With Wanton Disregard


Fiction - Crime
311 Pages
Reviewed on 05/17/2019
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

GWEN BANTA - BIOGRAPHY

Born in Binghamton, NY, Gwen Banta received B.A. and M.S. degrees from Butler University and earned a language certification from The Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. Her first novel, “The Fly Strip,” is a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the racial and social unrest of rural Indiana in 1960. Filled with humor as well as pathos, “The Fly Strip," published in 2016, has received great critical acclaim.

The author has received numerous awards for her fiction, including the Opus Magnum Discovery Award for New Literature-Honorable Mention. She is the winner in the Unpublished Stories category in multiple book festivals throughout the nation and abroad: Great Northwest Book Festival, Los Angeles Book Festival, Pacific Rim Book Festival, San Francisco Book Festival, and the Great Southeast Book Festival. The author has also written several screenplays and has placed in the Writer’s Project, Columbine International Screenwriting Competition, Ohio Film Festival and the People’s Pilot project.

An award-winning actress of stage, screen, and television, Gwen is a member of SAG-AFTRA and Equity. When not writing, Gwen is a top producing Global Advisor and real estate specialist for Sotheby’s International Realty, where she represents many major musicians. Gwen is an avid supporter of Global Green International and resides in Los Angeles with her dog, Buddy, who is a major fan of all her books.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

With Wanton Disregard is a graphic and gripping crime novel by author Gwen Banta. The plot takes place in the exclusive Long Beach area of Belmont Shore, where the high-gloss lives of the well to do people mask a seedy underbelly filled with crime and secrets. Our hard boiled detective is Tim Mulrooney, a grisly but likeable figure who has reached a challenging point in his life after many years working on cases. Everything changes for Tim when he begins investigating the death of prominent physician Scott Connolly, particularly when Tim meets Lauren, Scott’s wife. The grieving widow is the prime suspect, but Tim’s instant attraction to her gives him cause to doubt. What follows is a twisting, sexy mystery as we wonder whether we’re following our hero to his own doom, or his salvation.

I adored With Wanton Disregard from cover to cover. I’m not usually one for crime novels, especially those which are quite explicit, but Gwen Banta’s character work kept me riveted from start to finish. Tim Mulrooney was a somewhat tragic action hero, likeable in spite of his flaws and believably capable in his capacity as a detective. I also found the plots of the crime and murder themselves to be really credible, interesting and genuinely unpredictable. And, although Lauren began the book as a certain type of character, which I didn’t think I would like, her development and the place she takes within the story as a whole were really satisfying elements. Overall, a highly recommended read for crime and mystery fans.

Ann Greyson

Tossing in plot device, With Wanton Disregard has enough suspects with the intention to keep the reader guessing who the killer is all the way through. The novel opens with the homicide of Dr. Scott Connolly whose body is in gruesome shreds, displaying his intestines all over his bed for a grisly murder scene in his home in the Belmont Shore high-rent district of Long Beach, California. In comes Tim Mulrooney, a detective for the Long Beach Police Department, not short of drama in his life as a divorcee pushing fifty years old, and recently suffering from a heart attack. Desperate to catch the perverse individual responsible for the crime, Mulrooney, a straightforward and sincere character, pulls you in this story and makes you want to be there for what comes next.

What is implicit from the title of the book is that the killer must have malice toward the victim. Yet, suspicions fall on Lauren Connolly, the wife of the victim, and Anya Gallien, her closest friend. Doubts arise from the discrepancies in Anya’s testimony and her failing a polygraph test, adding to the fact that a witness sees her exiting the Connolly house around the time of the murder, she becomes the chief suspect and for a spell is in the Sybil Brand Institute for Women. A sorrowful character with trouble in her past, Anya hails from Communist driven Romania. More pathetic is Anya, when she becomes suspicious of Lauren’s involvement in the crime, she is willing to protect her only friend at any cost even confessing to murder despite her innocence. Landing into such a mess and way in over her head, the reader has to wonder who will not empathize with the character of Anya?

The investigation heats up when a link between Scott Connolly’s murder connects to similar homicides of porn dealer Clarence Smolley and two other people at a peep show in Trenton, New Jersey. When selling Lauren’s favorite Thiebaud painting for money is not enough to cover his nasty drug habit and a few short-term loans, the gynecologist has been secretly recording himself having sex with women and putting the videos on thumb drives selling as pornography ending up in the hands of Smolley. This is yet another time in the novel that Gwen Banta doesn’t give you time to catch your breath before she hits you with another shocking twist.

With the clues pointing many directions, Tim Mulrooney must put forth a new theory as to who is responsible for the murder of Scott Connolly adding an element of suspense to the plot which is not the slam-dunk it appears to be from the start. With a writing style that is clear and immersive, With Wanton Disregard is a spellbinding thriller that has you from the first page to the very last.