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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Blood is Black

Narrator: Bailey Carr

Audible Originals 🎧

Series: Presley Carter #1


Publisher: Phoenix Flying Inc.

Publication Date: 04/01/2023

Format: e-book & audio & paperback

My Rating: 5 Stars

From Scott Pratt, the Wall Street Journal and Amazon bestselling author of the beloved Joe Dillard Series, comes the first installment in a fresh new series featuring Presley Carter, a tenacious southern heroine.

Lonnie Black, a man with a dark and dangerous past, has just been elected as the new Governor of the state of Tennessee.

Shortly after he takes office, some of the state’s most heinous and vile criminals see their sentences commuted to time served, releasing dangerous predators onto a vulnerable public.

Presley Carter is a bright, hungry young defense attorney plying her trade in the areas in and around Nashville. Though she’s haunted by a horrifying event from her past, she’s achieved local renown as a savvy, resourceful lawyer adept at handling – and winning - tough cases. After being approached to file a clemency petition by a father whose son committed a gruesome double-murder, Presley reluctantly agrees to file the document, knowing full well the request has no chance of being granted. When she receives a phone call informing her the convict’s release has been approved, however, she’s shocked to learn she’s been unwittingly drawn into an evil scheme that could reach as high as the halls of the state capitol. Presley must then make a difficult choice. Should she stand idly by and allow a shadowy syndicate of corruption to fester in her backyard? Or should she follow in her father’s footsteps and take a stand, placing her in the crosshairs of one of the most vicious, powerful men the state has ever seen?

Will Presley be able to uphold the righteousness of her beloved justice system? Or will the weight of a diseased and brutal criminal organization crush her along with those she loves?

Blood is Black is an addictive thriller filled with heart that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and Presley Carter is destined to become one of the most beloved heroines in the genre.

Scott Pratt’s work has been published in a dozen languages, and his books have sold more than six million copies worldwide.

My Review

Bestselling acclaimed author of the popular Joe Dillard legal series, Scott Pratt, returns with his latest new knockout riveting series, Presley Carter #1 —BLOOD IS BLACK —featuring an unstoppable tenacious strong female Southern attorney—a highly relatable heroine who will stop at nothing to take down a corrupt judge and everyone connected in a man's world.

As you can see, when I love a book, I get very wordy. I have much to discuss.

As the book opens:

Meet Presley Myers at twelve. She is not asleep on a Wednesday and hears her younger brother, Aaron, across the hall breathing, sound asleep.

She gets up to go to the restroom and sees her mother turn out the light in the parent's bedroom. She walks over to the top of the steps and notices a dim light beneath the door of her father's study. Her dad, William Myers (Bill), is a lawyer who practices criminal defense and often works late.

A little after 2:00 am, she hears footsteps on the wooden deck outside the front door. The footsteps move in the direction of her dad's study. She hears the muffled voices of her dad and a man. She creeps down the stairs and hears a gun blast—One shot. She freezes. She sees a man wearing a long black coat and a ski mask walking out of his office. She is standing there and fears he will shoot her next. But nothing.

He walks over and pats her on the head. She sees his eyes: one bright blue and the other brown. Taking her life as she knows it with him. He walks out of the house.

In real life, blood isn't RED at all. In real life, it is BLACK. She is alive, and her father is dead. There is nothing she can do about it.

Part One—Twenty Years Later.

Franklin, Tennessee: Presley is now a successful criminal defense attorney. She just turned 32 and has made a name for herself around Nashville—not on her father's level, but she was working on it. There was his legacy to uphold. A legacy she was obsessed with preserving and hopefully building upon. She even kept her maiden name when she married Mack.

After the murder of her father, she no longer saw through a child's eyes but saw the world: a chaotic, cruel place where no one was safe. Not even at home. So for the past 20 yrs, she put her head down, finished first in her class at Vanderbilt Law, started a successful firm, and carried her father's torch.

