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Hostile Witness (Witness Series, #1)

3.69  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,041 Ratings  ·  1,080 Reviews
When sixteen-year-old Hannah Sheraton is arrested for the murder of her stepgrandfather, the chief justice of the California Supreme court, her distraught mother turns to her old college roommate, Josie Baylor-Bates, for help. Josie, once a hot-shot criminal defense attorney, left the fast track behind for a small practice in Hermosa Beach, California. But Hannah Sheraton ...more
Kindle Edition, 366 pages
Published November 29th 2009 (first published February 3rd 2004)
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Feb 09, 2012 Stacy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy legal thrillers and was looking forward to digging in to this novel. After just a few pages, I almost put it away for good, but being a little OCD, I couldn't stand the thought of not finishing a book, so I continued. It did start to get better about halfway through, but I don't think I will read any more of the series. I can not decide if I like her style of writing - it seemed quite inconsistent to me - some parts of the story line were well thought out and interesting while oth ...more
Jan 17, 2015 Joan rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
This "manuscript" is an adequate first-draft version of what could have become a good novel if the author had been willing to spend some time revising and editing. There was actually a good nugget of a plot, and the characters were interesting and fairly complex. The remainder of this review is a giant "however."

The tone of the book was very inconsistent. Some passages of dialogue and narration were written with clarity and facility, while other passages could have come from the pencil of a th
Debra Martin
Jul 03, 2012 Debra Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the moment the book opened with 16-year-old Hannah Sheraton being processed into the women's prison, I was hooked.

When Hannah's mother begs her old college roommate, Josie Bates, to defend her daughter, Josie is caught up in a complicated legal situation. Was this a simple case of a rebellious teenager acting out or was there an underlying reason for the girl's obsessive compulsive actions? These are the issues that Josie must uncover if she is to mount a credible defense for Hannah.

Lewis Weinstein
This is a terrific read, with a challenging premise and characters who are well developed, with more than enough strengths and flaws to make them seem very real human beings.

Some GR reviewers said they figured out "who done it" early in the story. I never try to do that, finding it more enjoyable to let the author bring me along for the ride. In a murder mystery, the pleasure for me is more in the steps taken to work out the solution than in the solution itself. And if I had guessed, I would ha
Robin Webster
Sep 12, 2013 Robin Webster rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Josie Baylor-Bates used to be a high profile lawyer, but resigned from her law-firm after a female client she successfully defended killed her children after walking free. Josie was racked with guilt and couldn’t get it off of her mind. She then wanted nothing more than to work as a lawyer in a low profile law firm in Hermosa Beach, California. However, all that was about to change when an old college roommate turns up at her door for help. Her sixteen year old daughter has been arrested for the ...more
Stephen Clynes
Aug 17, 2012 Stephen Clynes rated it did not like it
Did Hannah Sheraton start the fire that killed her step-grandfather Justice Fitz Rayburn? Josie Baylor-Bates, a friend of Hannah's mother, defends her daughter.

This story slowly unfolds in the court and with Josie's investigations outside. Very little is said between Hannah and Josie. You are unsure of her guilt and Hannah believes her problems will blow away. You do not develop an empathy for Hannah because she does not co-operate fully with Josie. This crime thriller is basically a court room
Shawn Davis
Mar 20, 2012 Shawn Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Josie is a lawyer, and a very good one. So good, in fact, that she even managed to get a not-guilty verdict for a guilty client... who then murdered her own children.

Josie decided not to practice criminal law ever again.

Until her best college-friend showed up desperate, needing Josie to represent her daughter Hannah - who has been accused of murdering her step-grandfather. And that step-grandfather just happens to be a famous and politically active California judge.

Hannah is not easy to represe
Lorraine Cobcroft
When am esteemed Californian judge is murdered and his home burned, his troubled step-granddaughter is the prime suspect. Attorney Josie Baylor-Bates has a hundred reasons not to take on this case, and her handling of it opens her to public condemnation and private torment, but for some reason she just can't let it go. Lawyers are supposed to be detached. For Josie, this is very personal.

