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Loosely based on the personal experience of author Liz Lazarus, Free of Malice is a psychological thriller with enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing until the end.
“No one expects to wake up in the middle of the night with a stranger in their bedroom,” said author Liz Lazarus. “It was both horrific and surreal. I instantly switched into survival mode, fighting back with all my might. After it was over, my sense of security was shattered, but writing helped me to heal. And I’ve been told by other survivors that reading my book made them feel more normal—that they weren’t alone in how they were reacting and coping.”
Set in Atlanta, main character Laura Holland, a rising journalist, endures a night of terror when she is attacked in her home. Although she fights off the would-be rapist, his parting words are a threat to return. Laura undergoes therapy to recover from the trauma, learning about a relatively new technique called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) used for PTSD patients. But just when the reader feels a sense of where this book is headed—the story of a woman healing—the plot veers in a new direction.
Though Laura did not own a gun at the time, she wishes she could have shot her attacker as he fled. When she learns that her actions might not have been deemed self-defense, her journalistic instincts are kindled. Laura decides to write a hypothetical legal case, which plays out the events of that night had she shot and killed her assailant. She enlists the help of a young, black attorney, Thomas Bennett. Though Thomas proves to be clever in the rules of the criminal justice system, his striking resemblance to her attacker does not go unnoticed. As the two work together to develop the case, Laura’s discomfort escalates, particularly when Thomas seems to know more about that night than he should. Could he possibly be her assailant or is Laura being hyper-vigilant? Reality and fiction soon merge as her real-life drama begins to mirror the fiction she’s trying to create.
As an added bonus, the book has a theme song written by one of the author’s best friends, Thomas Barnette, who is also the inspiration for the lawyer character. We invite you to listen to “Let Me Breathe,” co-produced by Liz Lazarus, at www.freeofmalice.com.