She and Mack, her husband, loved one another unconditionally. He was there for her when she kept her maiden name for her law career. He had been there when her brother Aaron fell hard into drugs and alcohol, and he was there when she discovered she could not bear children. She was relieved since she never wanted kids after her father's murder.

Mack was the Sherriff, and she was a criminal defense attorney. They made a great team. They were life partners and had a passion for one another, and they respected each other and their respective careers. She had a little bungalow office they purchased and kept no personal photos out in her office.

What begins as a series of deadly events, Pressley, after being approached to file a clemency petition by a father whose son committed a gruesome double-murder, Presley reluctantly agrees to file the document, knowing full well the request has no chance of being granted.

When she receives a phone call informing her the convict's release is approved, she's shocked to learn she's been unwittingly drawn into an evil scheme that could reach as high as the halls of the state capitol. Presley must then make a difficult choice.

Lonnie Black, a man with a dark and dangerous past, has just been elected as the new Governor of Tennessee. Shortly after he takes office, some of the state's most heinous and vile criminals see their sentences commuted to time served, releasing dangerous predators onto a vulnerable public. Could a sitting governor run a criminal conspiracy from his office?

Shortly after that, the Governor gave executive clemency to ten more prisoners in two weeks. Then one of her clients, the girlfriend, decides to wear a wire, which turns deadly for both the client and his girlfriend. There appears to be a leak, and her office is bugged—the Governor has an entire team of goons working with him.

The only way to get to this Governor is from the other side. Mack is friends with Dan Smith, the US Attorney in Nashville. They discussed Presley becoming a federal prosecutor. Mack explained that she could not tackle him as a defense attorney, and Dan was willing to give her the job. She could work with the FBI on the Black case.

She would put people in jail instead of helping them stay out.

She hates office politics but would have the federal government's power behind her. She agrees to start after her murder trial and will take Cheri, her assistant.

Part II

She would have agreed to work for free to have a shot a Governor Black! When he discovered she had become a federal prosecutor, he screamed, "witch hunt"—they were out to get him.

With a special investigative grand jury, they would hear the evidence regarding Black and his co-conspirators. The war was on, and he threatened her, but she was more determined after killing the couple. But Lonnie knows how to launder dirty money. He owned car dealerships. He is a crooked politician and speaks of the prisons being too crowded, the inmates being sorry for their sins, etc.

Pressley lived in the war room going through files and boxes seized in the raids, but she needed a smoking gun. She needs one piece of evidence. She cannot wait on the FBI.

Dobb Cole and wife, Cazzie —she would visit the convicted murderer dressed as someone else, undercover as Star—wig and all. She got the number to help pretend to get her man out of prison. They have two children.

Will her plan work, or will it backfire? Black had used her, and she was determined to get him, no matter what. But it all goes up in smoke, and now four people are dead. Black is a murderer. They need proof. She feels she has blood on her hands. These people were only trying to help.

But now they say she could have compromised the entire investigation, and a family has been murdered. Soon she is no longer an Assistant US Attorney. Had Black and his goons won?

Then she meets Sheryl Lee Everett. (she is hilarious!) Sister of Cole, Aunt of the Cole kids. She wants to go undercover. Governor Black and his cronies were still at it, soliciting executive releases for cash, even calling the sister of a man they had likely murdered. They said they could get John out of prison; she has insurance money. Paying for a federal release is a federal crime. She is all in.

Pressley is nervous about her wearing a wire. It is dangerous, but Sheryl wants to take down the Governor and get her man out of prison, but Pressley needs someone who wishes for Black behind bars as bad as she did—Agent Beard. They decided to keep it from Smith until they had evidence.

Black's guy, Chuck, was a total creep and slimy demanding sexual favors. (I loved Sherl getting the jump on old Chuck). She is smart and tough. Since Smith had fired Pressley, he could not keep tabs on her, but he needed to get back to running the state and collecting bribes for clemency and extortion without any inference.

