Malice is a page-turner full of drama and suspense with unexpected twists.

Set in Atlanta, main character Laura Holland, a rising journalist, endures a night of terror when she is attacked in her home in the middle of the night. "I remember seeing the diamond of my engagement ring sparkle in the dim night as he thrashed his head. This was the only time I caught a glimpse of his dark face, with my fingers in his mouth. He did not seem human, but like a rabid beast attacking me in the night." Although she fights off the would-be rapist, his parting words are a threat to return. At the urging of her husband, Laura undergoes therapy to recover from the trauma, learning about a relatively new technique called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) used for PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) patients. But just when the reader feels a sense of where this book is headed—the story of a woman healing—the plot veers in a new direction.

Though Laura did not own a gun at the time, she wishes she could have shot her attacker as he fled. When she learns that her actions might not have been deemed self-defense, her journalistic instincts are kindled. Laura decides to write a hypothetical legal case, which plays out the events of that night had she shot and killed her assailant. She enlists the help of a young, black attorney, Thomas Bennett. Though Thomas proves to be clever in the rules of the criminal justice system, his striking resemblance to her attacker does not go unnoticed. As the two work together to develop the case, Laura's discomfort escalates, particularly when Thomas seems to know more about that night than he should. Could he possibly be her assailant or is Laura being hyper-vigilant? Reality and fiction soon merge as her real life drama begins to mirror the fiction she's trying to create.

As an added bonus, we invite you to listen to "Let Me Breathe", the song that is described in the book. The piece was written by Thomas Barnette, one of the author's best friends and the inspiration for the lawyer character. "Let Me Breathe" was co-produced by Liz Lazarus.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Utterly absorbing! Integrates state-of-the-art psychotherapy techniques with all the elements of a classic thriller."
- Stephanie Foxman, EMDR- trained psychotherapist

"After a woman is attacked in her own home, she struggles to return to her "before" life in this cathartic and empowering suspense thriller."
- Kirkus Reviews

"In a literary world too filled with formula writing and overdone approaches, Lazarus's ability to inject more than an element of surprise to keep readers guessing and on their toes is her finest achievement - and what sets Free of Malice apart from any potential competitors, making it a worthy and riveting pick for any who look for legal thrillers firmly rooted in psychological depth."
- D Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

"A psychological thriller! I loved that I could be in the mind of the victim as her reality shifts. I wondered if her paranoia was justified. I really wanted to know! The perspective of the lawyer and the psychologist was fascinating and a little bit troubling. What is going on with that husband of hers and his lady friend? I liked the twists at the end. I didn't know what I didn't know but at the end it all made sense. The clues were there. Passes the high threshold of if I was reading on the plane I wouldn't notice the crying babies. A good read."
- Pam Mooney - Goodreads

"This is Liz Lazarus' first book and it is outstanding! I need to be caught up in the first two chapters or have a difficult time reading the book. She opens with the core subject of the book and builds the characters while educating the reader on the facts of law. The ending was a surprise which I love. I would highly recommend this book for reading and look forward to much more from Liz Lazarus."
- Janis Kloeffler - Amazon

"This was a great book! It had me captivated from the very first chapter and second-guessing all the way until the end. Great plot with amazing twists and turns."
- Andy Nunemaker - Book Club

Kirkus Reviews
After a woman is attacked in her own home, she struggles to return to her "before" life in this cathartic and empowering suspense thriller. On a night her husband is away on a business trip, Laura Holland, an Atlanta-based freelance journalist, fends off a home intruder, who threatens to return. Traumatized and haunted by recurring nightmares, she reluctantly undergoes therapy and is later compelled to buy a gun and write a story about women, self-defense, and the legal system. "I'm wondering if I could have legally shot him as he fled," she tells Thomas Bennett, a defense attorney. "I would have considered it self-defense, but if the law says it wasn't, I want to understand why." As the two collaborate on a proposed magazine story, Laura's paranoia escalates. She begins to suspect that Thomas may actually be her attacker. Loosely based on the author's personal experience, Lazarus' debut novel is reminiscent of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, but it's much less twisted. The book primarily spans July through December, with each chapter covering a specific day. Laura is the primary narrator, but on a mere three occasions, chapters are devoted to the third-person perspectives of, respectively, Barbara Cole, her therapist; Chris, her husband; and Thomas. Facsimiles of Laura's therapist's session notes, a relevant business card, a Miranda rights card, and a reprint of the poem "Desiderata" add a docudrama gravitas to the story. False scares and misdirection keep readers off guard, but suspense isn't the primary draw here. The book, instead, is more interesting and educational as a hypothetical courtroom drama as Thomas meticulously lays out myriad case scenarios had Laura shot her attacker. There is plenty of fodder for discussion about gun ownership, the right to protect oneself, and the judicial system. The book also delves into the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapeutic techniques. Lazarus writes with authority in these sections that deal with the emotional and psychological wounds wrought by attempted violence against women. Not quite Gone; a thriller that works best as a legal exercise.

Product Details

Mitchell Cove Publishing LLC
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.62(d)

Meet the Author

Liz Lazarus was born in Valdosta, Georgia, and graduated from Georgia Tech with an engineering degree. She spent her career at General Electric's Healthcare division. The work allowed her the chance to travel the world, including living in Paris for three years. She later attended the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, earning an MBA in their executive master's program.
Loosely based on her personal experience and a series of 'what if' questions, Liz's debut novel, Free of Malice traces the after effects of a foiled attack; a woman healing, and grappling with the legal system to acknowledge her right to self-defense.
Liz lives in Atlanta where she is engaged to fiancé, Richard, and in addition to writing is a managing director at a strategic planning consulting firm.

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Free of Malice 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
pet1210 More than 1 year ago
Is wanting to stop an attacker the same as defending yourself? Where does self-defense end and revenge begin? How do you know whether one acted free of malice and in good faith, i.e. avoiding any more force than one had to? These are just some of the questions raised in Liz Larus's debut novel. Based on the author's real-life experience of being attacked by a stranger in her home, this Atlanta-centered story follows six months in the life of Laura and her remarkable approach to deal with the attack. Initially reluctant to do so, Laura undergoes psychotherapy to overcome PTSD with a therapist who uses the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing technique (EMDR) which helps people to ease the unsolicited recollections of traumatic events. I found this was really interesting to read about. With the aid of Thomas, a defense attorney, Laura also starts to write a hypothetical legal case on the basis of what would have happened if she had actually shot her attacker. Laura's first-person narration allows you to enter her mind and go through all the varying emotions with her. This was so well-written and cleverly constructed, it never felt like a debut novel. I actually thought I knew where this was going and who was behind the attack, but it turned out I was utterly clueless. Not only was Free of Malice exceptionally entertaining, it was also incredibly informative. I learned a lot about the criminal defense system and about gun ownership. I found the part about jury selection particularly fascinating. If that wasn't enough, this also raised some powerful questions about race. Definitely an author to watch out for in the future! Great blend of suspenseful, mysterious psychological thriller and educational legal thriller. Highly recommended! I received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.