Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Victim by Eric Matheny - #review #giveaway

Anton Mackey is a man with everything. At least, he seems to be on the surface. He has a rising career as a private attorney, a lovely wife, a beautiful daughter; he and his family live in an idyllic neighborhood that most people dream about. Sure, there are troubles that plague this family, the same as any other, but all in all things are looking up. Life is good, and the future is better.

Except Anton has a past, too, and something has been looming, bearing down on him from that history, just waiting for the chance to strike. Soon, everything will change, and the life he’s struggled so hard to build will come crashing down around him.

And the worst part of it all: Anton Mackey has no one to blame but himself.



Chapter 1

March 16, 2003

Payson, Arizona

He thought he was dead.

Steam hissed from the crumpled front end of the RV that had folded accordion-style against the guardrail. His face stung from the punch of the airbag. His lungs burned from that awful talcum powder that drifted through the cabin as the bag deflated. The chemical dust, suspended in the air, seemed to be frozen in time.

His nose was numb and swollen. He tasted blood trickling down the back of his throat like a cocaine drip. He peered through the cracked windshield, his eyes adjusting to the reddish glow of a desert sunrise. The crushed-in hood had jarred upward. The chassis was off balance. The whole vehicle wobbled as he shifted his weight in his seat.

Oh my God.

He cranked the door handle and heaved his shoulder into it to pop it off the jamb. He hopped down onto the highway. The winds were heavy and dry, rustling the sage and scrub oaks that dotted the rugged landscape along the Beeline Highway. A sliver of fiery light barely illuminated the peaks of the Mazatal Mountains, which rose and fell against the horizon. Giant saguaros stood like sentries.

The back half of a red two-door sedan lay beneath the shredded front tires of the RV. Flattened like an aluminum can. On impact the RV must have bucked forward, rolling up onto the rear bumper of the smaller car, coming to rest on its roof. The significant weight of the RV crushed the sedan into something you might see stacked in a junkyard.

The highway was quiet. Just the rush of hot wind crackling the delicate spines of the sagebrush. He got his bearings quickly, the initial shock of the crash having passed. A sobering experience. Literally. Half a handle of Jack Daniels coursing through his veins had been replaced by something stronger.


He saw long hair, a young female’s. How he could tell her age by the back of her head, he would never know. Maybe by its length and sheen—bright, yellow-blond. Slick with blood. Her forehead propped on the steering wheel. The driver-side window blown out. The windshield was a shattered web.

The man beside her—or boy, he was arguably young—was out cold, his body positioned in the passenger’s seat in a gimpy, off-kilter fashion. The passenger side had been thrust into the guardrail, which molded itself to the frame of the car. His head lolled against the door. Blood leaked from his ear and ran down his neck.

“Are you okay?” he screamed, although he knew he would get no reply. His voice resonated throughout the valley. “Hello?”

He braced himself against the ruined front end of the RV. He felt a surge of bile and whiskey come up in the back of his throat. He heaved forward but held it in. He was lightheaded.

Oh God, please let this be a dream. Oh God, please...this can’t be happening, this can’t be happening. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening...  



When I say, "Oh my God," it is not a quote from the excerpt above.  Stuff happens when you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after drinking too much alcohol.  The RV the MC Anton was driving happened all over the sedan being driven in front of him.  He did not even see the vehicle before the 'accident'.

I am used to having empathy for the MC, but Anton is not a character with whom I could feel a connection.    This is not a criticism of the book, but a comment about Mr. Matheny's writing skill.  I got the book in the mail yesterday afternoon (maybe between 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm) and I finished it around 11:30 pm last night.  Except for cooking supper for my family (during which I held the book in one hand and a spatula in the other), eating supper (book in one hand, burrito in the other) and *ahem* personal hygiene breaks, I read.

 Life isn't all hearts and flowers.  Sometimes it's like those films they show in driver's ed classes meant to scare young people into driving in a safe manner.  Sometimes the choices we make are good, and sometimes they're not.

