By Way of Sorrow and Survivor’s Guilt
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Attorney and activist Robyn Gigl tackles the complexities of gender, race, power and public perception in By Way of Sorrow, a gripping debut legal thriller with a ripped-from-the-headlines plot and a unique protagonist who, like the author herself, is a transgender attorney.
Erin McCabe is a criminal defense lawyer doing her best to live a quiet life in the wake of profound personal change. But when a young, Black, transgender prostitute is accused of murdering a wealthy politician’s son, Erin feels duty-bound to defend her – even if it puts her career and life in jeopardy…
Four months ago, William E. Townsend, Jr., son of a New Jersey State Senator, was found fatally stabbed in a rundown motel near Atlantic City. Sharise Barnes, a nineteen-year-old transgender prostitute, is in custody, and given the evidence against her, there seems little doubt of a guilty verdict.
Erin knows that defending Sharise will blow her own private life wide open, and doubtless deepen her estrangement from her family. Yet as a trans woman, she feels uniquely qualified to help Sharise, and duty-bound to protect her from the possibility of a death sentence.
Sharise claims she killed the senator’s son in self-defense. As Erin assembles the case with her partner, former FBI agent Duane Swisher, the circumstances hint at a more complex and chilling story with ties to other brutal murders. Senator Townsend is using the full force of his prestige and connections to publicly discredit everyone involved in defending Sharise. Behind the scenes, his tactics are even more dangerous. His son had secrets that could destroy the senator’s political aspirations—secrets worth killing for. And as leads begin mysteriously disappearing, it’s not just the life of Erin’s client at stake, but her own…
Praise for BY WAY of SORROW
“Emotionally resonant…Gigl is too astute and compassionate a writer to create cartoon villainy out of anti-trans attitudes…quietly groundbreaking.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Readers will find that By Way of Sorrow is a compulsively riveting page-turner with a complex heroine, a captivating plot, and no easy answers. It’s one of the best thrillers of the year.” — Mystery Scene
“Gigl, a transgender lawyer herself, provides provocative insights into the legal system and the challenges of gender identity.” —Booklist
“An intelligent and resourceful protagonist with an unusual backstory… Erin’s ability to navigate the intricacies of the law is just as fascinating as the subsequent perils she encounters. Gigl, an attorney, offers some enlightening insights into the workings of the legal world.”—Publishers Weekly
“Gigl’s accomplishment here is to parse the serious flaws with the legal system … by way of subtle characterization and seamless plotting. In less skillful hands, we might get melodrama or a polemic; here, we get engrossing originality—and a brilliant point in a larger argument for the benefits of greater representation in our beloved genre.” —Lambda Literary
“For those of us hungry for characters that look more like us …the author provides a moveable feast of very human souls…By Way of Sorrow is a page turner extraordinaire, and there is already a sequel in the works from Robyn Gigl. Yup, it’s THAT good!’ —Out in New Jersey
“This enthralling series debut features a twisty plot full of surprises and a cast of exciting characters—most notably, tough and relatable defense-attorney Erin McCabe—all while diving into the mud of corrupt local politics. An original legal thriller that is sure to be among the year’s best!” —Edwin Hill, author of The Missing Ones
“Robyn Gigl has delivered a compelling, provocative legal thriller like no other. It’s addictive as hell, one of those ‘just one more chapter’ books that keep you reading late into the night. Topical and fast-paced, By Way of Sorrow grabs you on the very first page with a brutal murder, and then sends you on a twist-filled thrill-ride that doesn’t let up until the startling finale. Gigl introduces a new kind of heroine with attorney Erin McCabe—she’s brilliant, resourceful, a little vulnerable and completely unique. Bravo! Is it too soon to ask when we can expect the next Erin McCabe thriller?” —Kevin O’Brien, New YorkTimes bestselling author of The Bad Sister
“Robyn Gigl’s By Way of Sorrow is a taut, engaging, page-turner with a lot of heart. Lawyer Erin McCabe and her law partner Duane Swisher are on the case of a transgender teen accused of murdering the scion of a ruthless politician bent on burying the case, and the accused, at all costs. A good read. McCabe’s a protagonist with a lot of depth. Two thumbs up for Gigl.” —Tracy Clark, author of What You Don’t See
Praise for Survivor’s Guilt
Robyn Gigl tackles the complexities of power, public perception, and human trafficking with a ripped-from-the-headlines plot in her second legal thriller featuring Erin McCabe, a protagonist who, like the author, is a transgender attorney. Now she and her law partner are drawn into a dark world of offshore bank accounts, computer hacking, murder, and the devastating impact of sexual abuse…
At first, the death of millionaire businessman Charles Parsons seems like a straightforward suicide. There’s no sign of forced entry or struggle in his lavish New Jersey mansion—just a single gunshot wound from his own weapon. But days later, a different story emerges. Computer techs pick up a voice recording that incriminates Parsons’ adoptive daughter, Ann, who duly confesses and pleads guilty.
Erin McCabe has little interest in reviewing such a slam-dunk case—even after she has a mysterious meeting with one of the investigating detectives, who reveals that Ann, like Erin, is a trans woman. Yet despite their misgivings, Erin and her law partner, Duane Swisher, ultimately can’t ignore the pieces that don’t fit.
As their investigation deepens, Erin and Swish convince Ann to withdraw her guilty plea. But Ann clearly knows more than she’s willing to share, even if it means a life sentence. Who is she protecting, and why?
Fighting against time and a prosecutor hell-bent on notching another conviction, the two work tirelessly—Erin inside the courtroom, Swish in the field—to clear Ann’s name. But despite Parsons’ former associates’ determination to keep his—and their own—illegal activities buried, a horrifying truth emerges—a web of human exploitation, unchecked greed, and murder. Soon, a quest to see justice served becomes a desperate struggle to survive…
Praise for SURVIVOR’S GUILT
“I was mightily impressed with Robyn Gigl’s debut, ‘By Way of Sorrow‘ . . . but Gigl’s second outing, SURVIVOR’S GUILT, is even better. A groundbreaking series — Erin is trans, one of precious few in crime fiction — now stands to become a definitive one. Gigl is especially gifted at writing razor-sharp, compulsively readable courtroom scenes, something that sinks many legal thriller authors. – New York Times – Best Crime Novels of 2022
“Robyn Gigl’s SURVIVOR’S GUILT is so good that it may end up counting among this year’s standouts…A groundbreaking series is poised to become a definitive one.” – New York Times
“Stunning…Gigl delightfully flips the usual terms of the genre with a murder victim readers are quickly drawn to hate and a murderer whom they will be rooting for. Her takes on big questions of justice, revenge, and the nature of victimhood will resonate with many” – Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW
“Another great merger of legal mystery and psychological thriller.” – CrimeReads