Leaving Phoenix

Fiction - Suspense
346 Pages
Reviewed on 03/14/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Jafe Danbury hails from the trenches of the Hollywood production scene, where he spent decades as a camera operator, director of photography, and director. He has also worked as a teacher and is a decorated U.S. Navy veteran.

He enjoys noodling on the guitar, long road trips, likes his bacon crispy, and loves a good dive bar––especially if it happens to have a twenty-two-foot shuffleboard table. He prefers a leisurely walk to running, unless being chased by a clown with a chainsaw.

Jafe and his lovely bride currently reside in central California and are working on their exit plan. Their children consist of several rescue dogs and a couple of cockatoos.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite

Leaving Phoenix by Jafe Danbury is a powerful suspense thriller about a young woman, who, in tracking her mother’s killer, discovers more about her dark past. Rose LaFlamme is having an abortion after being impregnated by a ruthless man that she calls the Pirate. This man drops her off at a shady abortion clinic and gives her some money for the procedure. In a miracle, Rose’s aborted fetus has an undetected twin sister which survived that Rose decides to keep. But the Pirate tracks down Rose and kills her. As if the scenario of being a surviving twin of a successfully-murdered would-be sibling is not enough, Phoebe, the surviving child, must set aside the thought that her mother tried to abort her because she wasn’t worth the trouble. She is the key to finding her mother’s killer. Other than that, her quest for the truth, her longing for family, and for connections, needs to be fulfilled.

While reading Leaving Phoenix, the plot sticks with you and you become so invested that you want to find out what happens next, This novel is likely to earn strong reviews by word of mouth. Now is precisely the time for this novel. It is intense and often gripping to read, but it is also highly satisfying as you put yourself in the shoes of a young woman who must unravel her past and face a dark truth. Jafe Danbury displays a well-crafted treatment of tone and pacing, as well as a well-fleshed-out protagonist that you will truly care about. Danbury kneads the tension slowly, allowing Phoebe to accumulate resilience and intelligence as she gets closer to the truth. A must-read for any lovers of suspense and mystery, Leaving Phoenix is a heart-pounding and profoundly suspenseful novel that reaches an enormously satisfying arc.

M Byler

I liked this book so much that I read it twice already! Very well written!I love the story, I love the characters! And it takes place in my area (Monterey County).mentioning lots of familiar places.
Last but not least: it has an amazing “soundtrack”

El J

"As far as thrillers go, Danbury has covered all the bases. Main character, Phoenix Laflamme is resilient, driven, and unshakable. Her mission to find the man who murdered her mother leads her down a dangerous road and puts her face to face with ghosts of her own. Cover to cover, Danbury’s writing packs a punch and hits all the major elements needed for a successful thriller–romance, action, heartache, and perseverance." ~ Literary Titan

Jay Arby

A thoroughly enjoyable and nostalgic roadtrip adventure with characters you really care about, and a highly original plot structure. Cearly, a lot of research went into writing this, and...the soundtrack...amazing! A very original work and highly recommended. This would make a great movie.


Great book, heartwarming story, satisfying ending. A road trip with twists and turns--and speaking of turns, this one is a page turner! Somewhat familiar with the locations, but not too many of the song references. I love the way this author writes, with great detail and insight. I found an Easter Egg buried in the plot--see if you can find it too. Hint--you would have to have read his first book, "The Other Cheek." Which I also highly recommend. Great work, Jafe! I know you worked hard on this one, with careful research to get facts correct.

Renee C.

What an exciting read! Your description of the characters and how they all fit into Phoenix’s adventure completely brought each one to life and evoked so many emotions. Having lived on the Monterey Peninsula on and off for most of my life, I felt like I was riding in the back seat as the characters drove down familiar roads, or that I was sitting a table or two away at Fandango’s watching a young couple on their first date while I ended my evening enjoying their Soufflé Grand Marnie. As i turned each page I was excited to see how it ended, and at the same time I didn’t want the book to end. Great job Mr. Danbury, your Phoenix did truly rise from the ashes.


