Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Retarded Girl Raised in Dog Pen (+Giveaway)

Retarded Girl Raised in Dog Pen coverIt’s my pleasure to be participating in a Book Publicity Services blog tour for author Lauren Leigh’s spellbinding murder mystery, RETARDED GIRL RAISED IN DOG PEN.

As part of this stop, I’ll share my thoughts on this fascinating book and Lauren is sharing an excerpt for your reading pleasure. In addition, thanks to Lauren and the lovely Kelsey at Book Publicity Services, I have Kindle copy of the book to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for details.

At times I found it hard to read RETARDED GIRL RAISED IN DOG PEN. It had nothing to do with the author’s writing or style. In fact, the author’s way with words made it so realistic is why it was hard.

The cruel punishment and abuse woven throughout the story made my heart ache. But to balance out the author also included tender moments of love and compassion. One can only hope abuse to this extreme doesn’t exist, but at the same time it’s a harsh reminder that the world contains cruel people and some of them are in places of authority.

Adopted the day of her birth, Baby’s new parents – Rivers and Angus – discover she is blind. In time they also find out she is unable to speak, paralyzed from the waist down, and diagnosed with developmental and intellectual disabilities. While Rivers tries to show Baby love and kindness, Angus has more love for his bird dogs than he does for his new daughter. At the hands of Angus, Baby is placed outside in the dog pen where she lives. Angus, a Mississippi deputy sheriff, also constantly abuses Rivers.

When Angus is found brutally murdered, Rivers is arrested and Baby is placed in an institution. The story takes an unusual turn when Rivers is sentenced to death. Professionals discover Baby can communicate and may hold the key to who really killed her father.

As the minutes tick down to Rivers’ execution, a psychologist scrambles to unlock the mystery of what Baby knows. The story deals with abuse, struggles faced by individuals with disabilities, and the inner workings of mental institutions.

RETARDED GIRL RAISED IN DOG PEN is a stirring murder mystery that will tug on your heart strings and enrage your sense of justice. It’s a riveting story that will hold you captive until the very end.

Retarded Girl Raised in Dog Pen by Lauren Leigh, Sartoris Literary Group, @2014, ISBN: 978-0991374540, Paperback, 262 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the book promoter in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


Lauren Leigh is a mental health professional who has devoted her life to working with individuals with intellectual disabilities. This is her first novel.


