Cover of All Eyes on Her by L.E. Flynn. An extreme closeup of the face of a blue-eyed white girl

About the Book

Title: All Eyes on Her
Published: 2020

Cover Story: Snore
Drinking Buddy: Character Bloat
MPAA Rating: R: Language, Sexuality, Violence, Alcohol and Drug Use
Talky Talk: Lack of Research
Bonus Factors: High Profile Trial, Unreliable Narrator
Bromance Status: Juror #3

Cover Story: Snore

Yeah, that’s minimum effort. Yes, the press called Tabby ‘The Blue-Eyed Boyfriend Killer.’ Yes, this girl has blue eyes. Yay, stock photos.

The Deal:

Tabby Cousins, 17, and her boyfriend, Mark Forrester, 20, went on a hike in the wilderness. Somehow, Mark ended up falling off a cliff into the river below. The fall did not kill him; it was the backpack full of rocks that caused him to drown. All fingers point to Tabitha, who the press dubs The Blue-Eyed Boyfriend Killer. Soon, this is the crime of the decade, with America calling for the head of the jealous, unstable girl who murdered a promising swim star out of spite. Or did she? Others see her as a victim of an abusive boyfriend who killed him in self defense. Or perhaps there’s another killer no one even suspects. Just what happened that day?

Drinking Buddy: Character Bloat

Two pints of beer cheersing

So who’s hiding a secret? Ellie, Tabby’s best friend who may have grown tired of playing sidekick? Bridget, Tabby’s sister who’s always been living in her shadow? Breck, Tabby’s ex who might have wanted her back? Keegan, Mark’s best friend, who may have had his eye on his best friend’s girl? Lou, Beck’s on-again, off-again, who’s intensely jealous of Tabby? We get all these POV characters, plus about ten others and various newspaper clippings and Tabby’s old texts. The wide variety of suspects was nice, but there were just a few too many first-person characters to make for a non-confusing read. Also, every single one of them was a back-stabbing, self-centered climber, so it was hard to find anyone to root for.

MPAA Rating: R: Language, Sexuality, Violence, Alcohol and Drug Use

This onion has layers. Half of America sees Tabby as a cold-blooded killer who lured the man who loved her to his death. Others see her as an innocent victim, condemned by circumstantial evidence. The press plays up both angles, with social media alive with theories. And with each new clue, the mystery deepens. Is that a photo of Tabby, entering an abortion clinic? Was she really spotted filling a picnic basket with rocks on the day  of the accident? Was Mark cheating on Tabby? Was Tabby cheating on Mark? We never get a chapter from Tabby’s (or Mark’s) point of view, just from other other characters who all have an angle to exploit.

Talky Talk: Lack of Research

This was a compelling whodunit, somewhat ruined for me by an utter an absolute lack of legal research on the author’s part. There were so many ridiculous happenings in this case that a first-year law student would tear this book apart. Most notably:

*In a criminal case, the victim’s family does NOT get to hire the prosecutor. And yet, Mark’s family hires a big name lawyer to convict Tabby, and the papers refer to him as ‘Mark Forrester’s Attorney.’

*The police are not going to be finding any footprints a freaking month after a crime, especially in the wilderness.

*You are not allowed to use a cell phone to Tweet during a trial, even if you’re a spectator.

*The coroner cannot give you a corpse’s time of death to the exact minute.

*Teenagers and anonymous sources are coming to the police with ‘clues’ they ‘found,’ which are immediately introduced as evidence without question.

*The press somehow knows everything about the police investigation, the moment they discover something. Not through research, but because law enforcement is sharing all this.

Seriously., I’m a layman and I caught these errors. You didn’t have anyone look this over first?

Bonus Factor: High Profile Trial

The courtroom scene from Legally Blonde

Lizzie Borden. O.J. Simpsons. Casey Anthony. High profile murder cases, with a lot of press coverage. People making up their minds before the trial even started. This book contains a lot of newspaper articles and blog posts about the trial (though the papers editorialize a lot more than they would in real life). So has Tabby already been convicted in the court of public opinion? Or has she been exonerated?

Bonus Factor: Unreliable Narrator

A line up of the cast of The Usual Suspects

With ten plus point of view characters, you know that almost none of them are telling the truth. So what really happened that day on the cliff? How did Mark fall? Who knows what actually went down? Who’s hiding something?

Bromance Status: Juror #3

It was nice experiencing this trial together, but I don’t see myself wanting to get together again.

Literary Matchmaking

Catch-22

For a hilarious example of a kangaroo court, read the ‘Clevinger’s Trial’ chapter of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.

The Lovely and the Lost

The Lovely and the Lost, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, deals with another crime in the wilderness.

Three Things I Know are True

Betty Culley’s Three Things I Know Are True deals with another crime that various people see in various ways.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but no money or exclusive interview rights.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.