Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Target on My Back by Erleigh N. Wiley

A Target on My Back: A Prosecutor's Terrifying Tale of Life on a Hit List
Genre: True Crime
Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Pages: 176 with color photos

Murders don’t happen in Kaufman County, Texas, a sleepy community where people raise their kids quietly and drive into Dallas for work and entertainment. In 2013, murder came to town when two professional prosecutors were slain in cold blood, simply for doing their jobs: one in broad daylight in plain view of the courthouse, and one in his home, along with his wife. Eric Williams is responsible for all the bloodshed—and he has a list of who to kill next.

A Target on My Back is the first-person true story of Erleigh Wiley, an accomplished lawyer who accepted the job as the new district attorney—after the death of her predecessors—which turned her into the next target on the killer's hit list. This is her story of how she and her family endured the storm of the press, the array of Homeland Security agents assigned to protect them 24/7, and the weight of knowing she was someone’s prey. Though fearing for her life, she served as the prosecution's final witness against the murderer, sealing his fate on death row. This chilling account of how she survived the hit list is a terrifying cat and mouse tale.

“A legal thriller with a twist: a crazed lawyer and his wife, believing they have been wronged, become a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde and go on a terrifying murder spree. Next on their kill list is the new DA, and her courage in confronting the killers makes this a fascinating read.” ~​Dennis L. Breo, coauthor of The Crime of the Century: Richard Speck and the Murders That Shocked a Nation 

“John Grisham and Scott Turow had better start looking over their shoulders. . . Wiley’s engaging, nimble style immediately draws you into the action and proves that sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. It’s a good thing for us all that she lived to tell about it!” ~David Dean, Dallas attorney, former Texas secretary of state and chair of the North Texas Crime Commission

“When murder comes to her town, Erleigh Wiley steps into the shoes of the slain district attorney and finds herself on the killer’s hit list. In A Target on My Back, Wiley tells her personal story of overcoming fear in order to carry out her duty to hold Kaufman County, Texas, together while the killer is brought to justice. Don’t miss it!” ~​Mike Farris, author of A Death in the Islands: The Unwritten Law and the Last Trial of Clarence Darrow

“A Target on my Back is a unique first-person look into the world of crime-fighting in which the tables have been turned. The author takes the reader on an all-too-real journey into what it means to stand for justice when your very life is in danger. A must-read.
Robert Kepple, executive director of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars 

A Target on My Back: A Prosecutor's Terrifying Tale of Life on a Hit List is the true account of the murders of two district attorneys (D.A.) and the wife of one of those attorneys that occurred in Kaufman County, Texas. The story specifically focuses on how those murders affected the personal and professional life of the author, Erleigh N. Wiley, who was a judge at the time of the murders. 

The book is rather engaging in how Wiley retells the 2013 murders and subsequent events that happened over the course of about two years. As a result of the killings Judge Wiley acted boldly and applied for and assumed the position of district attorney in Kaufman County. She later testified in the trial of the killer. Living in north Texas during the time these events happened, I found the story to be very relatable. I remember this playing out in the media, and it was nice to get an inside, behind-the-scenes perspective. Judge Wiley is definitely a consummate professional and smart as a whip. I also enjoyed the relationship she shares with her husband, Aaron, who is also an attorney. 

The hardback copy of the book includes an insert of four pages with color photos that feature Judge Wiley, her family, as well as the victims, the convicted killer and his accomplice. A Target on My Back is rather short and is a fairly quick read. However, I did get a little bogged down with the back and forth in the timeline at the beginning of the story. I didn't understand why the author opened chapter one with the murders of D.A. Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia McLelland when they were murdered two months after the first victim, D.A. Mark Hasse. 

While I understand the story is about Judge Wiley and how her life (and the life of her husband and children) was turned upside-down, I think the title of the book is a bit over-dramatized. There wasn't a physical "hit list" so to speak, and she didn't find out about who the killer was targeting until after he was in custody. Additionally, I felt that sometimes she, as the author, exacerbated the negative professional and personal effects of her being an African-American, a woman, and a Republican. As a female African American professional myself, I choose to accept these labels as strength rather than stumbling blocks, and I would have appreciated seeing more of that in Judge Wiley's story. 

Finally, the book was fraught with errors due to what appears to be lax editing. There are also some stylistic inconsistencies, such as the author referring to a "Court Coordinator" on one page and the same "court coordinator" on the very next page. 

Recommendation: A Target on My Back is a legal thriller that fans of Law & Order might enjoy. The gem is that it's not ripped from the headlines. This story was the headline for residents in Kaufman County for many months!  

(Note: I intentionally did not name the convicted murderer in my review.) 

Until next time ... Read on!

Erleigh Norville Wiley was born and raised in Kaufman County. She is a graduate of Texas Tech University, Rawls College of Business; where she received a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree with a degree in Finance. She attended law school at Texas Law at The University of Texas in Austin receiving her Doctor of Jurisprudence.

In 1990, Judge Wiley joined the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. Her goal was to prosecute the criminals and protect innocent children and victims who have no voice. She was promoted to supervising attorney-training other new attorneys and managing fourteen different courts

Wiley takes an active role in her community by volunteering. Some of her board work includes Chairman of the Kaufman County Juvenile Board, Trustee of Texas Health Resources- Kaufman, Kaufman County Children’s Advocacy Center and Kaufman County Children’s Shelter Board member.

Wiley has been lauded by various organizations for her work in the legal community as a Judge and as the Criminal District Attorney in Kaufman County. Some of the most notable were in 2013, from the State Bar of Texas, Outstanding Leadership-Profiles of Courage Award and Texas District & County Attorney’s Association, Lone Star Prosecutor Award; as well as the Dallas Black Police Officer’s Association with the Paved the Way Award in 2015.

Five readers each win a print copy of A Target on My Back, plus a signed book plate, and bookmark!
March 16-25, 2018
(U.S. Only)

16-Mar Excerpt Chapter Break Book Blog   
16-Mar Bonus Post Hall Ways Blog
17-Mar Review Missus Gonzo  
18-Mar Author Interview Texas Book Lover
19-Mar Review Nerd Narration 
20-Mar Author on Video Books and Broomsticks
21-Mar Author on Video The Page Unbound 
22-Mar Review StoreyBook Reviews  
23-Mar Author on Video Reading by Moonlight
24-Mar Author Interview The Clueless Gent 
25-Mar Review A Page Before Bedtime (You are here)  

1 comment:

  1. Great review -- thank you for telling us about both the strengths and weaknesses of the book.