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The Barrister and the Letter of Marque

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As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes has witnessed firsthand the danger of only the wealthy having their voices heard, and he's a strong advocate who defends the poorer classes against the powerful. That changes the day a struggling heiress, Lady Madeleine Jameson, arrives at his door. In a last-ditch effort to save her faltering estate, Lady Jameson invested in a As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes has witnessed firsthand the danger of only the wealthy having their voices heard, and he's a strong advocate who defends the poorer classes against the powerful. That changes the day a struggling heiress, Lady Madeleine Jameson, arrives at his door. In a last-ditch effort to save her faltering estate, Lady Jameson invested in a merchant brig, the Padget. The ship was granted a rare privilege by the king's regent: a Letter of Marque authorizing the captain to seize the cargo of French traders operating illegally in the Indian Sea. Yet when the Padget returns to London, her crew is met by soldiers ready to take possession of their goods and arrest the captain for piracy. And the Letter--the sole proof his actions were legal--has mysteriously vanished. Moved by the lady's distress, intrigued by the Letter, and goaded by an opposing solicitor, Snopes takes the case. But as he delves deeper into the mystery, he learns that the forces arrayed against Lady Jameson, and now himself, are even more perilous than he'd imagined.


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As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes has witnessed firsthand the danger of only the wealthy having their voices heard, and he's a strong advocate who defends the poorer classes against the powerful. That changes the day a struggling heiress, Lady Madeleine Jameson, arrives at his door. In a last-ditch effort to save her faltering estate, Lady Jameson invested in a As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes has witnessed firsthand the danger of only the wealthy having their voices heard, and he's a strong advocate who defends the poorer classes against the powerful. That changes the day a struggling heiress, Lady Madeleine Jameson, arrives at his door. In a last-ditch effort to save her faltering estate, Lady Jameson invested in a merchant brig, the Padget. The ship was granted a rare privilege by the king's regent: a Letter of Marque authorizing the captain to seize the cargo of French traders operating illegally in the Indian Sea. Yet when the Padget returns to London, her crew is met by soldiers ready to take possession of their goods and arrest the captain for piracy. And the Letter--the sole proof his actions were legal--has mysteriously vanished. Moved by the lady's distress, intrigued by the Letter, and goaded by an opposing solicitor, Snopes takes the case. But as he delves deeper into the mystery, he learns that the forces arrayed against Lady Jameson, and now himself, are even more perilous than he'd imagined.

30 review for The Barrister and the Letter of Marque

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tamar...light at the end of the tunnel?

    I finished this book last week and really enjoyed. It was a quick, light read with a page-flipping suspenseful ending. I am a little confused as to why this is considered Christian Fiction since you don't need to have religion to have good values. There is a Priest in the book who shows up here and there and contributes a bit but not much (no disrespect intended). The book is also categorized as historical fiction, and that is spot on. TBLM is a British legal courtroom drama/suspense novel circa I finished this book last week and really enjoyed. It was a quick, light read with a page-flipping suspenseful ending. I am a little confused as to why this is considered Christian Fiction since you don't need to have religion to have good values. There is a Priest in the book who shows up here and there and contributes a bit but not much (no disrespect intended). The book is also categorized as historical fiction, and that is spot on. TBLM is a British legal courtroom drama/suspense novel circa late 1700's and can also be categorized as YA/Juvenile Lit. It is reminiscent of Garrow's Law - one of my favorite BBC One television series. William Snopes, like William Garrow (1760-1840), champions the downtrodden have-nots, especially those who are thrown under the bus by the Aristocratic can-never-have-enoughs. The expensive war with the French is over, everyone is trying to replenish their coffers. Lady Jameson enlists the help of Barrister Snopes, his grudging Junior, Edmund, and Solicitor Obadiah to save her cousin (Captain Tuttle) from the noose, after being charged with piracy. Tuttle claims that he was enlisted to confiscate illegal tea cargo from French ships by authority of a Letter of Marque. The Jameson Estate is mortgaged to the hilt. The final remnants of the family's assets are used as security against monies to be begged or borrowed from ruthless usurers so that Jameson can invest in Tuttle’s voyage of the Padget for a percentage of the return on the cargo to be confiscated. But, just as Tuttle brings home the bacon (er, tea), the ship is seized by Order of the Realm and Tuttle is arrested for Piracy. When he attempts to provide the Letter of Marque to prove his innocence, the letter has vanished. What follows is an exciting tale of deception scaling the very highest reaches of the Kingdom. There is danger, intrigue, and romance. We see that Lady Jameson is strong and resilient to the end. Snopes, on the other hand, is totally besotted and sees himself as her savior, swooping down to release her bonds and rescue Lady Jameson from the train tracks, milliseconds before the train passes over her, thereby thwarting Snideley Whiplash’s evil plans to do away with her and claim the Jameson Estate. (OK – I MADE THAT LAST PART UP, but it could have happened that way if Snidely hadn’t been penned by a different author, and practiced his evil about two hundred years later on the other side of the Atlantic). My pet peeve is always the epilogue. Rarely do I feel a need for this overused literary device. It seems like more than half the books I read today, tag on an epilogue after ending. This book actually had an excellent (unlabeled) epilogue before the titled epilogue, whereby the most important issues were resolved to Snopes’ satisfaction and according to his resolute moral and ethical compass. Alas, I fear I am the (l)onely person on the planet who thinks that epilogues are meant for wowing and not just for tying up loose ends. TBLM is a great book and I would like to thank NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the ARC, and the opportunity to read and review, It was a fun read and I loved it!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn Green

    The Barrister and the Letter of Marque combines the intrigue of John Grisham, the vibrant world of Charles Dickens, and a mystery worthy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. With as many twists and turns as a crooked London alley, this novel held me captive from the first page to the last. This richly historical and lively-paced story has all the makings of a modern classic. I’m ready to join Barrister William Snopes for his next adventure!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Grace Johnson