If Anton had stopped at drinking and driving and plowing into a vehicle, it would have been bad enough.  It would have definitely (and rightly so) affected the trajectory of his life.  Then he got the idea to destroy the evidence, so he could go on his merry way.  Gas was leaking all over the place.  He pulled a red lighter out of his pocket.  You can guess the rest.

Well, someone connected with one of the car's passengers did enough digging to find out Anton's secret and spent the next eleven years making plans to avenge the deaths of her friends.  Her whole life from that point is built around getting close to Anton and taking him down.  She waits until he is established in his career and has a wife and baby.  She wants it to hurt.  Of course, her life up to that point hasn't been all beer and skittles either.  But this is one dangerous woman.  Part of me would like to judge Daniella because if it had been about her friends, she would have turned over her evidence to the authorities.  Waiting so long made it seem more about her loss than her friends.  But, after what they had all been through in those 'wilderness rehabilitation' programs for out-of-control teens, it's dang hard to do.

About the most sympathetic character in the book was Jack, Anton's lawyer friend, who is older than him.  Everybody else is flawed.  (Ok, except the baby, but she's teething and has enough to deal with.)  Gina, Anton's wife, is suffering from post-partum psychosis, going through the motions of life but not really living.  She leaves the baby in a closed-door vehicle in the heat.  Mandy, Anton's PI and 'friend', sleeps with the enemy (literally) and helps her further her revenge.  His excuse?  He thought Daniella was 'just messing with' Anton.  The prosecutor actively sought to take cases opposite Anton because he had embarrassed her in court during a case.

So, why did I like this book, then, when everyone is so screwed up?  Because the characters are so well written!  They grow, they change, they alter their courses in the middle of the action.

This book reminds me of the movie "Se7en" directed by David Fincher.  The mood was heavy, like a weight put on someone's head.  The more the story went on, the more weights got added to the pile.  By the end of The Victim, you will be just as dazed and stunned as you were when you walked out of the movie theatre after seeing "Se7en".

The Victim is enthralling.  There is not just one victim.  There are legion.



Eric Matheny was born in Los Angeles, California, where he lived until he went away to college at Arizona State University. At ASU he was president of Theta Chi Fraternity. He graduated with a degree in political science and moved to Miami, Florida, to attend law school at St. Thomas University. During his third year of law school, he interned for the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, where he worked as a prosecutor upon graduation. In 2009, he went into private practice as a criminal defense attorney. He is a solo practitioner representing clients in Miami-Dade County, Florida, and Broward County, Florida. He has handled everything from DUI to murder.

In his free time, Eric enjoys writing crime fiction, drawing from his experience working in the legal system. He published his debut novel Home in 2004, which centers around a successful drug dealer catering to the rich in Orange County. His second novel Lockdown, published in 2005, follows a law student trying to prove that an inmate serving a life sentence in one of California’s toughest prisons might actually be innocent. Eric’s latest novel The Victim, is a tense, fast-paced, legal thriller/psychological suspense novel that centers around a young defense attorney whose horrifying misdeed from his college days comes back to haunt him. It was published by Zharmae in August 2015 and is available for sale on Amazon.

Eric lives outside of Fort Lauderdale with his wife and two young sons.

Readers can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

To learn more, go to http://www.ericmathenybooks.com/



I am authorized to offer one ecopy of The Victim to a lucky commenter.  So, after reading the excerpt, what do you think of the book (so far)?

Be sure to come back tomorrow for an interview with Eric Matheny, author of The Victim!  If you have enjoyed this review, please consider giving it a thumbs up on Amazon.  Thanks!


(Disclosure:  I received a print copy of this book from the author and publishers via Book Publicity Services (click the logo above to visit their site) in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.  )


  1. This sounds like a must read. Great review thank you.

    1. I definitely recommend it, Mary! Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  2. I have to say to that it seems like this book was certainly addicting if it kept you reading for so long and you couldn't put it down at all! I like the sound of that ^.^ I will have to say that the main character sounds like he does make some bad decisions along the way though.