Joanna Mitchell Series Review



Author: Barbara Winkes
Genre: Crime, Thriller, LGBTQ+

Joanna could keep silent, or pull the trigger and risk losing everying…”

What would you do if a murderer was right in front of you and the system isn’t bringing them down? Do you enact your own version of justice or let them go? Joanna Mitchell faced that very situation… and pulled the trigger and lost everything. She lives bottle to bottle, woman to woman – nothing permanent or worthy. Until a fresh case pulls her back into the fold, forcing her to face her demons.

Barbara Winkes creates a compelling trilogy that pulls you in from page one and refuses to let go until you’ve finished all three books.

Other reviewers all mention the crispness of the writing, twists and much much more as reasons to give this trilogy a chance. I concur. Winkes’ Joanna Mitchell trilogy provides all of those positives and more.

Yet, there was something that flew off the page beyond the mystery. It was Joanna’s redemption storyline. From page one of Killer Instinct we learn she played judge, jury, and executioner. After serving her time in prison, she now holds a job in a warehouse trying to keep her nose clean. When not working, Joanna buries her demons in alcohol with her friend Vanessa at a dive bar. The two argue like sisters, but Vanessa sees through the self-destructive behavior. It leads to a chance meeting… that causes so much upheaval and darkness to enter Joanna’s world. Like a self-actualizing prophecy, Joanna must face her mistakes from years prior and the one just a day or so ago. This is step one in her redemption.

Then there is Rue, a woman that seems to break through all of Joanna’s barriers with ease. A new variable in Joanna’s equation that throws everything off. A beautiful woman falling for this broken shell of a human being seems so impossible that Joanna struggles with it. Yet, it is step two in Joanna’s transformation. To accept she is worthy of love in return.

In Exit Strategy and Original Sin Joanna continues to struggle on her path toward redemption. She lives in peace, trying to stay away from the crimes of her past – almost avoiding it. Yet, once again, she’s pulled back in by unknown forces. You cannot outrun your past, your family, the things that haunt you… and Joanna is no different. For step three, she faces the pieces of her past she thought she left behind. She fights back for herself and Rue for the future they want to have.

The series is an intriguing set of mystery, crimes, and deception – but the redemption, to me, was the most powerful part. The way Barbara Winkes showcases the stages of grief, the steps to get back to feeling human, and the mental struggles those actions encompass – is nothing short of outstanding. This series is so much more than a thriller trilogy, it is a psychological study in humanity and the mind’s ability to heal.

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Kimberly Amato is the author of the Jasmine Steele Mystery Series and Enemy. Having won awards for a TV Pilot she co-wrote & produced, she dove headfirst into writing novels. Always creating, jotting down new ideas & unafraid to try new genres, Kimberly writes mysteries, crime, romance, sci-fi & more. Beyond that, she's a podcaster with her wife, Sheila, for the show Forever Fangirls reviewing TV and films on streaming services and in theaters.