    *Warnings* #1 This is a long review, so pull up a chair and grab a bowl of popcorn. You’ll be here awhile. #2 When I read a review, I want substantial information. So I will not skimp on the details. Which may mean some spoilers, so watch out. Stars: 4 Synopsis: William Snopes could have been a barrister with all the prestige due his talents...but he vowed long ago not to represent the upper class he came from. Until an enigmatic woman, an alleged pirate, and a missing Letter of Marque challenge hi *Warnings* #1 This is a long review, so pull up a chair and grab a bowl of popcorn. You’ll be here awhile. #2 When I read a review, I want substantial information. So I will not skimp on the details. Which may mean some spoilers, so watch out. Stars: 4 Synopsis: William Snopes could have been a barrister with all the prestige due his talents...but he vowed long ago not to represent the upper class he came from. Until an enigmatic woman, an alleged pirate, and a missing Letter of Marque challenge him to break that vow and put his career and life in jeopardy. Favorite Quote: “Father Thomas will tell you from his profession that it’s God’s most fundamental trait. The essence of who He is. In the courtroom, truth is tool and brick: powerful to wield and the only foundation for real justice.” I think we all know that I like historical fiction, and some of y’all know that I, upon occasion, enjoy a well-written mystery. What no one, not even I, had the foggiest notion of, was that I would actually really like, of all things, legal thrillers. I’m not surprised, though. The Barrister and the Letter of Marque (which I will henceforth shorten to The Barrister for convenience purposes) was an exemplary novel that spoke to the Nancy Drew and John Grisham in me. It was the perfect balance of history, mystery, intrigue, suspense, and romance. Well, I wouldn’t have minded a little more romance, but I honestly didn’t expect any, so I’m not complaining! From page one, this novel kept me on my toes! The way Johnson crafted the mystery was artful and careful—and seriously, the next time someone gives me a spoiler-ridden prologue and I totally forget about it halfway through the book, I’m going to kick myself! There were so many red herrings, unseen clues, and hidden motives that kept me guessing. Without a doubt, the mystery and suspense elements of The Barrister were perfect. But there was more to the novel, which I was exceedingly grateful for. Most of the time, mysteries and suspenses tend to focus only on the main plot, never on the characters, the message, or any subplots. Not so with this novel. Nope. Johnson made each character so vibrant and brought them to life with quirks and patterns and quick glimpses into their minds—from William’s affinity for music, which created a score for the entire book, to Sergeant Rhodes’ love of Byron. William was a great hero—even-tempered and logical, almost morally grey at times but still possessing a moral compass and a sense of justice that drove him throughout the book. Obadiah, Edmund, and Father Thomas made a lovely supporting cast that truly fit the description by supporting William, from a technical standpoint as their characters complimented and contrasted with his and from a story standpoint, as they all stood by him and helped him with the case and all the trials (no pun intended) that came along with it. And Madeleine. Y’all, I actually have good things to say about Madeleine. Which is weird, because I know from experience that no living man can accurately write a woman. (And by living, I mean that the generation of writers that seemed to somewhat grasp the female mind has since passed on.) Except for Todd M. Johnson. He actually wrote Madeleine’s character better than I think even Madeleine could—or at least any of the many female authors of this genre. She was strong and stubborn, but she didn’t overtake the story. She was genuine and heartfelt, but never overly emotional or whiny. She wasn’t a James Bond girl—there only to look pretty—but she certainly wasn’t a feminist-style character who tried to run the show. There was nothing excessive about her, and that’s what I liked the most. She was simple, uncomplicated, a refresher for William and me after all the secrecy and intrigue. And at the same time, she had substance. Oh, I know none of that makes sense, but once you read it, you’ll understand. Madeleine was a character that seemed real and was expertly written...especially considering it was a guy doing the writing. (No offense to guys; there are plenty of fantastic male authors out there...but they do just as fine a job of writing women as we women do men.) (Although, if you catch me at the right time, you might hear me argue that women are better at writing men...but we won’t go there today.) Not only were Johnson’s characters lovely, but the dialogue was perhaps even better. He truly captured the era with the dialogue, which perhaps provided the most authenticity to the Regency setting of anything in the entire novel, and I loved reading every interaction between the characters. Unfortunately, the narrative did lack some of the color and style the dialogue did. By no means was it bad, but it didn’t bear the same unique tone...which was kind of sad. I always love reading narrative that emulates the setting of the story. Laura Frantz’s prose is so and such a pleasure to read. In the end, though, it was the trial scenes that captivated me. They were, of course, the true essence of the novel, weren’t they? There’s something about trials that are so interesting. I don’t understand a lick of all the legal nonsense (although I do, of course, fully understand the concepts of privateering and piracy...this is me we’re talking about, you know), but once we enter the courtroom and start playing tennis with questions and accusations, everything falls into place. If I ever took up a sport, it’d definitely be word tennis. William was truly a genius, and it’s always fun to read from the point-of-view of someone who knows what they’re doing, what’s going on, and how to react to it. I do have to mention the small messages and spiritual truths Johnson interwove into the story—thanks to our dear Father Thomas. Every time the man opened his mouth, I applauded his wisdom. I really wish that there had been some softening of William’s heart toward the end of the novel toward God, though—perhaps if that meant he began seeing law and justice through His eyes, took the steps toward forgiving his father and the rest of the aristocracy, or simply started living as God had commanded him. Either way, Johnson did have a lovely theme of truth and justice, and once you put that with vibrant characters, engaging trial scenes, and perfect dialogue, you’ve got quite the novel on your hands. I’m certainly glad I got the chance to read it, even though I’d no idea how much I would enjoy it! Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Staci

    1818 London Todd M Johnson shows his versatility with this release. The prior three novels I've read have been set in the present day. His talent is equally good in both. While I was engaged the entire novel, my need to turn virtual pages picked up dramatically about midway through as the plot started to become more clear. This historical mystery includes all the elements that I look for in this type of novel: the story line is plausible, historical details included, the characters likeable and the 1818 London Todd M Johnson shows his versatility with this release. The prior three novels I've read have been set in the present day. His talent is equally good in both. While I was engaged the entire novel, my need to turn virtual pages picked up dramatically about midway through as the plot started to become more clear. This historical mystery includes all the elements that I look for in this type of novel: the story line is plausible, historical details included, the characters likeable and the mystery interesting. I especially loved Mr Snopes heart for teenage orphans. This was a rather twisted tale and one I would recommend for fans of historical mysteries. My gratitude to publisher Bethany House for a complimentary NetGalley copy of the novel.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Schmidt (Reading is My SuperPower)

