BOOK REVIEW: Failure to Protect by Pamela Samuels Young (Mystery/Legal Thriller)

Failure to Protect
Dre Thomas and Angela Evans series #4
Pamela Samuels Young

Genre: Legal Thriller
Publisher: Goldman House Publishing
Date of Publication: October 22, 2019
Number of Pages: 414

When the classroom is no longer a safe space for her child, the outraged mother of a bullied nine-year-old is determined to seek justice for her daughter.

An ambitious school principal, however, is far more concerned about protecting her career than getting to the truth. She flat out denies any knowledge of the bullying and prefers to sweep everything under the rug. But just how low will she go?

When the mother’s two hard-charging female attorneys enter the picture, they face more than an uphill battle.

As the case enters the courtroom, the women fight hard to expose the truth. But will a massive cover up hinder their quest for justice?

Many thanks to Pump Up Your Book blog tours and the author for providing me with a free copy of the book. This is my honest and thoughtful review.

Having recently completed a reread of THIRTEEN REASONS WHY and finally viewing the show on Netflix, it was perfect timing for me to have this book pop up for an opportunity to read and review as well. As a fan of legal thrillers, I was completely intrigued to find out how the courtroom drama would play out given such controversial topics as social media, bullying, and suicide especially within the public school system.

Though incredibly fast-paced and page-turning, this is a difficult read. It will become quite hard to disconnect once you begin reading. Even when the story shifts perspective or introduces a moment of brief levity, there is always a pervading sense of social conscience that adds an indelible weight to the narrative. Readers will run a gamut of emotions as the truth ultimately leads to a small measure of justice. 

This is such a great example of what a compelling legal procedural should be! It was so immersive and relevant within a plot that not only grabs your attention, but held on to it throughout. Seamlessly woven into the story, readers not only gain insights into the process, but can witness how frustrating the legal experience can be. Between the family, school officials, and the legal teams, there are just enough characters to balance the storytelling while also creating tension and suspense without becoming convoluted. 

While this is technically the fourth book in the series, it can definitely be read as a standalone without the feeling that you are missing anything. I do look forward to reading more as high expectations have been set for sure! 

Overall, this is a thought-provoking, yet heart-breaking story that will resonate with readers on so many levels. The author’s passion for safety and empowerment can be felt across the pages and truly shines light on tough, yet relevant topics. Absolutely riveting and remarkably somber.