Agent Beard and Pressley are the only ones who know this is going down. She tells Mack of her plans with Sheryl, but he is upset. Will Sheryl pull this off with Biney Beals (dangerous), without putting herself and others in danger? In the meantime, Mack, as Sherriff, is caught up in trouble in another perilous case.

Pressley must save Sheryl. Did Black have a mole in the bureau? How many more people will die to bring Black and his criminal administration to justice? Had Pressley lost, and Black got away with more crimes?

Part III

Presley will not give up. She wanted to hunt again, and it was time to return to being the wolf. Can she resume her place again with the discovery of Zeke Gibson.

Who is the mole, and who is helping Governor Black on the inside? Who else in authority is on his payroll? Then they find out the Governor is forcing businesses to pay illegal fees to him and percentages of total sales each month with bribes, murder, and more. He is preying on desperate innocent victims.

She may have to let one bee go to take down the queen and the entire hive.

From greed and power, Black's goons are moving in on Mack and Presley Carter, but will they be one step ahead with their plan? Will he go to trial and be convicted? How many more people will die before they put him behind bars? Will Presley win? Will she push too hard? Had she gotten too close?

Will she risk her life to keep her father's memory alive?

She is Presley Carter, a lawyer, sister, wife, daughter, and friend.


Fast-paced and full of action, Presley Carter is a kick-ass attorney, and I loved her with her hubby, Mack. What a heroine! She is not afraid to take chances and has a heart of gold.

Pratt expertly crafts a cast of well-developed characters (good and evil), combining a smart cop procedural and legal action with award-winning courtroom drama and a twisty plot while blending in personal lives to round out this superbly written, exceptional crime legal thriller with heart.

Oh, and NO spoilers here, but it is Christmas time—The EPILOGUE cliffhanger will leave your jaw dropping and counting the days until Presley Carter #2. Please tell me if it is 2024 or sooner. We meet her mom and her mom's new boyfriend, AND Colter and DJ Cole!

OMG! are we going to find out the identity of the murderer of Presley's dad? I am dying for the next in the series. Spine-chilling! Those eyes... Please hurry!

HOLD ON: We will get Joe Dillard #10 coming June 1, 2023, Last Resort: A New Joe Dillard Novel. LOVED. This will tide me over until Pratt's Presley Carter's next book.

Legal crime thrillers are my favorites, and Pratt is one of the BEST— right up there with Grisham, Tutterow, Connley, and Lescroart. I had forgotten how much I loved his writing, and this one brought it front and center.

For fans of Karin Slaughter, Lisa Gardner, Michael Connelly, and John Grisham. (all favs) Highly recommend this new series to anyone who loves intelligent, sophisticated, and smartly written legal suspense thrillers with characters you both love and despise and a strong, likable heroine you will root for.

I purchased the e-book, paperback, and audiobook narrated by Bailey Carr, Audible Originals, for an outstanding performance! BLOOD IS BLACK would make for an excellent book club pick. I want a TV series or movie. 🎬 What a fabulous new series!

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars ++

Pub Date: April 1, 2023


About the Author

Photo Credit: Dwain M. Rowe

SCOTT PRATT is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author whose books have sold more than six million copies. He was born in South Haven, Michigan, and grew up in Jonesborough, Tennessee. He was a veteran of the United States Air Force and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from East Tennessee State University and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee.


An Innocent Client

In Good Faith

Injustice for All

Reasonable Fear

Conflict of Interest

Blood Money

A Crime of Passion

Judgment Cometh (And That Right Soon)

Due Process

Last Resort (Coming Summer 2023)


Justice Redeemed

Justice Burning

Justice Lost


Blood is Black


Deep Threat

Divine Strike


Break Point

Out of Bounds


The Sins of the Mother


River on Fire


An Elephant's Standing in There

A Ride on a Cloud



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