    4.5 stars Wow! This twisty legal suspense set in the Regency era had me riveted to the page, never quite knowing what would happen next. It took a few chapters for me to get fully enthralled by the story, but there was enough that intrigued me to keep me reading. And boy… once William Snopes begins investigating the case (even before he completely agrees to take it) you won’t be able to put this book down until you’ve read the last word. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because it’s so 4.5 stars Wow! This twisty legal suspense set in the Regency era had me riveted to the page, never quite knowing what would happen next. It took a few chapters for me to get fully enthralled by the story, but there was enough that intrigued me to keep me reading. And boy… once William Snopes begins investigating the case (even before he completely agrees to take it) you won’t be able to put this book down until you’ve read the last word. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because it’s so masterfully and intelligently drawn that you need to experience it for yourself, but I will say this: Very little is as it first appears, and no certain outcome is guaranteed. There are things we know that we know… and then there are things we think that we know… and then there are things that we don’t know at all. The same can be said about poor William & the rest of his legal team but, thanks to the various perspectives we are privy to during the narrative, often the things we think we know are things he doesn’t know yet. This adds to the overall mood of suspense that the story wears well and left me completely unsure how the case would turn out. Just about the time I thought I finally knew, something else would happen to upend all my assurances. Gah! This novel is so twisty and turny and atmospheric – it’s fabulous! Bottom Line: The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson is a riveting story that would do the great British mystery masters proud. The Regency setting contributes greatly to the suspenseful tone of the novel, as do the moments when we experience the story through a character other than our main hero, Barrister William Snopes. Johnson skillfully allows the tenets of the case to unfold with few hints as to how it will all play out, and in so doing he creates a handful of key players that we become deeply invested in. A dash of romance fed my love-story-loving heart, and I for one hope we get to spend more time in this world with these characters. Brilliantly done! (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book) first reviewed at Reading Is My SuperPower

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Thanks to Bethany House for advanced reader copy of this enjoyable Regency adventure introducing us to a principled barrister with a fine challenge on his hands. I have read countless Regency books, but this one manages to surprise and bring a smile imagining Beau Brummel involved with Princess Charlotte devising decidedly criminal schemes for profit. Will all be revealed in a court of law? You must read this book to find out. I will look for more books by this author starring the barrister Willi Thanks to Bethany House for advanced reader copy of this enjoyable Regency adventure introducing us to a principled barrister with a fine challenge on his hands. I have read countless Regency books, but this one manages to surprise and bring a smile imagining Beau Brummel involved with Princess Charlotte devising decidedly criminal schemes for profit. Will all be revealed in a court of law? You must read this book to find out. I will look for more books by this author starring the barrister William with the promise of more in store on a personal level with the lady who hired him to resolve a rather large legal mess featured in this book. This was offered by Net Galley email offering several books I might enjoy. Thank You Net Galley!

  7. 4 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Intrigue in high places! 1818 London docks. A ship under guard, the captain, Harold Tuttle, disappeared and rumours of piracy abound. Lady Madeline Jameson has invested family money in one last throw for solvency when her cousin obtains a Letter of Marque from the Regent. The Padgett returns triumphant to England with a valuable cargo of smuggled tea wrested from a French ship. In direct contravention of the law as it pertains to the East India Company and the tea trade. William Snopes is a barris Intrigue in high places! 1818 London docks. A ship under guard, the captain, Harold Tuttle, disappeared and rumours of piracy abound. Lady Madeline Jameson has invested family money in one last throw for solvency when her cousin obtains a Letter of Marque from the Regent. The Padgett returns triumphant to England with a valuable cargo of smuggled tea wrested from a French ship. In direct contravention of the law as it pertains to the East India Company and the tea trade. William Snopes is a barrister, the son of a Lord, who turned away from his heritage due to the despicable behaviour of his father. When Madeline visits to plead her case he little understands that the trail of breadcrumbs he has to follow will lead from the dangerous underbelly of society to the even more treacherous heights of society. Both Madeline and William are fascinating characters. Madeline in her passionate defence of the people and land she’s responsible for, William for his determination to rise to the challenge of defending cases in order to make a difference. Some illuminating forays into justice and the laws of the time plus the mystery of the situation made this a provocative read. A Bethany House ARC via NetGalley