      When Thad Vanderbilt arrived at the county jail, he was eating a hamburger that he’d picked up at the drive-through window of a fast-food restaurant. He took bites of the burger and sips from a cup filled with iced tea as he walked into the building and asked to meet with Rivers in a private conference room.
      As she walked in the door, he was in the process of wadding up the paper wrapping around the burger. He tossed it into a nearby trash can and then took a sip from the cup, gurgling the last few drops from the bottom of the cup before discarding it. Left behind was a touch of mayo that stuck about an inch from the corner of his mouth. Rivers noticed it, but said nothing, not really caring whether her lawyer looked foolish or not.
      Thad stood and extended his hand as she approached the table and sat in a folding chair. His fingers felt damp from the soft drink cup, and she wiped her hand against her jumpsuit.
      “I’m Thad Vanderbilt,” he said. “I’ve seen you around town, but I don’t think we’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.”
      “I’ve seen you in your convertible.”
      Thad laughed. “Yes, and it will be paid for in another three years, just in time to trade it in for a new one.”
      Rivers didn’t think that was funny and she did not respond with a laugh of her own.
      Thad looked at a legal pad, reading over his scribbled notes.
      “I see your husband was a deputy.”
      Rivers nodded.
      “And you have a little girl named Baby. Is that correct?”
      “Yes. Have you seen her?”
      “No, I haven’t. I understand she was taken away and placed at Silverstone Retardation Center.”
      “That’s what the sheriff told me.”
      “She’ll be well taken care of there.”
      “I hope so. She’s not used to strangers.”
      “They are used to people like her.”
      “What do you mean, people like her?”
      “You know, retarded.”
      “How do you want to plead on this?”
      “What do you mean?”
      “Guilty or not guilty.”
      Rivers didn’t answer, sort of drifted away, lost in thought.
      “Did you hear me?”
      “Guilty or not guilty?”
      “What’s the difference?”
      “If you plead guilty, there is no trial and the judge decides your sentence. If you plead not guilty, you go to trial and listen to people say a lot of bad things about you, and then the jury decides if you are guilty or not guilty, and then, if you are guilty, they pass sentence.”
      “And if the jury decides I am not guilty?”
      “Then they send you home.”
      “In that case, who goes to prison?”
      “The prosecutor will decide if there is someone else he wants to prosecute. If there is, then he will go after them and try to get a conviction.
      “So what do you want to do?”
      “Did the sheriff give you any information about Angus?”
      “I don’t understand.”
      “Did the sheriff give you any details about what happened to him?”
      “Would you mind telling me what you know?”
      “No problem.” He looked over his notes. “OK. They found his body yesterday, buried along the tree line of your property, about fifty yards from the dog pen.”
      “Did he look upset?”
      “Excuse me?”
      “Did it look like he was upset over being dead?”
      Thad paused again, this time to collect his thoughts. “Ma’am, when you’re dead I don’t think you necessarily look upset or not upset.”
      “I see.” She lowered her eyes, looking down at her lap, where her fingers were intertwined in a knot. “Does it say anything about how he died?”
      “Yes, ma’am, it says he was struck in the chest with an ax.”
      “That all?”
      “No, it says he was hacked on a little bit.”
      “Do they have the ax?”
      “Apparently, it was buried with him.”
      Rivers sat quietly for a while. Then she put her hand on her chest, feeling her thumping heart. “Would you mind seeing after the burial?”
      “That’s not really what I do.”
      “Baby and I are the only family he’s got. If not you, then who?”
      “Ma’am, you’ve put me on the spot.”
      “I know that.”
      Thad doodled on his legal pad as he struggled with her request. He had moved to Murphy County from Memphis, where lawyers played by a different set of rules. In Memphis, her request would have been laughed at, but not in a rural community where everyone knows everyone else, or if they don’t, they know of them or have heard stories about them.
      “That’s not something I usually do,” he said. “But I’ll make an exception in your case.”
      “Thank you.”
      “But you still haven’t answered me.”
      “About what?”
      “About your plea.”
      “Can I decide what goes on the tombstone?”
      “I don’t know for sure, but assume that would not be a problem. You are his wife.”
      “Will there be flowers?”
      “Yes—if I have to send them myself.”
      “That’s nice.”
      “I don’t mean to be rude, ma’am, but I need to know your plea.”
      Rivers looked up, as if searching for the answer on the ceiling. Inexplicably, a serene look appeared on her face. “What will happen to me if I plead guilty?”
      “It is a capital offense to kill a police officer, so the penalty would be death by injection.”
      “I see.”
      “Is that what you would like to do?”
      “Yes, I believe it is.”


This giveaway is for one Kindle version of RETARDED GIRL RAISED IN DOG PEN. It will be gifted through Amazon. The giveaway will end on Wednesday, May 14. To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. It may take a few seconds for the widget to load, please be patient.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have you found books that are hard to read emotionally, but you can’t put them down until you know what happened?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I have had that experience with some books, the original Sybil comes to mind, but I never really contemplate not finishing. In my view plenty of things in life are difficult or distasteful but they don't go away just because we refuse to look. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book.

  2. That would be an incredibly difficult read. Monsters like that really do exist in the world though.

  3. I was a foster parent for four years, and the stories I heard were sickening. That Baby's father is a sheriff doesn't surprise me at all.

  4. Mason - It's so hard to believe that such awfulness exists in the world, but it does. There are some sickening people out there. It's good to hear though that this novel also has some positive characters too.

  5. sounds like a very very tough story!

  6. Even though I hear stuff like this every day in my business, I'm still amazed at the monsters we (as a society) allow to raise children.

  7. Wow! That sounds like a really intense, but compelling story!

    Good news: You are the winner of my book giveaway. Congratulations! Please let me know where you'd like me to send them (they're hard copies). My email address is sherry.a.ellis@gmail.com.

  8. Characters are what make a book special for me. When there is an especially emotional component to their story, that makes it more real, more compelling. Thanks for the excerpt and giveaway. I look forward to reading more.

  9. I don't think I could tackle this. I'm sure this kind of thing exists. You hear all the time where foster parents leave children in basements and they are malnourished. Sad world we live in.

  10. Funny to think that Lauren actually works with people with Intellectual Disabilities yet still uses the outdated term retarded. That alone turns me off enough to never want to read the book. Call me close minded, but that title is all about attracting attention. Hope her ploy doesn't work.

  11. The writing is horrible. Seriously. The only way she might get some attention is because of the use of the word retarded which is obviously what the author has planned. Bad. Really bad.

  12. I find it hard to believe this person is a 'professional' of any sort. Use the word retarded is a hard stop for me...and all other professionals.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.