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Dead Witness

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Valerie McCormick is a wife and mother from small town Canada. While visiting Seattle, she becomes the only witness to the brutal seaside murder of two FBI agents. When she flees to the nearest police station to report the crime, she becomes caught up in a web of international intrigue and danger. Suddenly, she and her family are in the sights of ruthless criminals bent on preventing her from testifying against the murderer. Even with FBI protection, Valerie is not safe. Whisked away from her family and all that is familiar to her, Valerie fights back against the well-intentioned FBI to ultimately take control over her life with every ounce of fury a mother can possess.

288 pages, Trade Paperback

First published January 1, 2008

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About the author

Joylene Nowell Butler

9 books46 followers
I am Canadian/Métis, the author of suspense novels Dead Witness, Maski: Broken But Not Dead, Break Time, Matowak, and Kiss of the Assassin. In 2012 Broken But Not Dead won the IPPY Silver Medal. Born in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, (April 25, 1953) I am the youngest of three children of Charles (Charlie) Murray Nowell, veteran, farmer and truck driver, and Gabrielle Frances, (nee Desjardins), a member of the wartime singing trio The Desjardins Sisters. When my father was discharged from the Navy, he moved us from Victoria to Haney, (Maple Ridge) BC. I grew up with horses, cows, pigs and chickens. A regular tomboy. I received a Bachelor's Degree in English and Philosophy from Douglas College and attended Simon Fraser University. In 1979, my husband Ralph and I moved our five sons to Prince George, BC. In 1992 we moved an hour west of the city and built a log/stick house on Cluculz Lake, 36 km east of Vanderhoof. Twenty-five years later, we sold our home and today spend six months in Bucerias, Nayarit, and six months dividing our time between BC’s interior and anywhere else we may end up at.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for T.B. Markinson.
Author 55 books784 followers
November 2, 2015
This is the type of book that keeps me up at night. It’s not horror by any means, but the suspense and fear kept me glued to the book. I can’t imagine being in such a dangerous predicament, but it’s also very easy to imagine and that’s why it scares the crap out of me. If you like well-crafted thrillers, I highly recommend Dead Witness.
Profile Image for Martha Cheves.
Author 5 books67 followers
November 7, 2010
Dead Witness – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘A long, narrow building, beyond the small shed, blocked her view. Valerie inched past a rusty engine leaning against the hut and peeked around the corner. Two men in black tee shirts and black pants stood at the stern of the sleek cabin cruiser docked at the wharf. Three more men stood on the pier: One young, one old, one dangerously attractive. Facing her, she could see he was perfect, in fact. Except, why was he wearing a long, tan raincoat? Maybe she wasn’t the only unprepared foreigner. No way would she interrupt their business. Two of them walked way. Mr. Perfect, the handsome Latino in the tan raincoat, smiled after them. His sensuous, slightly accented voice broke the silence. “Gentlemen, please. It has been my experience that even in times of indecision, a solution exists.” His arms spread wide as if to embrace them. The two men stopped and turned back. Still smiling, the Latino reached inside his raincoat and pulled out a gun. Valerie gawked at him. She heard a pop. The older man fell backward onto the wharf. Pop. The younger man’s head exploded. The man in the tan raincoat leaned down and fired a third bullet in the older man’s head. The body twitched, then lay still.’

Valerie McCormick is the mother of 3 beautiful daughters and wife to Ed. Ed owns a timber business in their home town of Prince George, Canada. In the process of trying to secure the business he runs across a possible client who has his eyes set on a boat docked in Seattle, Washington, so when Valerie wins a trip to Seattle, what better time to take pictures of the boat with hopes of scoring brownie points with the client. But when Valerie witnesses the murder of 2 men she decides she must do her duty and report it to the police. To her relief, the police ended up arresting Miguel DeOlmos on a traffic violation and now had him in jail. To her disappointment, after the American FBI talked her into testifying against DeOlmos, he ends up escaping during his trial. And to make matters worse Miguel DeOlmos is the leader of one of the largest drug cartels in the both North and South America. DeOlmos will stop at nothing to keep from being tried in the US due to its death penalty and it’s not beyond him to kill the only witness the FBI have against him.

