Thursday, June 1, 2023

Review East of Evil Interview with author Joni M Fisher

Today I'm featuring a fantastic thriller by Joni M Fisher, it's #4 in a loosely connected series but stands really well on it's own.

ISBN-13: 978-0997257588
Publisher: Joni M Fisher
Release Date: 05-01-2023
Length: 354pp
Source: Publicist/ Author for review
Buy It: Amazon/ B&N/ IndieBound



A colossal fortune. A secret reaper. A young woman whose drive for justice makes her the target of dangerous people…

Nefi Jenkins dreams of becoming an FBI agent. After outing her parents’ heartless killer, the Harvard grad focuses on getting into a stellar criminal justice master’s degree program. But her career goals take a back seat when she inherits a ten-million-dollar trust from her late parents…with a hefty chunk gone.

Seeking the help of a forensic accountant, Nefi discovers a cunning thief has been stealing from her inheritance. And with her legacy at stake, the hidden enemy’s scheme to swipe her cash could turn deadly.

Can Nefi restore her parent’s last gift before her investigation turns fatal?

East of Evil is the fourth book in the page-turning Compass Crimes suspense series. If you like strong heroines, greed-driven crimes, and jaw-dropping twists, then you’ll love Joni M Fisher’s hunt for the truth.

My Conversation with Joni:

Joni Hi! Welcome to The Reading Frenzy.
I absolutely loved East of Evil the storyline and the characters.
Can you tell my readers a bit about it please?

Thank you, Deb! I never get tired of hearing how much readers enjoy one of my stories. The idea for East of Evil came from the common, mistaken belief that money is the answer to all problems. I wanted to show that wealth comes with its own set of problems. People who suddenly inherit or win great sums of money usually end up poorer than they were before the money came into their lives. Sure, money can solve some money problems, but having money doesn’t make a person a good money manager.

East of Evil explores the different ways people value and handle money. For some, there is never enough.

What a fantastic character Nefi is and learning about her past made me want to root for her even more.
What kind of character was Nefi to create, did she behave or was she always taking the lead?

Nefi starts the series in the prequel, North of the Killing Hand. She stars in North of the Killing Hand and East of Evil. In the other two books, she plays a minor role. The series arc is hers as she grows from a 14-year-old raised in the Amazon rainforest to a 21-year-old in New York City. I wanted her to be true to herself and not someone who wanted to be part of the herd, so she had to grow up outside the influence of American culture and social media.

The misbehaving character was Blake Clayton, the buddy character to Nefi’s love interest, Vincent. Blake’s voice came to me so naturally that he took over more scenes than Vincent had in the first drafts of North of the Killing Hand. I had to rewrite many scenes to frame them from Vincent’s point of view. I knew Blake needed to be prominent in another story—that turned into South of Justice. One particular exchange in the North book sparked Blake’s backstory. In it, Nefi confesses she wanted to kill the man who murdered her parents. Blake’s reply, “That would have put him out of his misery, but it wouldn’t end yours.”

That’s when I realized Blake’s easygoing, life-of-the-party persona covers a past tragedy.

So when you were writing book 1 in the series South of Justice did you know there would be a book 2,3 &4 also.

I had a broad plan for the series as an ensemble effort, with main characters interacting or appearing as needed in each story. Each story features a woman whose life is turned upside down by a crime. How each woman fights to get justice is different, but none of them wait around for a knight on horseback to save the day. One story evolved and overlapped with the next. One of the later scenes in North of the Killing Hand is repeated from a different point of view in South of Justice and has a completely different feel to it. Readers have told me they loved that and reread the scenes to enjoy the overlapping action.

The overlapping scene idea didn’t work for West of Famous. The closest thing to an overlapping scene is when Martina is remembering happier times during her captivity.

The third book, West of Famous, is more about family and friendship than a crime story with a romantic subplot. The idea for that book came from a friend who took a job as a body double for a famous actor. Our friend, Dr. Gregg Dickerson, would reschedule his whole clinic and surgery schedule to go fill in during the tv series. I’m sure he lost money doing that stand-in gig, but he said it was great fun. So in West of Famous, a college student takes a job as a body double and gets kidnapped. She is Nefi’s best friend.

The final book is Nefi’s. She is the reader’s favorite character. And mine. In a series, the reader gets to understand the characters enough to notice their growth. I like Nefi as a role model for girls and women because she is self-aware, humble, and courageous. She embraces her uniqueness instead of trying to be accepted by everyone.

