Book Review: The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

The Dead Key is D.M. Pulley’s first book and the winner of the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award-Grand Prize and Mystery Thriller Fiction Winner. After reading and being immersed in this mystery, I can understand the awards. I lived and worked in Downtown Cleveland during both protagonists’ time periods and find this to be an intriguing fictional history and mystery of what happened to the old bank in 1978 and 1998 at 9th and Euclid.

Two timelines and protagonists come together to solve the mystery of the bank’s safe deposit boxes. In 1978, Beatrice Baker takes a secretarial job at 16 and begins to find that there are secrets to kill for at the First Bank of Cleveland. In 1998, Iris Latch is an engineer sent to the bank to do a floor to floor survey for buyers interested in the old bank building. She finds many rooms, offices and files exactly as they were the day the bank locked its doors in 1978. Even though there is a twenty year time span, both young women become endangered as they try to understand the importance of the keys to the safe deposit boxes in the vault.

I really enjoyed the two intertwining timelines and protagonists. Beatrice was a much more sympathetic and strong character. She faces extremely difficult personal problems and dangerous situations for her young age. Iris hates her job, parties too much and is not very responsible. I feel many of us at that age can relate to boring first office jobs, wanting to get away from home and few friends which can lead to bad judgement at times. Plot twists, spooky atmosphere and an interesting mystery makes for a very happy reader. I recommend this book highly.

Book Review: Lone Wolf by Sara Driscoll

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

If I see a book contains a suspense plot and a dog, I am definitely grabbing it! LONE WOLF (FBI K-9 #1) did not disappoint. The first in a new series by Sara Driscoll takes you inside the FBI K-9 unit and focuses on Meg Jennings and her dog, Hawk.

The action in this book takes off at the beginning with a bombing via drone of a government building by the National Mall in Washington, DC. Meg and her black Lab, Hawk, are sent into the aftermath for search and rescue. (The author gives a very realistic description of the scene and the work this team would do together.) This is just the start of this bomber’s agenda of revenge on government agencies he feels have destroyed his life. It is a race to find out who is behind this devastation and stop him before more innocents die.

The book is an easy to read thriller/suspense with a few graphic scenes of violence from the bombings. It is a page turner that will keep you engaged. Meg lives with her sister, Cara, who is a professional dog trainer and their dogs Hawk, Blink, a red brindle retired racing greyhound and Saki, a blue pit bull therapy dog. I especially loved this author’s take on pit bull bans, because I live with two pit bull rescues that I love dearly.  

With Clay McCord, a reporter from the Washington Post and Todd Webb, a firefighter and EMT, you have a bit of possible romance in future books. There are also two other teams of FBI K-9s, Brian with his German shepard, Lacie, and Lauren with her border collie, Rocco. There is a lot of information besides plot in this first book. I would like to see future books in this series have more attention given to character depth, but besides that, I felt this was a great start to a new series I will definitely be following!

Thanks very much to Kensington Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read the eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Heirloom by Edita A. Petrick

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RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I flew through this book! THE HEIRLOOM by Edita A. Petrick was a fast paced mash-up of CIA/FBI spy novel, supernatural novel with a witch’s heirloom locket that protects the rightful heir, corporate corruption by a cadre of CEO’s, and a psychologically damaged hitman who always succeeds. Scientific and supernatural coexist side by side throughout this fast paced thriller with romantic elements and irreverent humor.

CIA Agent Ted Bester “Beast” is called in to work with his counterpart in the FBI to solve a series of brutal killings that are all tied to a scientific conference on cold fusion that could radically change America’s energy dependence. The FBI has a source for him. Amelia is in an FBI safe-house because she was killed by the same hitman he is trying to find. (Yes, you read correctly – killed!)

Amelia now goes by ‘Randi” and is a doctor who was set to testify against corrupt pharmaceutical companies. Her heirloom amulet is passed down to first born daughters in her family from an ancestor witch from Salem who cursed all who harmed the owner. She survived her execution and is now able to sometimes slip into the hitman’s mind because he stole the amulet as a trophy.

The two work together with all the secondary characters you would expect in a usual spy thriller to find and eliminate the hitman and retrieve the cold fusion documents before they can be turned over to a foreign government.

Ms. Petrick has written a fast paced thrill ride that brings together many different genres into one. Even with all the characters and subplots, the writing is crisp and never confusing. This is a creative story with unexpected twists, especially in regards to the hitman.  The characters are well developed and believable. I cannot recommend this book enough and I can’t wait to read more from this author. If you want something different and well written, this is it!