Leaving Phoenix will take you on the ultimate road trip through a journey of loss, mystery, revenge, and love…all while riding in a pretty bad ass car! The many references to the music, locations, and events of the 70’s helped make me feel more connected the story. A page turner for sure, just like the author’s first book! Highly recommend this ride!

David Donovan

Some people have fate poured over them from a bucket of mucky ice water. You could not imagine a more difficult entrance into this world; a miracle survival; tacit witness to her own mother’s murder - as arson consumes all she had in the world. A child stumbling scared - into the world of orphanages and uncertainty; to land softly in the arms of a doting adoptive father. Secure in a loving home; a mysterious letter brings a big, wet shadow of the past and drops it in her lap. A murder mystery ensues. This is where the adventure begins…

The author, Jafe Danbury, has a liquidity in his wordsmanship, elucidating a constant flow of imagery. From the first paragraph you are in the flow. Reading his work is a pleasure.
If you enjoy this new pulse pounding thriller, find out about "love taps" in his previous book, The Other Cheek.

The Book Dragon

Another excellent book by Jafe Danbury..of The Other Cheek fame.
Jafe has hit it out of the park with this Thriller. What do a Firebird, a Phoenix and a cryptic letter from a mysterious stranger have in common? They come together to answer the question of an adoptee named Phoebe who is desperate for answers. This was one wild ride back into the past and hurtles you back to present day.
If you are looking for an edge of your seat ride in the passenger seat of one of the best thrillers I have read in a long time, Leaving Phoenix is it.
Don’t delay, hitch a ride with Phoebe today!


Awsome page turner! Couldn't put it down. The story moves at a good pace, each chapter's ending leaving you with that great feeling of, "I can't wait to see what happens next!" The travel scenes are so descriptive that it makes you want to visit the places. (Not being from the west coast I had to Google them to see if they were real. Thankfully, they are!) Truly clever story with believable and well thought out characters, and a surprisingly unique act of revenge! Only Jafe's second novel, "Leaving Phoenix" has left me chomping at the bit, waiting on number 3.

K. Banando

A very hard book to put down. I wanted to just be left alone so I could read it to the exciting conclusion.
Thank you for a wonderful story. I especially enjoyed the details. You made it real.

Nathan S.

Checks all the boxes and then some! I won't mention them as it would take to much time and give too much away. Definitely a page turner! Oh, I must mention the music playlists in the book, perfect! Most writers take 10 books if ever, to get to this level. Jafe has done it in 2!
Well done Mr. Danbury, well done!

Jan T.

Excellent writing, this page-turner was difficult to put down! Not for the faint hearted, with some language and adult themes, but a well crafted mystery, quite the surprise ending! Thought provoking!

Lucy J.

Another great read from this award-winning author! A super fast paced story with great characters and a lovely local flavor. I greatly enjoyed this thriller. Can’t wait for the next one!

Prairie Gal

The author introduced you to our heroine and you travel this journey of self-discovery with her, sharing her trials, dangers and emotional upheavals. All the while being dipped in the nostalgia of the '70s. More than once I wanted to reach out a protective hand, especially when she has to comfort the evil rooted in her past. I wanted more at the end, more of these bigger than life characters, more of her bravery and resilience. A great read.

Mel Woosley

Leaving Phoenix is about family and friends helping our girl, Phoebe, discover the truth about her past.

As she walks through the door of her past, unexpected events trigger that are filled with challenges both mentally and physically that she needs to harness to get evil out of her life.

If you enjoy classic cars and open roads, music, a true love story and all the mysteries in between you have got to give Leaving Phoenix a read.

Reg G.

Jafe's second novel shows how he can paint pictures with words and develop a fast moving plot which very quickly draws in the reader. It soon becomes the proverbial page-turner. The characters are very effectively fleshed out and thoroughly believable. He's not afraid to tackle some painful human experiences early on in the novel and has the originality to give the heroine's love interest a very unusual profession. Just as well this isn't a "scratch and sniff" book! The novel smacks of meticulous research into people and places while still remaining a highly readable thriller. A love of animals, people, cars and, most of all, classic rock music is woven throughout the novel, Truly something for everyone! Roll on book number three, Jafe.