Author Joylene Nowell Butler took me on a ride from Canada, Seattle, Nevada, California and then to Baja as FBI agent Mike Canaday chases DeOlmos while still doing everything in his power to keep Valerie alive. Valerie comes up with her own ideas of how to capture DeOlmos and ends up in the clutches of his psycho brother Vincente. Dead Witness is a superbly written murder mystery that has everything from greed to murder to deceit and of course love. I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading Dead Witness.

Dead Witness

Published by Joylene Nowell
278 pages
ISBN# 978-0-9810-3050-0

Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com Stir, Laugh, Repeat
Profile Image for Michele Lee.
Author 18 books49 followers
March 20, 2009
Valerie McCormick believes in family above all else, a fact that’s obvious when she wins a trip to Seattle and ends up spending it doing research on a boat for her husband’s company. However, on her free trip she witnesses the murder of two FBI agents and is thrust into a multinational court case against a cartel that puts her life in terrible danger.

Dead Witness is a self published debut thriller with a touch of love story. Valerie is understandably upset by her predicament, and surrounded by daughters who seem sweet, but oblivious, a husband who is using her and various FBI agents who bumble around and ruin her life. The bad guys are evil. The heroes are not quite perfect and over all the book is close, but not quite ready to be on the must read shelf.

Butler is a solid writer, with good potential, but there are several things that end up distracting from the story. To begin with it’s hard to connect with Valerie, the lead character. Her personality seems less than three dimensional and while she’s understandably emotional, hearing her upset over being in protective custody, and her willingness to be dead rather than without her family made her hard to sympathize with. The FBI procedure in the storyline isn’t entirely convincing, leading to mistakes that certainly add to the plot, but can make a reader question the storytelling. Readers will likely also wonder why Valerie’s brother, an intelligent, skilled investigator, is smart enough to consistently break through the FBI’s cover, but doesn’t consider that the bad guys might be watching him.

Finally, it’s clear that Valerie is the main character, not just because the story is her story, but because all the secondary characters seem to reiterate what she thinks and feels, as well as that she’s a strong, lovely person, in the sections of the story told from their point of view as if they, too, are trying to convince the reader of Valerie’s worth. Unfortunately, this ends up feeling insincere, contributing to a disconnect between the picture readers have of Valerie, and the picture Butler is trying to paint.

Butler shows promise, however, and is likely to show up with a stronger work down the road.
Profile Image for Linda.
2,979 reviews2 followers
March 11, 2012
Valerie McCormick Won A Trip To Seattle. McCormick Construction, Their Logging Business In Prince George Canada Was Struggling With The Bad Economy And Her Husband Asked Her To Take Pictures Of A Boat That Their Client Was Interested In In Hopes To Land His Business. Once At The Marina, She Learned The Boat Was Docked At Pier 7 And She Headed That Way Only To Stumble On A Double Murder That Had Her Running For Her Life And Straight To The Police Knowing That Her Life Would Forever Change.........

Special Agent In Charge, Mike "Candyman"Canady Was In Charge Of Investigations Of Four Murders Of Police Officers Who Killed In A Sting Gone Bad When They Stopped A Shipment From Miguel De Olmos A Cartel Drug Lord Who Was As Slippery As An Eel. When He Learned That A Witness Could Identify Him And He Was Assigned To Seattle He Had No Clue Of Ever Finding Love A Second Time!

Wow, Be Sure To Grab ANYTHING This Authors Writes! Ms. Nowell Butler Grabs Readers By The Throat And Doesn't Let Go Until The Story Concludes. Dead Witness Is Filled With Twists And Turns, And So Much Suspense You Just Can't Put It Down. Valerie And Mike Are More Than Attracted To Each Other But She's Married With Three Girls And She's Under Mike's Protection And That's Against The Rules!
Profile Image for Carol J..
8 reviews
March 7, 2009
Valerie McCormick witnesses the murder of two FBI agents while visiting in Seattle, Washington. When the FBI lose track of the killer and not only her safety but also that of her family is jeopardized, Valerie escapes from their witness protection program and gets personally involved in the search with a tenacity that mothers everywhere will relate to.