I unfortunately didn’t read the first three novels (which I am going to correct soon)
In what book do we meet Nefi?

Nefi dominates the prequel, North of the Killing Hand. It was the first book written in the series, but the second one published. I did not want readers to see the series as a young adult series, because North starts with a 14-year-old girl. That book may be a coming-of-age tale, but in South, the main character is thirty-five years old. The series is crime fiction with strong women in the leading roles. The lead characters struggle with faith in the aftermath of a crime, so the stories get labeled religious fiction. I consider the faith element part of a character’s identity and personality, not the theme.

Do the books need to be read in order?

For readers who prefer to read a series in story chronology: North, South, West, East. To a large extent, I wrote them to stand alone with threads of connection to the other stories. Sadly, the books were published between 2016 and 2023, which makes it more challenging for readers to remember the connections. New readers will have an easier time recognizing the connections and call backs.

How are the books connected?

The stories are connected by the bonds of friendship and family formed from story to story. Nefi is the common denominator, but not the leader of the ensemble.

Might you pick up the series again in the future or are these cases closed?

For now, Nefi and her friends rest in the four books. The next series is about art crimes, thanks to help from a friend who is an expert with decades of experience working with law enforcement.

Joni Thanks for answering my questions.
Are there any upcoming author events or signings either in person or virtual where fans could catch up with you?

So far this year, I’ve been the first author invited to speak at two book clubs, did a book signing at the Winter Haven, Florida library, and traveled to Norway, the Bahamas, New York City, and North Carolina.

In August, I’m going to my first American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. The ACRW Conference will be in St. Louis, Missouri, August 23-28.  The ACFW also hosts StoryFest from August 24-26 for readers and librarians to meet authors and score lots of SWAG! The ACFW also hosts an At-Home Conference, which is streamed to writers around the world. I’m teaching a workshop on Writing Memorable Dialog as part of the At-Home Conference.

In October, I’ll be teaching a workshop on Writing for Magazines and Paid Blogs, at the Florida Writers Association Conference.

As an instrument-rated private pilot, I fly as a hobby and report for General Aviation News. A few fans have tracked me down at fly-ins, waving a book to be signed. The rest of the time, I’m shooting targets, diving into research for the next book, and pounding out a first draft. I enjoy meeting anyone who loves to read.

My Review:

East of Evil
Joni M Fisher

The finale in the Compass Crime series, East of Evil is an absolutely unputdownable. Set in the near past it’s a darkly plotted, fast paced engaging whodunit, ripe with death, danger, suspense and family drama that would make a fantastic movie. The star of the show, Nefi is an eclectic character, charismatic, down to earth, loyal and compassionate about her friends, loved ones and her future, she may seem a bit naïve, but don’t let her mild manner fool you she’s got moxie by the bucket full. The storyline is a good vs evil, twisty turny crime and greed don’t pay morality tale that would appeal to a wide range of readers, with a fantastic fly on the wall narrative and a stable full of unforgettable characters.  The novel has enough information to be read as a standalone but reading the books in order will give readers all the backstory to fill in the blanks. Fans of Lisa Gardner and Patricia Cromwell would really love this novel.

Now that Nefi Jenkins has a degree from Harvard under her belt all she wants is to be an FBI agent and to be married to her FBI fiancé Vincent Gunnerson, and she’s really looking forward to attending the summer internship at Quantico. What she never in a million years expected was to learn she’s got a trust fund that unbeknown to her has been under her grandmother’s care since her parents’ tragic deaths but now that she’s 21 it’s all hers. Problem is that there’s some money missing and Nefi’s not liking where the finger of blame is pointing so she’s decided to hire a forensic accountant to look into it, not knowing that she’s just opened a deadly Pandora’s box of trouble.

 First Three Books in the series

About the author:
Joni M. Fisher
writes suspenseful crime stories about heroines who don't wait to be rescued. Her Compass Crimes suspense series has garnered attention in Publisher's Weekly, the National Indie Excellence Awards, the Clue Book Awards, the Royal Palm Literary Awards, the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the Kindle Book Awards, and others. She served on the Arts and Humanities Advisory Board for Southeastern University and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Florida Writers Association, and Sisters in Crime. She’s also an instrument-rated private pilot. Her fingerprints are on file with the FBI.

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