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2012-Life Without Parole

Life Without Parole, by Clare O'Donohue ($15):

This is the second book in the series featuring Kate Conway, a freelance television producer in Chicago. Still dealing with the death of her husband, Kate is slogging through a series of assignments for a show called Budget Design when she is offered something that will provide much more of a challenge. Kate is to interview two prisoners at Dugan Correctional who have recently had their death sentences overturned and are now serving life without parole. Already committed to producing a show on the ins and outs of opening a restaurant, Kate is soon juggling both assignments with the help of her loyal crew: Andres, the cameraman, and Victor, who handles the sound. One of the things I like most about this series is the relationship between these three co-workers, who are more like family.

The prison interviews provide much of the meat of the story. "Brick" Tyler, who is in prison for killing two men and a little girl, admits his guilt, taking responsibility for his actions. Tim Campbell, who is serving time for stabbing his wife, swears that he is innocent and persuades Kate to look into his case.

Meanwhile, things at the restaurant filming are starting to turn ugly. The project is floundering and investors are fighting among themselves. When one of them turns up dead, the docudrama suddenly becomes a true crime. O'Donohue weaves the two storylines together effortlessly, so that Kate's search for the truth involving a convicted killer aids in the discovery of the murderer of the restaurant investor.

Having a main character that interests me is a must and Kate Conway does just that. She is smart, funny, independent and flawed. Even when she makes mistakes they are believable ones, things you might imagine doing yourself. I always recommend starting with the first book in a series, so be sure to read Missing Persons.