Chapter 1

 “Please, Uncle Dre, let me stay home with you today. Can you homeschool me? Please!”
 Dre stroked his goatee and laughed. “Unfortunately, I’m not smart enough to homeschool you or anybody else.”
 “I’m serious,” Bailey pleaded, her face twisted in terror. “Please don’t make me go!”
 As his Jeep inched along behind the long line of cars dropping off kids in front of Parker Elementary School, Dre peered over his shoulder at the cute little girl sitting in his back seat. Bailey’s stress level was way too high. She’d had a few run-ins with a bully at her old school, but he assumed the transfer to Parker had fixed everything.
 “What’s going on? Why don’t you want to go to school?”
 Bailey hugged her book bag to her chest as if it were a life raft. “I just don’t.”
 “C’mon, talk to me. Is somebody bothering you here too?”
 After a long beat, Bailey slowly bobbed her head.
 Dre had purposely used the word bothering, not bullying. He was tired of hearing all the hoopla about bullies. Kids getting picked on was nothing new. It happened in his day and would keep happening until the end of time.
 Truth be told, today’s kids were too damn soft. People turned backflips to protect them from the realities of life. Like everybody getting a freakin’ trophy just for participating. That was the stupidest crap he’d ever heard. Sometimes life is hard. Kids need to know that sooner rather than later.
 “Please don’t tell my mom,” Bailey begged, her brown eyes glassy with tears. “She’ll fuss at me for not standing up for myself.”
 Dre reached back and gave Bailey’s foot a playful squeeze. “No, she won’t. But you do have to start standing up for yourself. If somebody’s being mean to you, you have my permission to be mean right back.”
 He wasn’t condoning violence, but if another kid started some mess, the only way to show ’em you weren’t no punk was to clap back twice as hard. Most bullies were wimps. Once you got in their face, they backed off. That’s what he’d taught his son to do and, to his knowledge, Little Dre had never had a problem. He would teach Bailey to do the same.
 “You don’t get it,” Bailey huffed, her shoulders drooping. “That won’t help.”
 They were almost at the drop-off point, when Dre steered his Jeep out of the line of cars and made a hasty U-turn in the middle of the street.
 Bailey’s upper body sprang forward. “We’re going home?”
 “Nope.” Dre pulled to a stop along the curb. “I’m walking you inside. I want you to show me who’s messing with you.”
 Bailey slumped back against the seat, her lips protruding into a pout. “That’ll just make it worse.”
 Turning off the engine, Dre hopped out and jogged around to open the back door. “Let’s go.”
 He took Bailey’s hand as they stepped into the crosswalk. The closer they got to the school doors, the slower Bailey walked. By the time they reached the entrance, Dre felt like he was tugging a sixty-pound bag of potatoes.
 “Please, Uncle Dre,” Bailey whispered, glancing all around. “Please don’t make me go!” Her tiny hand clutched two of his fingers.
 Dre led Bailey off to the side, squatted until they were at eye level, and caressed her shoulders.
 “I don’t know what’s going on, but there’s no reason for you to be this stressed out about going to school. If somebody’s messing with you, I need to know about it. What’s the kid’s name?”
 Bailey hung her head as a tear slid down her right cheek. For a second, Dre thought she was about to come clean.
 “It doesn’t matter,” she mumbled, hoisting her book bag higher on her shoulder.
 “Yes, it—”
 Bailey jerked away from him and dashed inside the school.
 He was about to go after her when a woman stepped in front of him, blocking his path.
 “May I help you, sir?”
 The woman’s chin jutted forward like an accusing finger pointing him out in a lineup. “And you are?”
 “I’m Bailey’s”—he paused—”uh, I’m Bailey’s godfather.” He’d started to introduce himself as her uncle to make himself sound more legit but changed his mind.
 “Your name?” Her tone conveyed all the warmth of an icicle.
 “Andre Thomas.”
 Dre pegged the woman to be in her early forties. Her thick, black hair fell a couple of inches below her ears in a blunt cut that matched her funky disposition. Her sleeveless, form-fitting, red dress hugged every inch of her curvy frame. Actually, she was kinda hot. Kerry Washington’s classy style with Cookie Lyon’s bad attitude.
 “Bailey’s mother didn’t tell us someone else would be bringing her to school today.”
 She looked him up and down like he was some pedophile on the prowl for a new victim.
 Dre couldn’t seem to pull his eyes away. Despite an innate seductiveness, the woman still managed to carry herself with the spit-shine polish of a CEO. If professionalism had a smell, she would reek.
 “Erika had an early meeting in Irvine and asked me to drop her off.”
 Dre ran a hand over his shaved head. Rarely did anybody—especially a female—make him feel this degree of uneasiness. “I’m sorry. I didn’t get your name.”
 “I’m the principal. Darcella Freeman.”
 He should’ve guessed. A sister with a little power.
“I’ll be dropping Bailey off and picking her up from time to time,” Dre said, anxious for the chick to move out of his way so he could go after Bailey. “Erika got a big promotion. Her job’s a lot more demanding now.”
 “Is that right?”
 “Yep, that’s right.” What’s up with this chick?
 “Please ask Bailey’s mother to email the office authorizing you to pick her up from school.”
 Dre nodded. “Will do.”
 He still wanted to go inside, but the woman stayed put like a queen guarding the gates of her castle.
 Without saying goodbye, Dre pivoted and headed back across the street. As he opened the door to his Jeep, he made a mental note to have a talk with Erika. She’d been thrilled about getting Bailey into Parker Elementary because of its stellar reputation. But the place might not be any better for Bailey than her old school.
 Dre also couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. And not just with Bailey.

