Blog Tour: Final Term, Leigh Russell

Book Review: Final Term, A Geraldine Steel Mystery, Leigh Russell

Final Term, A Geraldine Steel Mystery, Leigh Russell

Mystery: Final Term, A Geraldine Steel Mystery, Leigh Russell

Blog Tour February 6, 2023


Cassie is trouble and troubled. A teenager with more issues than a daily newspaper, she is pretty enough and bold enough to manipulate boys into giving her what she wants. She has decided that what she wants, though, is not something another teenager can give her. So she enters teacher Paul Moore’s classroom between classes, sets him up for a sexual abuse accusation, and makes a show of things when students arrive for the next class. She gets her wish, Mr. Moore is suspended indefinitely during the investigation, and Cassie enjoys her newfound sense of power.


Unfortunately for her, that sense of power only lasts for a few days. Her body is found in a nearby park. Strangled and beaten, Cassie’s issues have come to an end. And detective Geraldine Steel’s have just begun.


The obvious suspect is Paul Moore. Not only does he have motive, he has no alibi for the time of the murder. Steel can’t help but think that Moore does not make sense as the killer, though. His only chance of reinstatement was to hope Cassie would recant her story. Dead accusers can’t do that.


Leigh Russell has been through multiple investigations with detective Steel and her colleague (and lover) detective Ian Peterson. Her protagonist is a dogged investigator who refuses to make assumptions and insists on considering all possibilities. This is very good news for those accused of a crime who are not guilty. It is very bad news for those who are guilty. And it is quite frustrating to superiors who want to close cases.


I will admit to a certain uneasiness with the plot device of a teenage girl making up an accusation of sexual assault by a teacher. In the United States (and I suspect around much of the world) there are thousands of cases of actual abuse on the part of teachers, mentors, church leaders, even family and parents. The problem we see in my country is very seldom false accusations. It is much more likely that accusers are ignored, derided, blamed, and revictimized in the unlikely event that charges are brought against their abusers. 


Can it happen? Of course. Has it happened? Yes. Does it make for a compelling story? Of course. It just made this one reader feel uncomfortable. And to be completely fair, Russell does make it part of a larger story about the victim and those around her who failed her, who misused her, who despised her, and who betrayed her. The reality is, there are a lot of Cassies out there who need help and compassion and direction. The challenge is that so many are so damaged that all the help and compassion and direction in the world is not enough to save them.


Our thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things for our copy of Final Term, provided so that we could review it for this blog tour. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives on this novel, please check out the other bloggers on this tour.


Final Term, A Geraldine Steel Mystery, Leigh Russell

Book Review: Final Term, A Geraldine Steel Mystery, Leigh Russell

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