Sinful Deception


Sinful Deception by M.A. Comley and Linda Prather (Deception Series Book Two) (Crime/Suspense/Thriller)

Sinful Deception brings back Alexandra Fox, the British police detective we met in Clever Deception and Tragic Deception. She continues to work for the New York City Police Department while she pursues the Escape Artist, a serial killer who tortured and murdered Alex’s sister in England and then fled to the U.S. The Escape Artist has taken a personal interest in Alex and taunts her, telling her he will punish her if she displeases him, thereby putting her friends, co-workers, and even her beloved pets in danger. Meanwhile, a number of badly mutilated dead bodies are turning up, three of them young girls, sending Alex and her partners investigating a complicated web of crime that reaches into a number of unexpected places. Little by little, however, she’s getting closer to the Escape Artist as he becomes bolder and more dangerous.

The story is told from multiple points of view, keeping the reader involved in what’s going on in the minds of all of the major characters and moving things along at a steady pace. Comley and Prather have created believable people we care about, and this book is hard to put down. The plot has many interesting twists and turns and is clever and complex without being confusing or overwhelming.

My one concern is that I believe a reader should be able to pick up any book in a series and understand what’s going on without knowledge of what happened previously. A good example of this is David Morrell’s Ruler of the Night, a book I thoroughly enjoyed without realizing it was number three in a series. With a few months and several other books intervening since I read Tragic Deception, it took me a while to remember who was who and what their relationships were, because explanations were minimal. I was quickly absorbed by the action and moved right into the story, and the characters sorted themselves out over time, but I still don’t know what Blake Morgan did previously that landed him in prison or why he and Alex seem to be mutually interested in each other but are doing nothing about it.

Grandma gives Sinful Deception four and a half stars. 4.5 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews Books received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tragic Deception


Tragic Deception by M.A. Comley and Linda S. Prather (Crime/Suspense/Thriller)

I read Clever Deception, the prequel novella to the Deception series, before breakfast, then immediately moved on to Tragic Deception and finished it the same day. Alex Fox is the type of believable heroine I appreciate, a less-than-perfect woman who keeps on going in spite of the odds and her own mistakes. In this book, she has moved to the U.S. from Great Britain, where she was on the police force, and is now working in New York City. She encounters the same anti-female bias from male counterparts in the NYPD as she experienced at home in Gloucester and has alienated quite a few of them, not the least of whom is her commanding officer. He suspends her for insubordination and gives her a mandate: solve a trio of high-profile infant kidnappings within the week or don’t come back.

The collaboration of authors Linda Prather and M.A. Comley – American  and British, respectively – gives authenticity to the character as a British transplant navigating the world of urban American law enforcement. Her British-isms amuse her fellow police officers, while their use of the vernacular confuses her. I enjoyed watching both grow to understand and appreciate each other almost as much as I enjoyed the fast-paced, engrossing story.

The frightening serial killer introduced in Clever Deception, the Escape Artist, has a presence but doesn’t dominate the book. He remains significant as Alex’s motivation for moving to New York, and even plays a part in the resolution of the kidnappings, but her life also moves on and is not simply an obsession with finding him. This realistic approach gives the character even more credibility and depth. I believe this series has great promise, and I look forward to the next book.

Grandma gives Tragic Deception five stars. 5 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received an ARC from the authors in exchange for an honest review.

Clever Deception


Clever Deception by M.A. Comley and Linda S. Prather (Crime/Suspense/Thriller)

This fast-moving novella sets the stage for the Deception series and introduces its heroine, British police officer Alexandra Fox — a no-nonsense woman doing her best to make it in a predominantly male profession, a situation made more difficult by heavily biased male leadership. The book also introduces the Escape Artist, a serial killer who has been targeting and brutally murdering the wives of men in law enforcement. Now the killer has set his sights on Alex and her family, and he begins communicating with her to make sure she knows.

Written by two New York Times best-selling novelists –one British and one American — this series is a brilliant collaboration of criminal fiction authors with backgrounds on two continents. Together, they have created a flawed but likeable heroine who captured my interest immediately and made me care about her future. I’m ready to see more of Alex Fox.

This book contains graphic violence intended to illustrate the depravity of the Escape Artist. While it made me cringe, it did not feel gratuitous.

Grandma gives Clever Deception five stars. 5 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free copy from the authors in exchange for an honest review.


The Girl in the Ice

The Girl in the Ice

The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza (Crime Thriller)

Grandma Says: The Girl in the Ice is a well-written, suspense-filled thriller set in South London in the UK. In addition to enjoying the setting, I was immediately drawn in by the pacing and characters. We briefly meet the socialite who will be murdered and found beneath the ice in a pond, then are introduced to Detective Erika Foster who has been chosen to lead the investigation into the girl’s death. Erika comes with plenty of her own baggage, a backstory that’s told with just enough detail to help explain her in-your-face attitude toward the girl’s high-society parents who do their best to control her investigation. Erika’s headstrong ways get her into plenty of trouble with her commanding officers and others, and her efforts are thwarted by male colleagues (who we know will get their comeuppance when she solves the case).

The story is told from multiple points of view, including that of the killer who is always kept gender-neutral, adding to the suspense right up to the end. While sometimes it was hard to believe that Erika’s commanding officer would be as understanding as he was in the face of outright mutiny, her relationships with her fellow investigators Moss and Peterson were credible and added to the story. As mentioned previously, the pacing was a major draw for me: things kept happening, and there was never a dull moment nor a sense of “why was that passage in there?” I did have to look up some British terms, such as “off-licence,” but that simply added to the sense of being in an interesting, unfamiliar setting.

I’m pleased to note that this is the first in a three-part crime thriller series. Erika Foster is a character I enjoy, and Bryndza’s writing is a treat.

Grandma gives The Girl in the Ice five stars.5 stars