By Tekla Dennision Miller
There are men who take women’s lives. There are men who kill their souls. . . . Celeste Brookstone has the ideal life. On the surface. When her daughter takes a job with the Michigan prison system, she fears for Pilar’s safety. But she’s glad Pilar’s away from the hell on earth Marcus Brookstone has created within his own home. Pilar Brookstone is an idealist. She thinks she can change things, make inmates’ lives a little better. And never, ever make the mistake her mother made. Chad Wilbanks is a serial killer. He is serving life. Eight young women were his victims. Is he about to take his ninth? Men who kill the women who love them.
Life Sentences is a work of fiction about love, loss, betrayal and murder. It is inspired by Ms. Miller’s experiences while employed by the Michigan Department of Corrections, the last six years as a warden for both a women's and a men's maximum security prisons. Though there are few books written on the subject of women who love and marry prisoners, it is not unusual for such relationships to develop even between employee and inmate. Life Sentences is not only a peek inside a prison, but it is an examination of a little known aspect about which the public appears curious.
Chapter One: Graduating
The serial killer was sentenced to life without parole on the same morning Pilar Brookstone graduated from medical school. Her mother shared the news as Pilar queued for the processional. Now, stepping away from the provost's handshake, the new Dr. Brookstone was still thinking about her mother's announcement. "Chad Wilbanks is permanently off the streets," Celeste had said as though presenting Pilar with an extra-special gift. "You'll feel safe enough to come home, at last."
On this of all days, Pilar didn't want to think about the murders or the man responsible This was her moment to concentrate on the diploma she clutched to her chest, the sweet triumph of a hard-won degree. But instead, memories of her friend Susan Mitchell rose up to block Pilar's view of her classmates. Chad Wilbanks had first charmed Susan, then brutally murdered her. Susan was a statistic now, one of eight young women Wilbank's victimized during a vicious two-year spree near the University of Michigan.
Would Pilar feel safe in either Ann Arbor or in her Gross Pointe Shores home now? True, she had left medical school there because of the murders, transferred to the University of Wisconsin after the first year. But Cleste's words brought no real comfort, because in the intervening years Pilar had come to realize fear of Chad Wilbanks was not the real reason she dreaded going home.
"LIFE SENTENCES is a thrilling, complex, exciting story that will capture your attention from the start. LIFE SENTENCES will take you down a road never traveled before, and introduce you to the world of criminals and prisons."
- Carolyn Crisher, Romance Reviews Today
"The novel is a fast-paced thriller populated by three-dimensional characters who stay with the reader long after the last page is turned."
- Jim Greenhill, Durango Herald
"Miller takes this real life phenomenon and crafts it into a gripping tale that can give readers the chills. She portrays prison life with vivid detail, and she fashions her characters with care and depth."
- Leslie Doran
"Tekla's intimate knowledge of the prison system and those who inhabit it grabs and moves you quickly into a story that isn't easily put down. Her attention to details of her character's behaviors make a story not only believable, but intensely human. A great read about a phenomenon which is as fascinating as it is incredible."
- Susan Koonce, PhD