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristina Hall

    Characters: I have mixed feelings about the characters in this novel. William Snopes, the main character, was quite complicated (which is good for a character), but sometimes, his morals seemed to be driven by "the end justifies the means." He also had quite the hangup regarding all rich people because his rich father was a creep. He almost refused to take a lady's case until he saw her wearing ratty clothes because she was cleaning her own house. He made a little progress by the end of the book Characters: I have mixed feelings about the characters in this novel. William Snopes, the main character, was quite complicated (which is good for a character), but sometimes, his morals seemed to be driven by "the end justifies the means." He also had quite the hangup regarding all rich people because his rich father was a creep. He almost refused to take a lady's case until he saw her wearing ratty clothes because she was cleaning her own house. He made a little progress by the end of the book--he told the truth when it'd have been easier to lie--but he didn't experience as much character growth as I'd have liked. Madeleine, the lady whose case he ended up taking, had to be the most interesting character, but she didn't get all that much time in the story. Adding to my mixed feelings were the villains. Both were supposed to be historical figures (or at least they shared names with these historical figures). The problem for me was that the lady historical figure actually died in childbirth in 1817 (this book was set in 1818). And the guy historical figure actually fled to France in 1816. Plus, I'm not sure either were true villains in real life. I wish the author had included an author's note explaining these characters/historical figures and the date discrepancies. Language: Clean. Moral: This book was really, really light on any Christian content (which is becoming all too common in Christian fiction). If I had to pick a theme, I'd go with something to do with lying/telling the truth. Plot: The creative plot was my favorite part of this book. I could tell the author put a lot of work into the law details and other plot-related details. I do feel like this novel could've been at least fifty pages shorter. Some parts dragged for me. Romance: Clean. Romance didn't play a big part in this story. Writing: Todd Johnson's writing style worked well for this novel. Overall: Even though this book wasn't one of my favorites, I'd still recommend it to those who enjoy Christian fiction, historical fiction, and legal stories.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    Not only was this my first Christian fiction book by a male author, it was also my first time reading a legal drama. It was utterly fascinating! This is not your average Regency novel! I found myself being disappointed everytime I had to pause reading because I needed to eat or sleep etc. I really enjoyed learning about the different aspects of the legal system and the varying layers of society and how it often affected how justice was carried out. I really liked Williams Snopes and thoroughly e Not only was this my first Christian fiction book by a male author, it was also my first time reading a legal drama. It was utterly fascinating! This is not your average Regency novel! I found myself being disappointed everytime I had to pause reading because I needed to eat or sleep etc. I really enjoyed learning about the different aspects of the legal system and the varying layers of society and how it often affected how justice was carried out. I really liked Williams Snopes and thoroughly enjoyed his intelligence and his verbal sparring in court. I'm a big romance buff but I was so hooked by the story that I didn't even notice or mind the lack of romance in the storyline. There was a teeny tiny bit of romance at the end which made me happy. The mystery, suspense, crime and drama of this book will draw you in from the begining and hold your attention to the very last page! I sincerely hope that this book becomes a series and this isn't the last we'll hear of William Snopes and his team! I was gifted a copy of the story but all views and opinions expressed are my own.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Clark

    The Barrister and the Letter of Marque is a thrilling Regency tale with Dickensian flair that matches characters in a battle of wits both in and out of a courtroom setting. Combining societal expectations with a compelling and smartly spun mystery, it paces itself with an immersive setting and many threads at the beginning only to rush into a gallop midpoint as the high stakes become clear and the suspense heightens. This is the first novel I’ve read by Todd M. Johnson. It is clearly well-researc The Barrister and the Letter of Marque is a thrilling Regency tale with Dickensian flair that matches characters in a battle of wits both in and out of a courtroom setting. Combining societal expectations with a compelling and smartly spun mystery, it paces itself with an immersive setting and many threads at the beginning only to rush into a gallop midpoint as the high stakes become clear and the suspense heightens. This is the first novel I’ve read by Todd M. Johnson. It is clearly well-researched with its London setting, especially, shining as a character itself. The points of view are used cleverly as the hero, William Snopes, gets most of the page time, but his surrounding friends, Lady Jameson, and even more sinister side characters have points of view that complicate the story. This sometimes leaves the reader with a greater sense of suspense as he or she is privy to the mysterious goings on moreso than Barrister Snopes. I really enjoyed the strong themes of justice that shine through in this novel, and the fortitude of the characters as they contend with unseen opponents to ferret out the truth. Personal convictions and an empathetic hero who stands for the truth add emotional notes to the story. I was particularly interested in his backstory as it was expounded and fully invested in his success. I hope to see more historical legal thrillers in this vein from Johnson — hopefully more with Barrister William Snopes! Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (Bookworm Lisa)

    ***4.5 stars*** I love historical fiction that is full of intrigue and mystery. The Barrister and the Letter of Marque carried the perfect amount of both that left me anticipating the turning of the page as I dove into the world that Todd M. Johnson created. Lady Jameson made an unfortunate financial decision that took her and her family to the point of ruin. Their ship was seized in port for piracy, even though a Letter of Marque had been obtained. The letter disappeared the moment it was needed ***4.5 stars*** I love historical fiction that is full of intrigue and mystery. The Barrister and the Letter of Marque carried the perfect amount of both that left me anticipating the turning of the page as I dove into the world that Todd M. Johnson created. Lady Jameson made an unfortunate financial decision that took her and her family to the point of ruin. Their ship was seized in port for piracy, even though a Letter of Marque had been obtained. The letter disappeared the moment it was needed the most. Leading to the retaining of a barrister, William Snopes. Snopes is not just any barrister, he is exceptional. He uses frowned upon techniques to bring about a favorable verdict for his clients. His cunning, style, confidence, and tenacity lead Lady Jameson to his office to seek his help. The book is reminiscent of the classics. Snopes is willing to hunt down the evidence to determine why the Padget has been seized. Why was a family at the point of bankruptcy targeted? Why was the captain thrown into prison without a trace to his whereabouts? So many pieces of the puzzle did not fit. Snopes could tell that the case of the Crown would not bear up to scrutiny. The plot is intricate with many players. I loved how Johnson was able to bring them together in a near-seamless fashion. It was an intricate story that was easy to follow along and interesting to read. The story contains non-graphic violence. Source: I received a complimentary copy. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Wonderful legal thriller that follows a new barrister to the bench in this beautifully atmospheric setting of post-Napoleonic War England. The economic hardships suffered during the war were strongly felt during this time of empty royal coffers and struggling estates. With charges of piracy, and hints of espionage that reach from the London underworld to the highest levels of society, the author has the perfect ingredients to concoct a masterfully penned historical legal thriller. The joy in rea Wonderful legal thriller that follows a new barrister to the bench in this beautifully atmospheric setting of post-Napoleonic War England. The economic hardships suffered during the war were strongly felt during this time of empty royal coffers and struggling estates. With charges of piracy, and hints of espionage that reach from the London underworld to the highest levels of society, the author has the perfect ingredients to concoct a masterfully penned historical legal thriller. The joy in reading this novel is like peeling the many layers of an onion as the plot is slowly and expertly revealed with each turn of the page. The author’s detailed historical research, knowledge of the law and talent with the pen has crafted a memorable story. I hope to meet barrister William Snopes again. I received a complimentary copy from the author/publisher and Netgalley. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dana Michael