Book Review: When All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz

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RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

When I want to curl up on the couch with a comfy blanket and tea to read without interruption, there are a few authors that I know I can sit down with their books and always be satisfied. Jayne Ann Krentz is one of those authors. WHEN ALL THE GIRLS HAVE GONE is one of those books.

Charlotte Sawyer is the average, steady, and some say naïve, director of activities at a senior retirement home. Her step-sister, Jocelyn is beautiful, adventurous and reckless. When Charlotte hears that Jocelyn’s best friend from her investment club has been found dead, she tries to contact Jocelyn at the retreat she is on. Jocelyn has disappeared and Charlotte is desperate to find her.

Max Cutler is starting his own P.I. firm after complete burnout from his criminal profiling job and his divorce that followed. He knows the job of finding out what really happened to Jocelyn’s friend won’t pay, but he is convinced to look into it. Charlotte is trying to find out what happened also and to find her sister so the two join forces.

There are two plotlines intertwined in this story. The investment club’s members are being targeted and disappearing and you have Jocelyn’s 16 year old rape case that was purposely derailed. Power, privilege, an escalating serial rapist and a friend that may not really be a friend all are fighting to silence Charlotte and Max.

Charlotte and Max were perfect together. Charlotte is very much the steady, optimistic character that isn’t boring, even though she believes she is, but you would want to have in your corner. Max is down and considers himself boring, but Charlotte sees him as steadfast and talented in his profession. The banter between these two had me smiling several times and the sex was well written. I liked that these characters weren’t looking for a relationship, but they fit.

I enjoyed this story and these characters as much as I knew I would. Sometimes in my romantic suspense reads, I don’t want super testosterone alpha males and either their matches in female form or the little woman that they rescue. Sometimes in my romantic suspense, I want normal, everyday characters that come together to become something more and when that happens it is great. Max has two ‘brothers’, so I expect this to be a trilogy.

Thanks very much to Berkley Publishing Group and Net Galley for allowing me to read an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Feature Blog: The Huntress/FBI Thriller Series by Alexandra Sokoloff

The Huntress/FBI Thriller Series:

huntress-moon #1      blood-moon #2

cold-moon #3    bitter-moon #4

 

I had always planned on doing a Feature Blog about this series and since I just posted my review of the fourth book in the series, Bitter Moon, I decided it might as well be now. I was lucky enough to be asked by Alexandra Sokoloff if I would be interested in reviewing her third book of the series, Cold Moon, many moons ago. Besides being the first book that I would seriously review for publication, it was also my introduction to Net Galley. I fell in love with both the series and the site!

If you are a reader like me, I could not start on the third book, so I went back and purchased the first, Huntress Moon and the second, Blood Moon. I am very happy that I did. This series, at least in my opinion, cannot and should not be read as standalones.

The characters, both main and secondary, are complex and three dimensional within the series. For me, that is one of Ms. Sokoloff’s greatest strengths in these stories. The plots are fast paced, intriguing and believable, but it is the characters that keep drawing me back. There is explicit violence in each book, but one of the main characters is a psychotic, serial-killer, vigilante so it is to be expected.

This is a must read series for me and I anxiously await the publication of each book. Ms. Sokoloff’s writing is superb. I recommend you start now. Four books is doable!

Book Review: Bitter Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

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RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

This is one of my “Must Read” series and I am always anxiously awaiting the next book. BITTER MOON (The Huntress/ FBI Thrillers, #4) does not disappoint! Alexandra Sokoloff has once again written an amazing plot and character study of a victim turned vigilante serial-killer and an obsessed and conflicted FBI agent balanced on the edge.

This fourth book of the series is told in alternating voices between Cara Lindstrom in the Past at age 14 and FBI Agent Matthew Roarke in the Present. In the past, Cara is sent to a group home after release from juvenile prison and as she begins to attend the local high school, she is once again confronted by her visualization and/or conception of evil she calls “It”. In the present, Roarke is on leave from his job and is trying to decide who he is and what he wants for his future. A cryptic call from a detective with unknown motives drags Roarke into Cara’s past and the still unsolved present day mystery of a sexual predator preying on young girls.

The two plot lines intertwine past and present without being confusing in any way. This in depth look at Cara’s past was extremely interesting. It was the turning point in her short life when she decides to no longer be a victim, but to actively seek out and destroy “It” in all its manifestations. Cara is one of my favorite characters. Victim, psychotic, seer, killer, predator. Every scene and situation makes me reconsider my feelings for her.

I recommend this series highly! I also feel this series should be read in order. The character evolution in both main and secondary characters grows with the series. There is graphic violence throughout the series, but I don’t feel it is ever gratuitous. Once again, waiting for the next book!