Everybody Bleeds by L.J. Forster

Everybody Bleeds Layla-Rae Bryce is a woman with a deeply troubled life, and with a dark vocation: she works in the murder-for-hire industry, where clients can choose how victims die and watch the death streaming live. When Layla finally tries to raise herself up from the depths of despair, her employers may have other thoughts about her own fate.

Everybody Bleeds is a breath of fresh air in the thriller genre, when many crime thrillers star a disgruntled, middle-aged detective that is more trope than character. The novel’s cast of women, all old enough to have children and/or established careers, are perfect empathic conductors. They’re relatable enough to draw in a female audience without alienating male readers.

This book does deserve a trigger warning, however. The story is founded on abuse, primarily sexual abuse of minors, making parts of the narrative a truly jarring read. How the women react to and address this abuse determines their roles as the drama unfolds, so it’s not gratuitous, but crucial to the plot. At times tear-jerking, horrifying, wince-inducing, and gasp-worthy, Everybody Bleeds is a truly engaging, if sometimes painful, read with twists that continue through the final page.

Although the flashbacks throughout the story can be somewhat confusing, the plot does eventually clarify itself and tie together. The bigger problem comes from occasional typos and punctuation errors. Readers have to pay close attention to determine where dialogue begins and ends because quotation marks are frequently missing. Apart from these proofing errors, Everybody Bleeds is a solid and original thriller.