    The Barrister and the Letter of Marque is a book full of mystery, suspense, twists, and unforgettable characters with just a hint of romance. I was hooked from the first page and couldn't put it down. I really had no idea how it would end and it was a very satisfying end with I hope more books to follow. This is by a new to me author and I will definitely be reading his backlist. *I was given a copy of this book by Bethany Publishers and this is my honest opinion. The Barrister and the Letter of Marque is a book full of mystery, suspense, twists, and unforgettable characters with just a hint of romance. I was hooked from the first page and couldn't put it down. I really had no idea how it would end and it was a very satisfying end with I hope more books to follow. This is by a new to me author and I will definitely be reading his backlist. *I was given a copy of this book by Bethany Publishers and this is my honest opinion.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lady Wesley

    I very rarely read books about lawyers, and I never read Christian fiction. This book would never appeal to me, except the synopsis sounded very interesting and Bethany House Publishers sent me a free copy without my even asking. We shall see.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

    Crusaders come in all shapes and forms and some don’t even realize they are such a person until they face down injustice at the expense of reputation, career, and even life to see a wrong is righted. The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson, a historical mystery that balances Regency backdrop with legal thriller, captivated me from page one. A Regency period barrister, William Snopes, who champions the commoner in his clever and cunning way finds himself faced with a conundrum. D Crusaders come in all shapes and forms and some don’t even realize they are such a person until they face down injustice at the expense of reputation, career, and even life to see a wrong is righted. The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson, a historical mystery that balances Regency backdrop with legal thriller, captivated me from page one. A Regency period barrister, William Snopes, who champions the commoner in his clever and cunning way finds himself faced with a conundrum. Does he take a case that goes against his principle of never representing someone from the upper classes and particularly a case that has far reaching ramifications for all involved or tell the desperate woman, Lady Madeleine, he cannot? To help make up his mind, he has his well-trained, staunch junior barrister, Edmund, his solicitor, and other reliable sources help him determine if the lady is telling the truth about her cousin, his ship, his crew, and goods being seized for piracy because the Letter of Marque he was carrying has disappeared. No reports in the newspapers, no stirring in the legal community, and certainly no hint of the other mysterious backers of the ship have surfaced, but slowly he discovers that Madeleine is telling the truth and someone in great power doesn’t want any of it to come out even as they are prepared for a captain and crew and maybe Madeleine and her father to take the fall. Madeleine has staked everything on this shipping venture and owes loans to some dangerous people even an American smuggler who, along with the greedy family lawyer, want their money. Her father’s mind is gone, the family estate is in shambles, and every friend, it seems, has turned their back on her. In desperation, she turns to a ‘blood-sucking’ lawyer to help her cousin survive the hangman’s noose and for her and her father not to be left destitute. Slowly, she realizes William is unlike any barrister she has heard of and he might be the only one who can fight in spite of all the disappearing evidence and witnesses while taking pressure from the judge, the prosecutor, unknown adversaries, and society itself for pursuing the case. The threats grow more dangerous. Many lives are at stake and the corruption behind the situation comes from powerful sources who can’t afford for the truth to get out. I’ve always been fond of underdog characters and historical mysteries that include courtroom drama. This one got pretty dire for those on the side of good and there was a formidable group of villains ranged against them. The camaraderie among William and his investigation team was a great additional element. The Barrister and the Letter of Marque starts slow as it introduces the characters, the world, and the mystery, but then it gains steady momentum until near the end when the pace is feverish and the suspense is ratcheted up pretty tight. This was not a mystery where the perpetrators and their motives were hidden so much as it was how to thwart the villains’ conniving, well-laid plans and powerful resources. Though, that said, there are surprise twists including a big one in the end to liven up the tale. The author did a sensational job developing the character of William who is at the center of it all. Madeline and the others including some of the villains, as well, are deftly drawn and with depth so character, motives, and emotions give layers to the story. I enjoyed getting to know and spending time with these characters and would happily see them return in a series. The historical background and setting of post Napoleonic War Regency England was brought to rich, colorful life. The author made London and, particularly the dockside and East End, a sensual experience so that dark dank alleys, smoky aromatic wharfside pubs, trading ships, and even Madeleine’s crumbling, impoverished estate easy to imagine. It was obvious the author did his homework on the era and also infused the story with his own legal expertise so that William, descriptions of his work, and the courtroom drama all rang true. To wrap it up, I was well-enamored with The Barrister and the Letter of Marque. It hit all the right notes leaving me satiated, but yearning for more mysteries and courtroom battles for William and his friends to solve. Though not gritty, the book isn’t exactly light and cozy either so it would appeal to anyone from historical cozy to mild historical thriller fans.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Monzon

    I have to say I’ve never read a book quite like this one. Admittedly, the beginning was a bit slow and tedious. I know it was nevesssry to set the scene for the court case, but if I hadn’t gotten the book off Netgalley, I might have set it aside. I’m glad, however, that I stuck with it because as I kept turning pages I became more intrigued and invested.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kelly-Ann ~ Sassy Bookish Mama

    I honestly did not know what to expect with this book. The cover right away drew me in and I am so glad it did. Mr. Johnson's passion exudes through the book and it's evident by the details in the story. The characters were engaging and well written. William definitely is the main character but we also get to meet Lady Jameson and some other sinister characters. The story is full of suspense and the themes of justice are the brightest points throughout the story. The book reminded me of the clas I honestly did not know what to expect with this book. The cover right away drew me in and I am so glad it did. Mr. Johnson's passion exudes through the book and it's evident by the details in the story. The characters were engaging and well written. William definitely is the main character but we also get to meet Lady Jameson and some other sinister characters. The story is full of suspense and the themes of justice are the brightest points throughout the story. The book reminded me of the classic mysteries. I really enjoyed it and can't wait to read more from this author. If you enjoy mysteries that are based on legal issues and have a strong historical background then this is the book for you! I received a copy of this book from Bethany House publishers. I was not required to post a positive review. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lauren (thebookscript)

