Taken for Granted: Leslyn Amthor Spinelli
Will the real Kate Daniels please stand up? There was a program many years ago called To Tell the Truth. Three people would pretend to be the same person and a panel of stars would question them hoping to reveal the identity of the person in question. Kate Daniels, medical researcher on the outside but just who and what is she on the inside? When facing her public she presents one persona but if a doctor took an MRI of her brain what would be revealed within the inner core of her mind that would trigger off red flags or alerts to the world that this woman is far from what she seems.
Caroline Spencer might be a great litigator when prosecuting someone or defending a client in her new position as a lawyer in a prestigious law firm. The skills that she employs, her mode of questioning might be quite exemplary but in judging others and realizing their true motives for wanting her friendship she is naïve.
A chameleon presents different images each time you see them and camouflages that they are really in order to fool those they meet. An urgent phone call in the middle of the night sends Caroline Spencer to the local jail to help a friend. But, when faced with the realties presented to her by the arresting officers, the Assistant DA and others involved what she uncovers will more than rock her own world, change the dynamics of her marriage and could tumble more than just a simple house of cards with the flick of a finger.
Beholden to her friend in her own mind because of the way she reminds her of the one gift that she gave her that enriched her life, Caroline feels that she has to go all out to defend Kate when the evidence proves that she is not the medical researcher she thinks she is but a drug dealer, drug user and even worse a contributor to the death of a young woman. Getting to the police station she learns that Kate was seen giving CPR to a young girl that later wound up dead. Not calling 911 but instead attempted to give her chest compressions was the wrong move. When confronted by the young girl’s roommate who called 911 the incident is described in many different ways and the cover-up she is accused of would have changed anyone’s perspective of this conniving manipulator.
When you hear the evidence stacked against her and learn about all of the charges you might wonder just how far Caroline will go to repay what she thinks is a debt to this coldhearted person. Not allowing her out on bail should have been the first real indication that she cannot be trusted as the court viewed her as a flight risk. Added in she was tested for drugs in jail with the results positive for cocaine. A dead graduate student, drugs, several arrests for drunk driving, not appearing in court and many other charges, why would Caroline risk her own marriage and her life for her? When you meet her parents and see just how far apart they really are from any close relationship with Kate, you wonder why they bothered to help her at all. But, secrets are revealed and lies come out before all is said and done. Just who is Kate really and when choices are made and decisions are presented why doesn’t Caroline realize that she is being used Kate for her own purposes? A drug dealer that provides her with her cocaine and she will not testify against him? Someone within the University where she worked that might be connected?
Within this plot we learn more about Caroline, her adoption of Lily and the connection to Kate. We also learn that she and her husband, David, want to adopt another child and the process that it entails. The frustrations, the indignities and the procedures are described as you hear Caroline’s innermost thoughts, experience her panic attacks, her nightmares and wonder when she is going to face her own demons and deal with them and put Kate’s aside.
The pages of a book present the thoughts of an author the images of a character that are supposed to be crystal clear helping the reader understand the storyline and of course the characters. But, sometimes the images are clouded, unclear and the character does her best to hide her true identity, her real inner personality and hopes that she can strong arm another person into doing her bidding, believing what she thinks is the truth but in reality she might be delusional.
Caroline Spencer is presents woman whose character is strong in many respects but when faced with controversy, adversity she looks to blame others for her own shortsightedness. As you hear the discussions between her and David and you listen to phone calls and the hang ups you realize that Caroline needs to face the fact that everyone she hears and sees is a product of what this chameleon, her so called friend wants her to see and believe.
Kate’s appearances in court are orchestrated by her as well as her appearance to gain the sympathy of not only the court but also Caroline. When deciding to take the case and speaking with her trusted secretary, Caroline hears the words of warning but does not process them. Guilt, gratitude, fear of losing the case and for the sake of a person that she thinks is her friend, she is about to risk it all. Taken For Granted: that’s exactly what everyone is doing to Caroline: Taking her for granted and assuming she will do as they say because they expect her to and she owes them. As the case unfolds and the evidence is presented you see another side of Kate that she hoped would remain hidden. Cocaine abuse, embezzlement, misappropriation of funds, fake documents to escape the country before sentencing and the hope of getting a reduced sentence for ratting out her connection, Kate Daniels has a way of creating a image of herself to fit each situation and creating a veil of lies and deceit hoping no one would see through it. Wanting to get it over, she allows herself to be questioned by the person from the probation office. Smart, astute and not fooled for a minute, the austere, Helen Garrety, presents her findings to the judge, which takes the case in a whole different direction. As Kate explodes, blames Caroline for the extended sentence Garrety recommends, a lifelong friendship come to an end, a young child learns a harsh truth yet why does Caroline constantly feel guilty and beholden to this sociopathic woman? The end result will surprise readers as the final fate of so many will change because of one woman who in her own mind could not take blame for her actions, used everyone for her own purposes, managed to convince too many she wanted and had changed and had Taken For Granted she would win! A hidden secret revealed to her therapist as we learn more about Caroline, why she feels beholden to Kate and another harsh reality in her life that created her lack of self-esteem, her inability to handle certain situations and another thing contributing to her panic attacks. Kate’s a manipulator and although she is good at what she does Caroline falls prey to her unfeeling, her controlling ways and her wants.
Sentence passed and Kate once again lashes out at Caroline, gets someone to create an appeal and the final result quite unexpected as author Leslyn Amthor Spinelli paints a vivid picture of a drug user in total denial of her addiction, her flaws and her guilt bent on blaming her plight on her parents, her childhood and Caroline’s poor defense. Justice sometimes plays out its own hand and although some receive what they deserve others manage to skirt out it and never pay for their crimes.
Just what Kate’s fate will be you will have to learn for yourself. What happens when she is supposed to surrender and will she testify against those who provided her with the coke? What happens when you are a snitch? What about the adoption? Taken for Granted: Never count on what you think will happen! The justice system and a judge’s ruling are never to be taken lightly and certainly never taken for granted. One fast moving novel which allows readers to know just how far someone will go to prove her loyalty to a friend and how far a friend will go to create an illusion that no one sees until it’s too late. When Caroline learns the truth about Kate what she does will change the dynamics of her role as her lawyer, her perception a little less clouded and a powerful and electrified ending you won’t expect.
Fran Lewis: reviewer