Khyati G.

This book effectively brings out the character of Phoebe as a girl who finds herself as she comes face to face with the dark truths of her life. Jafe does a good job at serving us a crime thriller peppered with musical references and picturesque vistas of Arizona and Monterey Country. The character development very well complements the development of the plot that brings back the nostalgia of the 70s dipped in music.

Jafe's writing has an attention to detail. Details that bring alive the narrative and makes it easier for readers to relate to it. I am in awe of his ability to talk about his characters candidly as if he has been friends with them forever!

Leaving Phoenix is dramatic and absorbing. Grim and fun with its variety of characters. Phoebe wins hearts but I absolutely loved her Pop Pop too. He's darn cute! For some reason, I didn't find the thrilling part completely baffling. Nonetheless, it is a good read for those who love contemporary fiction. Check this out for Jafe's wonderful writing and some song recommendations.



Filled with danger and emotional disruptions, the author has presented us with astonishing mystery fiction. I couldn’t stop myself but empathize with Pheobe, there were moments when my heart just wanted to be with her to save her from the evils on her trail.

Leaving Pheonix is a heartening story of a twenty-something girl whose life transforms as she discovers the hints to know about her roots and past. Phoebe, the protagonist, is an adopted child to pop-pop, was leading a peaceful life until she receives a mysterious letter passing on the evidence about her mother’s whereabouts. Curious Pheobe couldn’t stop herself but steps in to discover the unforeseen dangers of her life. Why are those dangers entitled to her and who was Rose? Why was she left to be adopted? An invisible seatbelt grips you as you turn each page of this thrilling book.

The book is everything that a reader expects from a fiction mystery. The writing is captivating and the story is developed at a consistent pace giving space to every character.

Literary Titan

There is actually no reason Phoenix should be alive and breathing. There is, indeed, every reason for her to never have made it to ever see the light of day. Hers is a life born of violence, tragedy, and a series of true wonders. As an adult, she is finally learning her truth. After being adopted and living with a loving father, it is revealed to Phoenix that she not only has a biological family member still alive, but he very much wants to meet her. Thus begins the long journey to meet a man she has never known and the first steps to solving her mother’s tragic murder.

Leaving Phoenix, by Jafe Danbury, is the thrilling tale of Phoenix Laflamme’s extraordinary life and the past that haunts her. She is, in her own right, a miracle. The last night she saw her mother, Phoenix was an unwitting witness to her murder. She alone holds the key to finding the person responsible after twenty years. Small details–memories–are being triggered as she slowly tells her side of the story.

Danbury is a master storyteller. Phoenix’s life is nothing short of a miracle, and the intricate plot he lays out for his main character traces her life from conception through her fearless resolve to find her mother’s killer at any cost. Phoenix is a phenomenal main character and is a picture of strength and determination. The relationship she is able to form with her grandfather after two decades with her adoptive father is touching and quite amazing. In addition, her willingness to relive the past is truly a testament to her incredible strength of character.

The relationship brewing between Phoenix and Curt makes for a beautiful tale of kindness and hope. In a story that could be fraught with darkness, their willingness to help one another adds a sweet element to the story. Curt’s character is the perfect addition to Phoenix’s mission.

As far as thrillers go, Danbury has covered all the bases. Main character, Phoenix Laflamme is resilient, driven, and unshakable. Her mission to find the man who murdered her mother leads her down a dangerous road and puts her face to face with ghosts of her own. Cover to cover, Danbury’s writing packs a punch and hits all the major elements needed for a successful thriller–romance, action, heartache, and perseverance.

Daniele S

Every description and detail meticulously planned out to perfection to really bring this story and characters to life. A book you can't put down but wish to never really finish because you don't want the story to end. Truly a thrilling ride of a story. And I love the mention of the best bakery in Montery County, Hilltop Bakery because they really do have the best lemon blueberry cheesecake .

An author and books worth reading. Definitely will become a mainstay book in my small personal favorites collection.