    I read a review somewhere that this was a little Charles Dickens and a little Sherlock Homes and I feel like that is a fairly accurate description. This is historical fiction meets mystery with a whisper -- a mere WHISPER of romance. If you've seen the show "Amazing Grace" this also reminded me of that vibe as well. And if you haven't seen Amazing Grace I highly suggest you remedy that. William Snopes is a man who defends the poor and the fallen against the rich and powerful. When a desperate hei I read a review somewhere that this was a little Charles Dickens and a little Sherlock Homes and I feel like that is a fairly accurate description. This is historical fiction meets mystery with a whisper -- a mere WHISPER of romance. If you've seen the show "Amazing Grace" this also reminded me of that vibe as well. And if you haven't seen Amazing Grace I highly suggest you remedy that. William Snopes is a man who defends the poor and the fallen against the rich and powerful. When a desperate heiress comes calling with a case involving a wrongly convicted relative he picks up the case. I enjoyed going deeper into the regency era and learning about it in a way I previous had not in books. It was well researched and scripted according to this period. There is smuggling, and mystery, legal courtroom drama, and found family. This is everything that would make a good masterpiece movie. Its definitely not the book you want to pick up when searching for a "light" read, but in the hands of the right audience I believe it is incredibly well done.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rachel McMillan

    from endorsement: With shades of Patrick O'Brian and Charles Finch, The Barrister and the Letter of Marque is an intelligent and cerebral mystery set in a fully flourished Regency London. At once atmospheric and gripping, Johnson's latest is a luminous and refreshing new offering in inspirational historical fiction. I enjoyed meeting William Snopes who is a blend of vulnerable, indomitable and whip-smart and as complex as my favourite varietal of Earl Grey. I cannot wait to see where he leads us from endorsement: With shades of Patrick O'Brian and Charles Finch, The Barrister and the Letter of Marque is an intelligent and cerebral mystery set in a fully flourished Regency London. At once atmospheric and gripping, Johnson's latest is a luminous and refreshing new offering in inspirational historical fiction. I enjoyed meeting William Snopes who is a blend of vulnerable, indomitable and whip-smart and as complex as my favourite varietal of Earl Grey. I cannot wait to see where he leads us next.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    The Barrister and the Letter of Marque is an excellent cozy mystery, with a tiny bit of romance thrown in. Let me start by sharing what I like about a good mystery. First, the characters need to be rich. Checkmark there. The plot line should not be predictable (the whole point of a mystery is to gradually assemble the pieces, not quite knowing how it all comes together in the end). Checkmark here too. The setting has a huge impact on the mood of the story. In this case it was historic London (ea The Barrister and the Letter of Marque is an excellent cozy mystery, with a tiny bit of romance thrown in. Let me start by sharing what I like about a good mystery. First, the characters need to be rich. Checkmark there. The plot line should not be predictable (the whole point of a mystery is to gradually assemble the pieces, not quite knowing how it all comes together in the end). Checkmark here too. The setting has a huge impact on the mood of the story. In this case it was historic London (early 1800s). Checkmark here as well. Todd M. Johnson does an excellent job with this entertaining read. His legal background comes through but in a way that any lay-person can easily follow and enjoy. I'd recommend this novel to historical fiction readers in the mood for a cozy, well drawn out mystery that maintains your interest right to the end. I received a complementary copy of this book. Opinions expressed are entirely my own.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Yesha- Books Teacup and Reviews

    Disclaimer : I received e-copy of this book as a part of blog tour via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Laurel @Austen Prose for tour invite and publisher, author, NetGalley for review copy. It was intriguing and complex historical fiction that revolved around barrister William Snopes defending the case of piracy and the mystery of Letter of Marque. The story was about greed, exploitation, deceit, corruption, determination, courage, social differences, ethics, loyalty, a Disclaimer : I received e-copy of this book as a part of blog tour via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Laurel @Austen Prose for tour invite and publisher, author, NetGalley for review copy. It was intriguing and complex historical fiction that revolved around barrister William Snopes defending the case of piracy and the mystery of Letter of Marque. The story was about greed, exploitation, deceit, corruption, determination, courage, social differences, ethics, loyalty, and friendship. Setting of post Napoleonic War Regency England was atmospheric. William was fantastic throughout the book. The way he gathered information and fought the case with no evidence and only based on his assumptions and keeping the final hearing at bay until he actually could prove something was commendable. There was hint of romance and light spiritual and philosophical elements that was written through William’s verbal sparring with Father Thomas which was interesting to read. Best part of the book was court room drama, William and his team’s investigation, and villains’ plan. Overall, The Barrister and the Letter of Marque was intriguing, gripping, and well written legal historical fiction with complex plot and interesting characters. I highly recommend this if you like, courtroom drama early 1800s regency era Unpredictability Well written main character complex plot full review - https://booksteacupreviews.com/2021/0...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mimi