I predicted the ending. What was obviously intended to be a surprise twist was a little too obvious in my op
Karen Perkins
Nov 29, 2012 Karen Perkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hannah is a tattooed, multi-pierced 16 year old with OCD and a mother who does not understand the concept of love. We meet her after she has been arrested for murder and thrown into prison.
Josie is a big shot defence lawyer who, after successfully defending a guilty woman who went on to kill again, has run away from her old life to practice law in a small town, where her toughest case is to defend a 'weenie-wagger' - and convincing him to keep his trousers on when in public. Josie is also Hanna
Shelagh Rice
Oct 04, 2015 Shelagh Rice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone looking for a Courtroom Drama needs to go no further. I really enjoyed this book, I received this free so decided to start it and see. I was hooked. It is not just a story of a crime, an investigation, a trial and a conviction, it is so much more. A sixteen year old girl with a lot of problems is accused of killing her grandfather. A mother desperate to save her child begs an old school friend to help and defend her. A defense attorney who has given up the bright light cases for peace and ...more
May 03, 2013 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I downloaded this free book and found myself immediately welcomed into Josie, Hannah, and Archer's world! The characters become friends who I wanted to be in constant contact with just like family or neighbors. The dust bunnies multiplied as I finished one book in the series and downloaded the next. Rebecca's characters are very realistic and complicated, making then extremely life like. The "movie" played vividly in my head as I turned the pages andI felt like I was on Hermosa Beach! Definitely ...more
Kat Collins
Jul 02, 2012 Kat Collins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Usually when a book is free for Kindle on Amazon, I'm a bit skeptical of how good it's going to be. And some I've read that were free have proven that point. Yet, Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster reminded why I keep pursuing free books - because every now and then, you'll find a gem! I fell in love with this book. It was fast-paced and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Synopsis per Amazon, "When sixteen-year-old Hannah Sheraton is arrested for the murder of her stepgrandfather, the chief justice
Joe Kovacs
Oct 01, 2013 Joe Kovacs added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of legal thrillers
I have also published this book review on my blog, Please check it out and subscribe if you're interested in writing, or literary and horror fiction.

There is a reason Josie Baylor-Bates isn’t a criminal defense attorney anymore. And everything seems to be working out with her life just fine, thank you very much. She’s about to be made partner in a small, inconspicuous law firm serving no one controversial, and she’s got her home and her dog to keep her company in Hermosa Beac
Christina (Ensconced in Lit)
I got this as a free book off of Amazon.

It's been a while since I've read a page turner-- one that I had to stay up late reading just to race to the end. This was one of those novels. From the initial meeting of Linda, a past roommate with an intriguing proposal, to meeting her defendant, Hannah and to revealing the rest of the ragtag band of screwed up characters, they were all fascinating characters. I loved the fast paced courtroom drama-- I definitely have a soft spot for those. I loved the
Adele Symonds
This is a well written book with an engaging plot. It was clear to me from very early on that there were going to be some interesting twists and this was so. The plot draws you in immediately and never let’s go its grip of you.

Hannah is a character who I immediately felt for and I was with her all the way through the novel. Josie was also a very good character with her own unresolved issues which play an integral part in the plot. Most of the other characters were people who I would not like if
Jul 25, 2012 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this story and was instantly intrigued from page 1! There is foul language through out... not something I really enjoyed. But I was way too interested in the story to stop reading or even to skip to the end. I wanted every detail!

I like how the book is told in multiple points of view. I felt like I got to know the characters much better, though some of them I really didn't like and eventually hated as things played out. But the main three women, the accused 16 year old, her mother and th
Maureen DeLuca
This was a free e-book on - and as of now - you can still download it for free. This book is the first in the series of Josie Bates which is a legal/thriller type read.

When sixteen-year-old Hannah Sheraton is arrested for the murder of her stepgrandfather, the chief justice of the California Supreme court, her distraught mother turns to her old college roommate, Josie Baylor-Bates, for help. The story for me move along very well, along with a few twists and turns along the way. It w
Jan 06, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
Better than your average legal thriller even though it is still fairly predictable. Maybe it is because the main character is so likable or that the 16 year old girl she defends seems so messed up because of her mom. I don't know.

Forster isn't a great writer or anything. In fact, I found a number of grammatical errors (missing apostrophes mostly), but I never know if that is because I am reading a digital version or if the author and editor really missed them.

As I said the book is pretty predic
Margaret Crampton
This is a very clever thriller which will have you reading through the night. Very much to be recommended
Corinne Austin
Well, I'm glad to be finished with that one. Which is a shame, as there was a good story in there: the characters had potential to be intriguing, and the twists cleverly plotted but, unfortunately, it was all let down by the quality of writing and lack of editing, As a whole it was jarringly inconsistent--there were passages that flowed well, and then passages that read like so many pages of author-notes that would be expanded upon in the final draft.

Overall, it felt like an unpolished first dr
I'm afraid Goodreads managed to eat my original review...

I'm not entirely sure how to categorize this one. It's hardly a "courtroom procedural", as it's far from typical court procedure. It's a bit of a "whodunnit", but your options are limited from the beginning. But mostly it's a lot of unlikeable characters bulldogging through a trial to come to the truth.

