Book Review: Stay of Execution by: Kellie Larsen Murphy

Publication Date: March 5, 2015

Origins:  From Author for Review

Synopsis: Little Springs was just a small college town, the kind of town where everyone knew everyone and violent crime was nonexistent—until a series of rapes and murders at the college. After an outbreak of fear and hysteria, only the arrest and conviction of Leo Spradlin, the "Co-Ed Killer," could end the terror.

Years later, Spradlin is suddenly cleared based on unshakable DNA evidence, and no one is more surprised than Detective Mike Cancini. As new questions surround the identity of the true "Co-Ed Killer," Cancini struggles to accept his role in the conviction of an innocent man. Suspicions mount when Spradlin’s release coincides with a fresh wave of rapes and murders at the college, eerily reminiscent of the original crimes. Cancini is drawn back to Little Springs, caught in a race against time to uncover the identity of the latest "Co-Ed Killer" before the next girl dies…

A tension-filled psychological mystery, Stay of Execution is also a novel about loyalty, deceit, and the darker side of truth. 

Review: In STAY OF EXECUTION, the town of Little Springs breathed a sigh of relief when Leo Spradlin, the so-called ‘Co-Ed Killer’, was locked up for a series of heinous rape-murders. However, years later due to one a group like the Innocence Project, the DNA evidence was re-examined and Leo Spradlin was cleared of involvement in the crimes. Spradlin is released and instead of moving to another town, he goes back to Little Springs, where he is definitely not wanted. Detective Mike Cancini who was a rookie when the ‘Co-Ed Killer’ was active and was instrumental in Spradlin’s capture has also come back to Little Springs. Cancini is not convinced of Spradlin’s innocence, no matter what the DNA evidence has to say. Once Spradlin is pardoned and released, the rape-murders start up again convincing a lot of towns people Spradlin’s not as innocent as he and the evidence state. Cancini decides it’s up to him to find the evidence to finally solve the ‘Co-Ed Killer’ murders once and for all. STAY OF EXECUTION is a well-paced and well-written mystery novel. The characters were fully fleshed out and the author truly captured the atmosphere of a town gripped by fear and panic. The evidence of the previous murders and the new murders were described in such a way to be informative, but not overly gory. STAY OF EXECUTION is written in multiple voices, which actually works very well. I enjoyed STAY OF EXECUTION better than the first book in the Detective Mike Cancini series, A GUILTY MIND, as the writing was sharper and the characters much more well-rounded.

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