    The Regency era is one of my favorites. It's so easy to imagine the time and setting during these years in England. The Barrister and the Letter of Marque was a different read than the usual Regency I read. I don't know if that's because the author is male? Well, I can tell you, I'll be reading more of his books now that I've finished this one. While the book is just over 400 pages, it doesn't feel that way. It's one of those reads that pulls you into the story and you get immersed in it. I even The Regency era is one of my favorites. It's so easy to imagine the time and setting during these years in England. The Barrister and the Letter of Marque was a different read than the usual Regency I read. I don't know if that's because the author is male? Well, I can tell you, I'll be reading more of his books now that I've finished this one. While the book is just over 400 pages, it doesn't feel that way. It's one of those reads that pulls you into the story and you get immersed in it. I even shared on Instagram that the prologue totally hooked me when I started reading it. I know this might be crazy to say, but I really liked that romance wasn't the thread of this story. There's the slightest hint and it doesn't come until way later in the book, and more so towards the end. I liked that it focused on the mystery surrounding the ship, its crew, and those wanting to cause problems. That, and Williams ragtag crew of two young men who were living in a home for boys and took under his wing, you've got a fine recipe for a terrific story. William really came to life in this story. Who doesn't love a guy who leaves his titled family to hobnob with the commoners? If I was ever going to have a barrister, he'd be my go-to guy. He's like a pitbull that doesn't give up. I also liked that the two young men who assist him aren't "yes men". They, especially Edmund, give him a good run for his money, but also help William out exactly how he needs it! Then there's Lady Madeleine. Goodness, could your heart go out to a woman any more than her? Her family is already suffering and their last ditch effort to save their good name sails into port and is immediately apprehended as a pirate ship. She makes you absolutely root for the underdog. I, surprisingly, was able to deduce something early on in the story, which is not my norm. I don't think it has to do with the author giving anything away. My brain was just working extra special that day. hahaha But, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how he was going to allow the main character to flesh everything out so that it all worked to solving the case. Once you read the story you'll understand why I'm saying this. In a way, I wish this was a series because I would've enjoyed reading more about Edmund. I feel like there's an extra story there. I'd love to see him come into his own as a barrister and win a case he leads. I mean, I can throw this out to the author, right? As the author is a trial lawyer himself, it explains a lot of the intricate details to the case and how he was able to unroll this for the reader in such a believable way. I think his experience in this field showed through the writing in a very distinct way. There wasn't really a faith element in the story in regards to the main character, but he did have Father Thomas whom he relied on. I always enjoy stories a bit more when the main characters have a crisis of faith and come up from under it or are transformed by faith. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author! *I received this book for review. This is my personal opinion.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rosalyn

    Slow start, great progression, amazing ending This is a new to me author. I love historical mysteries, so when I heard about this, I was instantly intrigued. I first picked up this book about two weeks ago and tried to read it. I only got about the first two chapters read, and then had to lay it down. Finally, yesterday, I picked it up and began reading it again. I actually had to re-read parts just to remember what was going on. But...let me tell you, in spite of the seemingly slow start of this Slow start, great progression, amazing ending This is a new to me author. I love historical mysteries, so when I heard about this, I was instantly intrigued. I first picked up this book about two weeks ago and tried to read it. I only got about the first two chapters read, and then had to lay it down. Finally, yesterday, I picked it up and began reading it again. I actually had to re-read parts just to remember what was going on. But...let me tell you, in spite of the seemingly slow start of this book, once you're in it, you do NOT want to stop. I kept reading. And reading....and finally realized I'd have to just keep on until I would finish. (I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep with this story hanging over in my brain...lol) I enjoyed the characters, William, Edmund, and Obadiah. I liked seeing their methods of pursuing and solving this mystery. The whole plot line is really intriguing. A ship captain has a letter from the king giving him rights to take over other ships and bring home their spoils...only when he gets to the dock, his letter is mysteriously missing...??!! I had lots of ideas of what might have happened. I will not give any spoilers, because the book is absolutely amazing. I will say that my mind was going down some of the right tracks. But the journey of getting to the resolution was captivating and really fun to read. I would love to see more books in this series. I will definitely be finding more mysteries from this author! Disclaimer: I receive complimentary books from various sources, including, publishers, publicists, authors, and/or NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review, and have not received any compensation. The opinions shared here are my own entirely. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lifeofliterature

    Gripping from the very beginning, this novel takes interesting twists and turns that held my attention during the entire novel. This is my first book by this author, but I found that I greatly enjoyed his writing and his ability to create a complex plot with lots of components that tied together well. I liked that there were multiple voices (or point of views) in the novel, which allowed for a more complete overall picture of this very fascinating story. I thought the plot developed well and too Gripping from the very beginning, this novel takes interesting twists and turns that held my attention during the entire novel. This is my first book by this author, but I found that I greatly enjoyed his writing and his ability to create a complex plot with lots of components that tied together well. I liked that there were multiple voices (or point of views) in the novel, which allowed for a more complete overall picture of this very fascinating story. I thought the plot developed well and took the reader on quite a journey. The book shines with its focus on mystery. There are only hints of romance in the story. There are a few historical errors, but I could tell the author researched how courtrooms and law worked during Regency London. I liked this book a lot and will definitely read more by this author! I received a complimentary copy of this book from an Austen Prose tour with Laurel Ann Nattress. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This was an interesting read for me. The synopsis and cover caught my eye before it released and I added it to my TBR. The book started off with some elements that I wasn't fond of, and it is a bit slow in the beginning. I kept with it, and enjoyed it more the farther I got in it. The ending was excellent. Some of the things I didn't like early on were more than satisfactorily resolved in the end, which helped me to like the book even more. All things considered, glad I took a chance on this boo This was an interesting read for me. The synopsis and cover caught my eye before it released and I added it to my TBR. The book started off with some elements that I wasn't fond of, and it is a bit slow in the beginning. I kept with it, and enjoyed it more the farther I got in it. The ending was excellent. Some of the things I didn't like early on were more than satisfactorily resolved in the end, which helped me to like the book even more. All things considered, glad I took a chance on this book! It was worth the read!! I received this book from the publisher and was not required to post a positive review. All thoughts are my own.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paula Shreckhise

    This is the first historical book by this established author. He has described his protagonist, William Snopes as a bit Sherlock Holmes and a bit Rumpole of the Bailey. I think that is spot on. It even had me re-reading a few Sherlock stories and remembering how Rumpole and his creative ways of defense. Told from a Christian World View, Mr. Johnson immersed me in Regency London. He spun an intriguing tale of manipulation in high places. The barrister, Snopes, is an honorable man although somewha This is the first historical book by this established author. He has described his protagonist, William Snopes as a bit Sherlock Holmes and a bit Rumpole of the Bailey. I think that is spot on. It even had me re-reading a few Sherlock stories and remembering how Rumpole and his creative ways of defense. Told from a Christian World View, Mr. Johnson immersed me in Regency London. He spun an intriguing tale of manipulation in high places. The barrister, Snopes, is an honorable man although somewhat unorthodox when defending a client. He has a heart for the underdog and shuns his noble beginnings. He hesitates to take a case from Lady Madeleine Jamison but accepts and investigates what he perceives as a great injustice. The mystery takes us to all walks of life from seedy Whitechapel to the inner workings of Royal Government. Great historical information. I liked the dynamic between Snopes and his Junior barrister, Edmund and his solicitor, Obadiah, lads he has mentored. The way his mind is always humming a classical piece adds to his character. There is a hint of romance for good measure and also a possibility of more mystery stories in the future. I enjoyed this tale immensely and cannot wait for more. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House and BPH Open Book. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kailey