A crime thriller, yes, but also psychological and very deep. A girl who led a normal life had to face danger only because of her curiosity to find her origins. In a way, we might think why would she do it, but them...well, it is human to want to know where are you coming from. I liked the author's writing and the character development. I will check for more books from him. Rating - 5, well deserved, stars.

Phyllis B.

This was the first book I read by this author, but it won’t be the last! It was a exhilarating thriller with heartfelt characters. The writing was wonderful. The basic premise is that Phoebe (main Character) was adopted at age 5. In her twenties she begins to receive letters alluding to information about her past, so she sets out to find out about her family. The descriptions of the scenery was beautiful and I loved the music references


LEAVING PHOENIX by Jafe Danbury was an incredible novel. He has a compelling writing style, detailed and spot on, keeping on edge or chilled - all in the right moment. I felt like I was with Phoebe during her journey, I loved how she grew and coped with the secrets of the family. A novel you should experience! Recommended


Phoebe's story is breathtaking. I was rooting for her though the entire novel. Her search for her biological parents was really thrilling. I absolutely loved this book. I highly recommend it.


I read this book over Memorial Day Weekend and I could hardly put it down! I love a good mystery, my favorite author is Agatha Christie so this was the perfect genre for me. Jafe also is a master of describing a scene, just like Dame Christie. Perhaps it is his experience behind a film camera that has inspired this ability in his writing. This book would certainly make a great film.

I was also impressed with how well the author wrote in the voice of the female lead. She was strong and independent, but also soft and vulnerable. He did a great job researching the story which spans twenty five years and multiple locations. The book also has a great sound track. Yes, that's right, a sound track. I absolutely loved the use of lyrics and other musical references in this book.

Overall, a great read that will keep you on the edge of your seat and rooting for the "good guys" till the very end.

Lisa F.

Great thriller! I just finished Leaving Phoenix and thoroughly enjoyed this fast paced, exciting thriller. The complexity of the main character was very well written. All characters were well developed and I easily had a mental vision of each.

Really enjoyed all the musical references. The writer clearly has a huge appreciation for music and instruments, especially guitars.

I loved the settings, especially Monterey, Carmel and Salinas, as I'm quite familiar with the area and could visualize speeding down Reservation Road and seeing the wonderful agriculture there. I also appreciated the acknowledgement of how vital the agricultural workers are and how they are integral to bringing produce to our tables.

I highly recommend this book!

Chris T.

What a terrific read! Phoebe’s journey from Phoenix and to Phoenix is cleverly told. Enough emotion is mixed in to draw you into each character. Jafe has a knack for using his own experiences - mainly locales, music, and food to bring his family of characters alive. Thanks for the ride, Jafe! I don’t think I’ll be drinking a Tab any time soon. Oy!


Absolutely Great!
This book has it all. Thrills, suspense, murder and a bit of romance thrown in. Utterly engaging and memorable characters and great forward moving plot development make this a must read. It certainly took my mind off of my troubles as I read this great story. Thank you, Mr. Danbury, for a job well done! I will definitely read your other book and recommend Leaving Phoenix to friends.

Ashley H., Reader Views

“Leaving Phoenix” is full of heartwarming moments and hold your breath events. The author has created characters who are believable. The budding romance between Phoenix and Curt bring a refreshing side-story to a heart racing plot. This gritty tale is also full of iconic music lyrics from the 1970s and forward.

“Leaving Phoenix” by Jafe Danbury is easy and fun to read. It is void of grammatical errors, and while there is use of adult language, it was not excessive. I would recommend this book to adults who enjoy a thriller, romance, and a throwback to the days of rock-n roll."

Blair B

A thriller unlike any other!

This book is a one-of-a-kind read. It follows the story of Phoebe, an introverted 25 year old woman living with her adoptive father whom she lovingly calls Pop-Pop. They receive a letter from her previously unknown biological grandfather asking Phoebe to visit him in California so she can learn about her early childhood and her birth mother.

