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Deception–things are not as they seem
by Patricia Bradley
Action and tension are abundant in Patricia Bradley’s Deception, the fourth book in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers Series. Madison, the protagonist, is a special agent with the Investigative Services Branch. After the bust of a human trafficking ring in Big Bend in which Madison’s partner is killed, she decides to switch gears and work in a white collar crimes division. She is good at both jobs.
In Mississippi she goes to visit her beloved grandfather, a retired judge, and things turn ugly and violent. A woman who could be Madison’s doppelgänger is attacked. Who is she and which one of the two was actually targeted? There is also a missing girl who was being rescued from her pimp. Could she have been the target? Madison is convinced that a suicide being investigated is in fact a homicide. This novel borders on being a police procedural as there are so many agencies involved.
The book has some romance as Madison is helped by Clayton, a former childhood friend, who is now a ranger in charge of a district in the Natchez Trace. Another interesting character is Nadine, the judge’s longtime housekeeper. She is in her eighties. She doesn’t say a lot, but she is a very careful observer and has great hearing.
Deception has lots of twists to the plot, and the characters not only have secrets, but many really do actively deceive. Madison turns to Clayton to try to understand forgiveness. He explains how he has forgiven others who have hurt him: “Because God forgave me for all the ways I’ve hurt others.” “I didn’t [do the forgiving]. God did it in me. But I had to give up my right to be angry and resentful.”
A huge part of the plot involves adoptions and family history, but all of these seemingly disparate threads tie together quite dramatically when the mysteries are resolved. Deception is my first exposure to this author. I definitely plan on reading more by her. It was an exciting book, and I like the way she gently wove Christian beliefs into a suspenseful tale.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Category: Suspense, Christian, Romance
Notes: #4 in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers Series. It is enjoyable as a standalone, but I wish I had read the first ones. The first chapter dives into a previous time frame that sets up Madison’s reason for turning to white collar crime investigation and is easily understood. Then as the plot turns to current events, a lot of characters are introduced (or maybe reintroduced?). I pushed through that and because the plot is the focus, it all sorted itself out. I’m glad I persevered for a few chapters.
Publication: August 2, 2022—Revell
“He was this important businessman, and Mom always told me not to bother him. When he was at home it was like tiptoeing on eggshells, but at least he wasn’t home much.”
Sister. She loved the way the word wrapped around her heart. It sounded as though neither of their lives had been rosy, but perhaps this could be a new start for both of them.
He got the impression Madison didn’t trust many men. And after meeting her father, he could understand why. And then there was a the FBI agent who tried to ill her.
Dead of Winter–being there for others
Dead of Winter
by Annelise Ryan
As snowstorm after snowstorm blows through the U.S., I am reading about similar circumstances in Wisconsin where Mattie Winston, a medico-legal death investigator and former OR and ER nurse, is involved in several cases. The primary focus of Dead of Winter by Annelise Ryan is the brutal death of a teenage girl whose little sister is also missing. In addition, Mattie has to investigate the death of the director of a local theater group which includes Dom who is her friend, the partner of her boss, and also the caregiver for her son.
The investigation of all three crimes moves along at a pace that is frustrating to those involved, especially locating the missing child who is obviously in danger. Interwoven with the professional issues is Mattie’s personal life with her husband, his teenage daughter, and their two-year old son. The little one is a challenge if left alone even briefly. Mattie juggles motherhood with a part-time job that holds full-time intensity.
I originally thought, when I read my first book (#8) in this series that the descriptions at the morgue would be too graphic for me. Because the setting is one of compassion from the coroner, the EMT’s, and the law enforcement officers, that was not the case. I appreciate the author’s ability to show how those who are tasked with solving crimes and helping victims are able to work their cases, maintain their personal relationships, and perform daily necessary tasks. Balancing all of those roles must be very difficult. Clues don’t always pan out. Sometimes even strong people get sick. Kids can misbehave at the most inopportune of times. Lovers quarrel. But the author shows how those we depend on show up and do their best regardless of the chaos in their own lives.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #10 in the Mattie Winston Mystery Series, but the author encapsulates the series background handily for the new reader.
Publication: February 26, 2019—Kensington Press
“It seems easy at first because you’re so in love with a person, and you feel like you’d be willing to sacrifice anything, do anything, be anything, just so you can be with them. But eventually the shiny finish on that new relationship wears off, revealing the rust and dull metal beneath. And after a while, you start to question how much of yourself you’re willing to give up to make someone else happy.”
…he’s as nervous as a blind man navigating a floor covered with thumbtacks…”
Amazing that so much beauty can come out of all that meteorological fury.
The Spy Who Never Was–pretending to be Julie, called Chris, with code name Rose
The Spy Who Never Was
by Tom Savage
The Spy Who Never Was poses a mystery within a thriller as Nora Baron, drama teacher and part time CIA operative, is recruited to play the role of a spy who has disappeared, but never actually existed—according to Cole, head of the investigation. The mission is never quite clear to Nora, even as it suddenly reaches its conclusion and she is congratulated and sent back home. At this point the thriller is far from over for any of its characters.
Nora finds herself in the ultimate danger and discovers she is both naive and talented. She is aided by friends from previous missions along with new friends she learns to trust along the way. With interesting characters, settings in Paris and Switzerland, a complex plot, and some believable action, this is a book you will not want to put down.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Random House (Alibi) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery and Thriller
Notes: #3 in the Nora Baron series; works well as a standalone
Publication: January 9, 2018—Alibi (Random House)
Professional agents knew their jobs, and they thought that no one outside their charmed circle possessed the imagination to do what they did. Now Nora could use their arrogant blind spot to her advantage.
Nora was working for phantoms, agents who were every bit as insubstantial as the paper woman they represented: the spies who never were.
…the words she shouted weren’t in the débutante handbook.