Award-winning author and attorney Pamela Samuels Young writes mysteries that matter. Dubbed “John Grisham with a sister’s twist” by one reviewer, Pamela’s fast-paced novels often tackle important social issues.

Her most recent legal thriller, Failure to Protect, takes on the bullying epidemic and its devastating aftermath. Pamela won the prestigious NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction for her thriller Anybody’s Daughter, which provides a realistic look inside the world of child sex trafficking. Her courtroom drama Abuse of Discretion centers around a troubling teen sexting case. #Anybody’s Daughter and #Abuse of Discretion are young adult editions of the two books. A young adult version of Failure to Protect goes on sale in December 2019.

Pamela also writes dangerously sassy romantic suspense under the pen name Sassy Sinclair. Her first foray into the romance genre, Unlawful Desires (2017), was awarded Best Erotic Romance by Romance Slam Jam. Her second book, Unlawful Seduction (2018), was honored as a finalist in Romance Writers of America/Passionate Ink’s Passionate Plume contest in the Best Contemporary Erotica category.

The prolific writer is a frequent speaker on the topics of sex trafficking, bullying, online safety, fiction writing, self-empowerment, and pursuing your passion. To invite Pamela to your book club meeting or to read excerpts of her books, visit www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com and www.sassysinclair.com.


Many thanks to Pump Up Your Book tours and the author! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions!

Monday, December 2

Virtual Book Tour Kick Off at PUYB Virtual Book Club

Wednesday, December 4

Book Feature at The writer’s Life

Thursday, December 5

Book Feature at what Is That Book About

Friday, December 6

Book Feature at Readeropolis

Wednesday, December 11

Book Feature at The Dark Phantom Reviews

Book Feature at Mythical Books

Monday, December 16

Book Review at Gimme the Scoop Reviews

Tuesday, December 17

Book Feature at The Literary Nook

Thursday, December 19

Book Review at All the Ups and Downs

Monday, December 23

Book Review at Musings From an Addicted Reader

Friday, December 27

Book Feature at Write and Take Flight

Book Feature at The Bookworm lodge

Monday, January 6

Book Feature at The Pulp and Mystery Shelf

Tuesday, January 7

Book Feature at I’m All About Books

Wednesday, January 8

Book Feature at As the Page Turns

Monday, January 13

Book Feature at Blogging Authors

Tuesday, January 14

Book Teaser Feature at YouTube

Wednesday, January 15

Book Feature at Rising Indies United

Thursday, January 16

Book Review at Books for Books

Monday, January 20

Book Feature at Literarily Speaking

Wednesday, January 22

Book Feature at Nuttin’ But Books

Monday, January 27

Book Feature at SheWrites

Tuesday, January 28

Book Review at That’s what She’s Reading

Friday, January 31

Book Trailer Teaser Feature at The writer’s Life

Monday, February 3

Book Feature at Book Cover Junkie

Tuesday, February 4

Book Feature at I’m Shelf-ish

Wednesday, February 5

Book Feature at What The Cat Read

Thursday, February 6

Book Teaser Trailer Feature at As the Page Turns

Monday, February 10

Book Feature at Confessions of an Eccentric Bookaholic

Tuesday, February 11

Book Feature at My Book Launch

Wednesday, February 12

Book Review at ebook Addicts

Thursday, February 13

Book Feature at What’s On Your Kindle

Monday, February 17

Book Review at Jazzy Book Reviews

Wednesday, February 19

Book Feature at Book Bloggin’ Princess

Thursday, February 20

Book Review at Sefina Hawke’s Books

Monday, February 24

Book Feature at My Bookish Pleasures

Tuesday, February 25

Book Feature at A Title Wave

Friday, February 28

Book Review at Heidi Lynn’s Book Reviews

Book Review at Shalini’s Books & Reviews



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