Empty Shell: Ashley Fontainne
How do you define yourself as a person? Do you rise every morning feeling invigorated and ready for whatever the day brings? Do you wake up depressed and want to remain in bed? Some people develop their own private cocoon and hide within the confines of this small empty space and live their lives with what if’s, what should have’s and feeling empty.
Take the outer shell of an egg that is not hard-boiled and hold it gently in your hands so the shell does not crack. Imagine how fragile and delicate this object is and what would happen if it should fall to the floor. Sometimes we feel so overwhelmed, so distraught and destitute that we as a person with a stronger outer covering become as fragile as the white egg shell and have to be careful not to crack.
Melody Dickerson is a 43-year-old paralegal that is relied on by her boss at work. She is smart, capable and seems to be able to handle just about anything. But, don’t be fooled. Harboring within Melody is anger, despair, unhappiness and a fragility that only she can see. Hiding her true feelings about not being able to conceive a child, she pushes away her husband, declines his affection but should not have been surprised when he found himself in another woman’s bed. Melody Dickerson is about to find out a hidden truth and be confronted with a harsh reality when getting ready for a routine day of work. Entering her garage and preparing for the day little did she expect that he dog Simba would have something in his mouth that would set off a chain of events that would be more than just tragic, catastrophic. Asking Jack, her husband about the object and the cell phone that definitely was not hers or the one she called him on, words fly, tempers flare and Melody states her peace. But, something happens when she finally arrives at work, gets called into her boss’s office and blurts out that she wants Serena fired and explains why? Before the final words are uttered and the end result in her favor, Roger, her boss relates that Serena Rowland is dead. But, how, why and who? Remains for a while to be seen but not for long.
Phillip Rowland is one of her company’s best and most powerful clients. Phillip Rowland is unscrupulous, dangerous and deadly when he wants someone eliminated or something done. When Melody learns that her husband was arrested for Serena’s murder, sees the evidence his lawyer has, she immediately jumps to the conclusion that he is guilty and when facing him and confronting the issue dead on, she expresses not only her anger but her lack of faith that he might not be guilty.
But, someone does not want a trial and someone wants the matter taken care of and enlists the aid of a man named Bill, a jail guard that has no idea lost his career in sports because of this same man. Without asking questions this jail guard, takes Jack to get his infected and injured eye taken care of, pretends to befriend him and hands him a cookie that would end it all. Medical examiner, coroner and no one realized that something was placed on the cookie that killed him. Assuming it was the penicillin and not realizing the truth. But, at the same time Jack was being murdered, Melody rethought what she saw on the hotel video and realized that Jack was not guilty. Promising to stand by him imagine her desperation and her anger when she learns he is dead.
Recriminations are too late. Rehashing conversations with the police and his lawyer no longer needed as she is now charged, fueled and energized to take matters into her own hands along with her mother, best friends Regina and Kendall and her boss Roger. Melody is going to clear his name so that he can rest in peace.
The author relates what sent her over the edge, what caused her to distance herself from her husband and why she felt her life was meaningless and empty. Going through the motions and rejecting those that can help only made it worse. Why push aside those that care? Will she ever fill her empty shell with love, understanding and purpose? Empty Shell: Ashley Fontainne a story and plot that will make you reassess your own life.
Anger, recriminations, regrets, doubts and guilt trigger Melody’s innermost thoughts and mind as she and Regina speak about their pasts and rehash the painful memories. As one recounts her drug addiction the other reveals her deceptions and the truths that she kept hidden from Jack and justified within her own mind for keeping them secret. Listening to Kendall tell about his childhood, the abuse he took at his father’s hand and the verbal assaults he could not combat allows readers to know that there are many whose lives created empty voids and if you could cut out the inside of a tree and leave only the bare bark or outer shell it would take much more than what was inside the tree to fill the void within each person’s heart and mind. As Kendall explains why he and Jack bonded and were such great friends and the warmth he received from Jack’s parents that was equal to the coldness he received from his, you begin to understand even more closely why Melody’s journey hopefully to rekindle a spark within her was so important to him. But, would he succeed as the author relates information about someone close to Jack and Kendall who might be involved with what happened in the present. But, tragedy strikes again and life throws her another sinker as she and Regina are going to her mother’s for dinner and find that she too will join Jack.
Melody finally comes out of her stupor and with the help of Kendall and Regina decides to get Justice for Jack as someone started a blog that snowballed. People from all over the country and world rallied together on her behalf, sending words of kindness, voicing their thoughts, money and support to help guide her back and hopefully learn the truth about what really happened to Jack. So, when she reassessed the evidence, brought what she learned to her boss Roger and Jack’s lawyer, they agree that she should pursue her goal and find the real killer. What happens will surprise readers as Detective Craig Knowles; the arresting officer confesses some harsh truths and realities about Jack’s case and places his career on the line to learn the truth. But, Melody listens, hears and then explodes when she learns that the discrepancies she saw within the video tape of the night of Serena’s murder could have saved his life is the Detective had not been so hasty and she had supported and believed in Jack’s innocence.
When Melody confesses the truth behind a hospital stay to Kendall, her frustration with not being able to conceive and the lies she told when she hid the truth about having twins, nothing in her soul or her heart would ever let her overcome that. The author also refers to her faith in God and that she needed to rely on the Church and believe in her faith more for strength and guidance, which is a new touch, added in this novel.
Serena Roland was beautiful, smart and enticed many men. The daughter of a powerful and rich father who would do anything to prevent the truth from coming out as we learn more about the role of the Medical Examiner, hear his thoughts and realize that there is much more to these murders than meets the eye.
Deceits, lies, documents and evidence tampered with, blackmail, threats to ruin careers and unrequited love are just some of the issues that are brought to light in this novel. What we want to believe in another person and the trust and respect we give them can cloud our judgment when we don’t want to believe they would hurt us. Changed reports, Jack’s death not due to an allergic reaction to an antibiotic, the father of Serena in constant touch with those in power, just how will this all play out and who really killed Serena and why Jack you just won’t believe.
Craig Knowles might have botched his case but he is a man of honor and wanted to vindicate himself to Melody. When he shares the harsh truth about what he realizes happened at The Duchess that night, just who might have entered and pretended to be Jack, the anger that wells up within her and the explosion is more deadly than a nuclear fall out.
But, a kind neighbor refuses to give up. Mrs. Preston believes in the truth and many others rally to Melody’s aid but her anger, despair and unwillingness to cope with reality hampers her in more ways than one. But, a phone call would change it all and her life would be in danger as the author creates an ending that you won’t see coming, an end result that will make you wonder who lives, who dies and whose empty shell will be filled with finding meaning in everyday life, turning towards learning something new, taking back your life and being in charge and finding meaning in what you do each day. Friendships are tested, families are broken and Melody needs to relearn the true meaning of love, friendship, looking within herself to understand her strengths and weaknesses and decide where her future will bring her.
Can Melody forgive herself for her past, her lies and deceits and find it in her heart to forgive others or will she remain alone, empty and hollow? Empty Shell: Will Melody fill hers with love and joy or will she cast it aside?
I have read and reviewed all of this author’s novels. This one is true to life, could really happen and teaches us how to forgive, understand what we need to do to recover from a terrible loss, the importance of talking to someone and finding our faith.
Let’s Give this book: FIVE GOLDEN SHELLS
Fran Lewis: Reviewer