The advice writers are frequently given -- to write what they know -- doesn't always work to their advantage. For author Joylene Butler, however, it's helped her produce believable characters who function in credible locales. This debut novel, "Dead Witness", features a wife and mother from Prince George, a small city in western Canada, where Butler also lives. In the story Valerie's brother is an ex-RCMP officer and PI; Butler's real life brother is also a PI. It all provides a familiarity that makes it easy for readers to get and stay involved.

"Dead Witness" has good storytelling and a well paced plot. It's a suspense-filled page-turner right to the end!

Profile Image for Keith Pyeatt.
Author 7 books21 followers
June 13, 2009
This was one of those books I didn't want to end. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to Valerie and Canaday, the two main characters. They are vivid and real and somehow compliment the plot, pacing, and twists in Dead Witness. The dialogue in this novel felt a real as it gets, which helped hold me in the story. But yet another reason Dead Witness shines so brightly is the DeOlmos brothers, the bad guys. They're evil but oh so human. Individually, they're scary and believable and sometimes even charming, but there's something about the way they interact and play off each other that makes them all the more realistic and complex and all the more terrifying. But it's Valerie who gets my highest praise. She's a fascinating mix of vulnerability and strength, naivety and savvy, purity and seductress.

The writing style is crisp and dynamic and consistent, perfect for a thriller. I loved reading Dead Witness and hope there will be a sequel.
Profile Image for Gigi.
10 reviews4 followers
March 12, 2009
Do you love steely, handsome heroes? Delicious, suave villains? Suspense? Surprises? Ah! Then "Dead Witness" is the book for you!

On a carefree day while taking random photos at a marina, Valerie stumbles on a murder in progress. The murderer leaves a burning memory in her mind---the darkly handsome, sophisticated Michael De Olmos.

Her innocent discovery unfortunately leads her into a dangerous run for her life from a man who puts not value on human life---a tantalizingly scary villain who will stop at nothing to find her. And the Witness Protection system isn't even a safe haven for Valerie.

"Dead Witness" introduces a hero, Canaday, "Candyman", who is the man women dream about---and Valerie may not be immune to his quietly sexy appeal.

A good read! All the way to the last page! Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Jaime.
1,288 reviews74 followers
July 12, 2016
This was pretty good! Really, much better than I expected, as it’s the first book I’ve read published by Lulu.com. It took me a while to warm up to Valerie and get into the story, but by the time she went to Mexico I was hooked! I didn’t like her husband, Ed, from the start, and was pleased to see him get his just desserts. Canaday is an interesting character, and I found the relationship between him and Valerie to be intriguing. My one complaint is that I didn’t feel like I connected to him enough. You know he’s the big bad Candyman, but sometimes he feels like just a rock in the corner. You also never really get the full story about Valerie’s parents… maybe this is explained in a novel to come? Overall, this was an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Suzanne Montigny.
Author 9 books280 followers
March 10, 2014
Anything written by Joylene Butler promises to keep you on the edge of your seat. She is the master of suspense. I read her other novel and loved it, and this one is equally good. But I guess the part I like the best about Joylene Butler, is that her stories both take place in Beautiful British Columbia, in the town of Prince George. It's not New York, or LA, or Paris. Just a small B.C. town like I grew up in.
Profile Image for Jamie Ayres.
Author 4 books122 followers
October 4, 2013
I don't usually pick up suspense novels, but my mom was the lucky winner of Joylene's book and then she passed it on to me! We both thoroughly enjoyed this read :-)
Profile Image for Hank Quense.
Author 75 books211 followers
July 27, 2021
Joylene Butler has written an intense suspense thriller.
Valerie McCormick, a Canadian, witnesses two murders on a dock in Seattle. At the police station, things get a bit weird when the FBI gets involved. The victims were both undercover FBI agents and the murderer is an international crime boss and Valerie is the only one who can identify him. Naturally, her life is next to worthless.
The story progresses as the FBI and the Canadian government try to protect her and capture the crime boss. As the tension mounts Valerie decides to take matters into her own hands and tells the FBI to take a hike. This increases the tension as Valerie branches out on her own and that leads to the unexpected ending.
If thrillers are your type of read, don’t miss this one.
Profile Image for Christopher Hoare.
Author 15 books10 followers
March 8, 2009
Review: Dead Witness: by Joylene Nowell Butler:

When Valerie McCormick stumbles upon the scene of a murder she becomes the only witness who can testify in the trial of crime boss Miguel DeOlmos, and becomes a target for murder herself. While the story unfolds at a thriller pace, author Butler weaves a compelling tale of Valerie, a woman who will risk everything for the sake of her endangered family.

I have to admit to breaking all the rules in this review – Joylene Butler has been an online writing buddy for years and I critiqued an earlier draft of this novel, but I wanted to showcase a self-published novel as atonement for casting aspersions when I ceased accepting them for review. A self-published novel can be as good a read as this and do well, but it must contain the same amount of critical reading and novel craft as a commercial publisher would require. The only aspect I would fault in this edition of Dead Witness is to suggest it needed stronger copy editing, and if another edition is intended, now would be a good time to do it.

While murder and violence underlie the action this is no bang bang shoot’em up where the author sacrifices depth and characterization for impact – which may have caused potential publishers to shy away from something so different from the kind of mindless TV drama most thriller writers aim for. We are thrust into Valerie’s turmoil as the FBI whisk her away from DeOlmos’s attempts to silence her and she has to let her husband, brother, and beloved daughters believe she’s dead. She turns out to be a very difficult subject for the witness protection program because she feels as if she might as well have died as to become so irrevocably separated from them – unless DeOlmos can be caught and successfully brought to trial.

The cast of characters are well drawn, from the cold and murderous DeOlmos, ever wary of plots to catch him, to Canaday the withdrawn and lonely FBI chief who finds protecting his star witness requires him to make his own commitments to a life that he has eschewed. The love of family is central to both heroine and villain and the author’s excellent exploration of their personalities provides a powerful underpinning to the action. The drama unfolds and deepens as the suspicious DeOlmos uses all his corrupt resources to send his killers to her hiding places. The contest between the crime boss and the FBI swings back and forth as each plans to outwit the other.

This is Joylene Butler’s earliest and first released novel which has gone through a great deal of polishing and re-writing over the years while she also worked on four more thrillers. While it was represented by no fewer than three different literary agents, none were able to place it with NY publishers. This edition became self-published almost by accident. As she has explained on on-line writers’ sites, and in the interview I did with her on Blogcritics (http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/...), she decided to self publish with Lulu merely for the chance to hold the book upon which she had lavished so much care. She bought a single copy, and didn’t intend to order more until her family became excited and insisted she sell them locally. To her surprise the copies she then ordered have sold well and she has become something of a local celebrity within a few weeks. She is currently seeking wider distribution.

Dead Witness is a thriller that satisfies on more than one level. While the action is sufficient to keep the reader up late turning the pages, the exploration of personalities, fears, and loyalties marks the beginning of Joylene Butler’s fascination with the inner lives of the characters whose crimes and struggles drive her stories. I am one of those who looks forward to see her other thrillers in print so that others can enjoy the keen perception she brings to the genre.
Profile Image for April.
Author 2 books76 followers
September 16, 2008
Imagine being on an innocent vacation - one that has been won, no less, and suddenly being the unwitting witness to a murder. To top things off, this is not just any murder, but the murder of two undercover FBI Agents, the gunman one of the highest on the most wanted lists and the leader of a powerful Latin drug cartel. Murder is horrible enough, but with these dangerous circumstances, it can be deadly to the witness.

Valerie McCormick, a wife and dotting and loving mother of three precious girls, lives in a small Canadian town. After winning a trip to Seattle, Valerie is alone when she encounters a seemingly heated conversation between several men. Before she knows it, one of the men pulls out a gun and kills two of men, right before her eyes. As she turns to escape, she drops her camera, which just happens to have one picture of herself in front of the hotel that she is staying at. Being the honorable person that she is, Valerie goes to the police with what she has witnessed, and her life is never the same again.