    This book was pretty good! I hadn’t heard of Todd M. Johnson before this book. I loved this mystery that he came up with. The beginning was a little slow and it did take me a little bit to get into the book. Once the story started picking up, it really took off. I liked all the different characters since it added depth to the story and let you see all the angles as you try to solve the mystery. I would definitely recommend this book! I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not r This book was pretty good! I hadn’t heard of Todd M. Johnson before this book. I loved this mystery that he came up with. The beginning was a little slow and it did take me a little bit to get into the book. Once the story started picking up, it really took off. I liked all the different characters since it added depth to the story and let you see all the angles as you try to solve the mystery. I would definitely recommend this book! I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Angie Boyter

    3+ Enjoyable story not too accurate in historical details The Barrister and the Letter of Marque is an enjoyable read combining three of my favorite subgenres of fiction. First of all, there is the historical setting in the early nineteenth century that provides a background of interesting elements like controversy over international trade and piracy and the social structure in England in that era. There are nice details, like the “penny dreadfuls” that were popular during the nineteenth century, 3+ Enjoyable story not too accurate in historical details The Barrister and the Letter of Marque is an enjoyable read combining three of my favorite subgenres of fiction. First of all, there is the historical setting in the early nineteenth century that provides a background of interesting elements like controversy over international trade and piracy and the social structure in England in that era. There are nice details, like the “penny dreadfuls” that were popular during the nineteenth century, but the setting just provides background for the story, so do not expect a history lesson takeaway. “Penny dreadfuls”, for example, were not a phenomenon until the 1830s, after the events of this book. Some real-life historical figures play roles in the book also that were purely fictional. The lack of accuracy of historical detail was my biggest disappointment in the book. It reminded me of my annoyance when I read a modern-day novel set in an era the 1990’s that has characters making widespread use of cell phones. Many people can recognize that inaccuracy today, not most do not know enough about the nineteenth century to identify the kinds of errors in this book. I am sure I did not see all of them. Second, although it is set in a period somewhat earlier than Dickens novels . there is a nice Dickensian flavor to the characters, such as the “canon” of young street children who pick pockets and undertake other illegal activities under the direction of a harsh taskmaster. Third, there is the barrister protagonist William Snopes, a worthy precursor of modern figures like Perry Mason, John Grisham’s lawyer characters, and even Andy Carpenter. His unusual techniques are quite effective at winning the case for his clients but do not make him popular with the judges or opposing barristers. On the other hand, William’s clever ruse early in the book to gain acquittal for his client, a young tinkerer accused of theft, made me chuckle and is sure to make him popular with other readers. At bottom, though, what matters is the plot, and Todd Johnson has woven an interesting story with nice plot twists. The reader soon learns that you never know who is telling the truth. There are some harsh events that seem, alas, appropriate to the society, but no graphic violence. And there is some light romance. Overall, it is a good story. I would read more from this author but would want more attention to accuracy of historical details. I received an advance review copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Trixi

    What I liked: William Snopes; a tenacious Barrister who's like a bulldog when it comes to digging up evidence to prove Captain Tuttle is innocent of piracy charges. He’s a staunch a defender of the underdog & reminded me a bit of Robin Hood. Lady Jameson; cousin of Captain Tuttle, who also invested in a merchant brig, The Padget, where he was accused of committing the crime. Distressed, she seeks the help of Mr. Snopes to challenge the charge against her cousin. What follows is a story quite twis What I liked: William Snopes; a tenacious Barrister who's like a bulldog when it comes to digging up evidence to prove Captain Tuttle is innocent of piracy charges. He’s a staunch a defender of the underdog & reminded me a bit of Robin Hood. Lady Jameson; cousin of Captain Tuttle, who also invested in a merchant brig, The Padget, where he was accused of committing the crime. Distressed, she seeks the help of Mr. Snopes to challenge the charge against her cousin. What follows is a story quite twisty, intriguing, and delves into the darker side of historic London. I loved the immersive atmosphere Johnson created throughout the pages that made me feel as if I were a part of it. What I didn't like: It seemed to drag on in the beginning & much more detailed than I care for in a book. I skimmed most of the first 50-60 percent or so to get to the meat of the story—the gathering of witnesses, the finding of evidence & finally the courtroom proceedings. Once I got past that hump, the story moved quite quickly and ended in a surprising way. This is no reflection on the author, for his writing is (as I had stated) immersive & atmospheric. In conclusion: If you like a good Sherlock Holmes mystery with some twists & turns, I think you would enjoy The Barrister and the Letter of Marque. I found the story concept interesting and watching Mr. Snopes in action both in & out of the courtroom. I especially loved the ending, surprising & stunning at the same time! *I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House and was not obligated to leave a favorable review. All opinions are mine. *

  30. 4 out of 5

    Suzie Waltner

    A Regency read with a Dickens-esque overtone, The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson is like nothing I’ve read before. And that’s a good thing. While most of this story is told from William Snopes’ POV, others (including some of the villains) are used to both increase the suspense and give readers little spoilers throughout. The anticipation is in waiting to find out how William will circumvent them. Perhaps due to his history, William uses his intelligence to enact justice wher A Regency read with a Dickens-esque overtone, The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson is like nothing I’ve read before. And that’s a good thing. While most of this story is told from William Snopes’ POV, others (including some of the villains) are used to both increase the suspense and give readers little spoilers throughout. The anticipation is in waiting to find out how William will circumvent them. Perhaps due to his history, William uses his intelligence to enact justice where warranted. As we see with his history with some of the street children, his heart is in the right place. Sometimes it’s good to step out of the comfort of our usual reads and discover new (or new to us) authors. I’m glad I took the gamble with The Barrister and the Letter of Marque. Disclosure statement: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

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