None of the characters are very likable. Josie, the protagonist, is a whiner. She does her job, gets a client (who she believes is innocent
Mar 30, 2014 Bert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was a frustrating read. As a career criminal defense lawyer, and an aficionado of crime fiction, I like the genre. However this wasn't much more than an awkward first draft of a mystery novel, and the outcome was tediously predictable. Our protagonist is a 40 year old lawyer, who feels guilty about winning a big case, after which time her client murders her children. Therefore she refuses herself to a coastal California town, and sets up a "safe" practice dealing with mundane problems ...more
May 13, 2012 TC rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
Josie Baylor-Bates has retreated from high profile criminal cases after successfully defending a woman who went on to kill her children after her acquittal. When an old college friend arrives at her door begging her to defend her daughter Josie intends to pass the case on to someone else but finds herself intrigued by her beautiful but delicate client. 16 year old Hannah is accused of killing her step-grandfather, a supreme court chief justice. Her mother and step-father seem to accept her guilt ...more
Jul 11, 2011 Carla rated it really liked it
A tightly woven plot, strong characterisation and a dramatic storyline combine to make HOSTILE WITNESS, by Rebecca Forster, a compelling, exciting read.

Other reviewers have commented on this title's page-turning qualities. This was one novel that not only did I lose sleep for, but it accompanied me to the supermarket, car repairer and was propped on the kitchen bench while I supervised dinner preparation. Its plot was well paced and did not get bogged down with unnecessary waffle, unlike other n
Oct 17, 2011 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding series I have read all three of the Legal Witness Series and they were all outstanding. I highly recommend them. You will not want to put them down. Rebecca Roster is the best at telling a great story that is very realistic and I enjoy her characters with there human flaws and all. I just do not know how she continues to come up with all the great twists and turns in the plots. And this particular book dealt with trying minors as an adult. I have mixed emotions on this subject. And i ...more
Joyce Lagow
May 04, 2012 Joyce Lagow rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Josie Baylor-Bates is a middle-aged lawyer practicing low-key home-town law in Hermosa Beach, California. an old college friend turns up, desperate to have Josie, once a high-pressure criminal defense lawyer, defend her 16 year old daughter who has been accused of arson and murder.

That's the plot, and it's not bad. But it's the only thing that's not bad about this terrible book. Forster can't write; her prose is mediocre at best and her dialogue is strained, to put it mildly. The book could have
Max Read
“A legal thriller, crime mystery series”

Her marriage to a Superior Court Judge is no doubt helpful when writing legal thriller novels as Rebecca Forster does. To her own credit, she holds a BA and MBA from Loyola University and teaches at UCLA writers program.

Forster’s legal thrillers star attorney Josie Baylor-Bates and her love interest Archer, a retired cop. In this novel, “Hostile Witness”, Josie is recruited by an old college roommate to represent her daughter who is accused of setting a fi
Jan 20, 2013 Scot rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Introduces a new crime drama series, with a tough (but compassionate) forty year old lady lawyer protagonist named Josie who is working through abandonment issues created by her mother. She seems highly reminescent of Sue Grafton's detective heroine Kinsey Milhone in many ways,(she lives in a cozy, small beach town in southern California) and she has a taciturn, tough, but always-there-when-you-need-him ex-cop boyfriend named Archer, which is no doubt homage to Ross Macdonald's detective hero of ...more
Aug 30, 2012 Nenette rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kevin Marsh
Sep 26, 2014 Kevin Marsh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster and will be reading more of her books. I jelled with Josie, the main character right away and really cared about her throughout the novel. The characters were well formed and the story well written.
A recommended read.
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Diva's Book Club: SILENT WITNESS by Rebecca Forster 2 16 Feb 18, 2014 01:00PM  
  • The Fifth Avenue Series Boxed Set
  • Ascension Day
  • Murder on the Mind (Jeff Resnick Mystery, #1)
  • One Deadly Sister (Sandy Reid Mysteries, #1)
  • Legwork
  • Deadly Stillwater (McRyan Mystery Series, #2)
  • No Time To Run
  • Volcano Watch (The Forensic Geology Series, #3)
  • Dark Horse (Jim Knighthorse, #1)
  • Kane
  • Shadow of Death
  • A Fatal Verdict (The Trials of Sarah Newby, #2)
  • Life Blood
  • Irreparable Harm  (Sasha McCandless, #1)
  • Too Close to Miss (Mara Cunningham Series, #1)
  • Clearwater Journals
  • Protector
  • A Dream of Death (Detective Lincoln Munroe, #1)
On a crazy dare. Now, with over 33 books to my name including the bestselling Witness Series featuring Josie Bates and the USA Today Best Seller KEEPING COUNSEL, writing is my passion.

Before I began my creative career, I earned my B.A. and MBA and worked as an advertising executive. I have taught at the UCLA Writers Program, SEAK conference and other writing venues. I also volunteer with the Youn
More about Rebecca Forster...

Other Books in the Series

Witness Series, (7 books)
  • Silent Witness (Witness Series, #2)
  • Privileged Witness (Witness Series, #3)
  • Expert Witness (Witness Series, #4)
  • Eyewitness (Witness Series, #5)
  • Forgotten Witness (Witness Series #6)
  • Dark Witness (Witness Series #7)

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“Hannah had a future if she could just settle down.” 1 likes
“She had learned that evil had the fattest wallet and most chaste face of all.” 1 likes
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