Phoebe embarks on a road trip, interspersed with homemade cassette tape mixes and plenty of curiosity, and arrives to California only to learn that her birth mother was murdered in an arson fire by her biological father. Though he was never caught, her grandfather continued diligent work on the case for decades and enlists the help of Phoebe, whose birth name is Phoenix, and his young friend/handyman Curt to prove that her father, The Pirate, is guilty of murder.

It is an engrossing story of self-discovery, justice, and young love. I cannot recommend it highly enough! Five stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If you have a chance, check out his first novel as well, The Other Cheek.

Debbie B.

Suspenseful, thrilling, rollercoaster ride!
Absolutely fantastic book! This author Jafe Danbury is an extremely talented writer! The character development, use of descriptive adjectives, detailed and specific locations, suspenseful plot twists, and perfectly chosen song lyrics — all make for a fabulous read. The book was difficult to put down, and after quickly finishing, I was still thinking about the story and characters, and will read the book again at a more leisurely pace. As a grammar nerd, I appreciated the well-written, easy-to-read flow. I especially enjoyed the chapters jumping back and forth between the heroine and villain. This story would be a great movie, especially with the music soundtrack. I highly recommend this book Leaving Phoenix, and this author Jafe Danbury.

Donna W.

You fall in love with the characters and want to know what happens with them. A unsolved murder is a part of the twist. Totally enjoyable story!

Amanda B.

Holy Prickly Pears! Meep Meep! Leaving Phoenix will leave you breathless! This is the most amazing book I have read this year. Phoenix is literally my hero, as her name suggests she rises like a Phoenix from the ashes. This book has it all, love, humor and mystery. I literally could not get enough! I hope that Mr.Danbury comes out with his own mix tape to this amazing book! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Luce Wood

What a ride! This book is an intense read. Murder, mystery, family reunification, unsolved crimes, and so much more. The Author has a real talent for creating a story that spans decades and brings all the drama, suspense, action, and thrills to a head within a few days time with the amazing journey of young Phoenix. Phoenix, the main character, embarks on a journey of self discovery after receiving a shocking letter from her natural Grandfather. She is determined to find out where she came from, what really happened to her birth mother, and who her birth family really are. In just a few short days on this soul-searching journey, Phoenix meets some remarkable people, solves the decades old mystery of her birth Mother's death, and reunites with her Grandfather. You will be introduced to many remarkable characters (including 3 special dogs) and feel like you are sitting in the passenger's seat during the entire adventure. The thrilling scenes, stunning scenery, and fascinating characters will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. All that said, as thrilling, intense, and fast-paced as this story is, the Author has found a way to insert bits of comedy in the most unusual and creative ways that I have not seen before. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a story with thrills, suspense, murder mysteries, family ties, and romance brewing in the background.

Marty O. B.

A very engaging story line. The characters come alive, enhanced by the attention to detail and excellent story development. I enjoyed the mix of suspense and subtle humor. Living in the same general area and also having lived in Phoenix, the plot became all the more real. I highly recommend Leaving Phoenix to anyone who enjoys a fascinating literary experience.

Cheryl Beintema

Great book!

Ronnie B.

Captivating, loved it!
What an enjoyable read! Loved the characters as they kept me completely engaged. As a mom myself, I felt connected to Phoenix at many levels. I found myself rooting for her throughout the book. I also really enjoyed the Authors first book "The Other Cheek" which I highly recommend as well. I would love to see "Leaving Phoenix" become a movie.

L. Murray

AWESOME STORY! What a thrilling ride of a book! This is a new to me author .With a great play list of music of mostly classic rock and a great story line, it hit all the right notes. Phoebe/Phoenix always knew she was adopted but had no idea of the circumstances until a cryptic letter takes her on a deep dive into a past she had forgotten and her search for answers brings he face to face with a serial killer. Awesome story that just keeps building. Will be so curious to read more stories from this talented author.

Theresa F.

I loved this book. It was always about love. A young girl witnesses the murder of her mother. It’s not until 20 years later that she remembers. Her adoption family is her everything. But a letter from her grandpa changes her life. The journey back 20 years is well written. I recommend reading this book and go along for the ride. I have read 2 books by this author and will continue to read his books. Hope a third book is out soon.