Imagine being a mother whose one true purpose and reason for living is her children. Then suddenly being told that you will never again be able to see your children and if you do not cooperate, you will be putting those precious and cherished lives in grave danger. This is just one, but the most vital heart wrenching circumstance that Valerie must come to deal with. Until the murderer is found, her life is no longer her own and it does not take long for Valerie to take matters into her own hands.

Invoking on a dangerous and life threatening quest, Valerie comes face to face with horrors that would break the average person. However, finding a deep inner strength and courage unlike any other, Valerie does what must be done to save her family and regain her life.

I loved the character of Valerie and felt easily connected to her. The development that she goes through, as she engulfs upon this life threatening journey, is heartwarming and makes the reader want to cheer her discovery of inner courage and strength.

Ms. Butler does a superb job of bringing the story of Dead Witness and her characters to life. I found it difficult to put this book down and though greatly satisfied with the ending, I was left wishing for more. Dead Witness is an excellent story of suspense with just a dash of romance thrown in. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a great read - you will not be disappointed. From the first word, until the last, there were never any dry spots, over-wording, or story lagging. I, for one, cannot wait to read more by this author and hope that the wait is not long!
Profile Image for Laurel-Rain.
Author 6 books228 followers
May 5, 2012
When Valerie McCormick wins a trip to Seattle, she is eager to step outside her ordinary life as a housewife and mother who lives in Prince George, BC. She and her husband Ed have financial problems, and the humdrum of their lives as they struggle along has robbed them of the closeness they once shared.

But what happens to Valerie on that fateful day in Seattle will inform the rest of her life.

Out of the blue and totally unexpectedly, she witnesses a man killing some other men; when she reports it to the police, she is unprepared for the events that unfold.

At home again, she is also stunned by what is expected of her. Will she be safe until the trial, once the FBI agents capture the killer? And once they do, and as the trial is about to start, what will happen to totally threaten everything she loves and knows?

Who can Valerie trust in the weeks and months ahead? Just when she thinks she has found safety, everything unravels. Who is tipping off her whereabouts to the now escaped murderer? What has to happen before she is finally safe again? Or will she ever be safe?

"Dead Witness" takes the reader on a thrilling journey as one woman defies all the boundaries of her previous life and learns that she can only count on herself. Along the way, she discovers that sometimes the safe path isn't the best choice, and once in awhile one has to stretch to truly find oneself. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Valerie; I admired the FBI Agent Mike Canaday; and disliked Valerie's husband Ed from the very first time he appeared on the page. Every character felt real and helped me connect to this exciting story, which earned five stars from me.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
5,064 reviews183 followers
March 8, 2009
Valerie McCormick had won a Mother’s Day contest for two fun filed days in Seattle. If she had known that winning would have her running for her life then she probably won’t have gone. Valerie went down to the docks to take some pictures when she witnesses the murder of two men. Valerie discovers that the two men were undercover FBI agents who were working a case to bring down of Latin’s most famous drug lord’s Miguel DeOlmos. Now DeOlmos is after Valerie and her family but the FBI is going to try their hardest to protect Valerie. DeOlmos tracks Valerie down and almost succeeds in killing her. Now Valerie knows that she will have to take matters into her own hands. It’s a battle of wits in addition to who has time in their favor.

I found it amazing just to what extremes a mother will go to protect her family. Valerie’s character is a very strong woman with a fierce personality. The story line was a very exciting one with all the action and adventure. It seemed like though that Valerie was better equipped to take on Miguel DeOlmos then the FBI were. This is why I think I found Dead Witness so good was because I wanted to see what Valerie would do next. I was pleasantly surprised to find I couldn’t put Dead Witness down. Dead Witness can by classified as a great read. This is all due to the author Joylene Nowell Butler. Keep up the good job.
Profile Image for Darlene.
Author 9 books6 followers
June 4, 2011
A great debut book from a fellow Canadian writer. Well worth the read!
Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews

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