Author: SE Jakes writing as Stephanie Tyler
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Unknown
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 10/30/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Crime Fiction, Fiction, Gay
Jacoby Razwell has been a grifter, a vic and an FBI agent in WITSEC…
He’s also the brother of a serial killer.
Jacoby Razwell comes from a family of gypsies, tramps and thieves…but when he discovers that his sister, Jessica, is a killer, he immediately tries to extricate himself from her. In retaliation, his sister leaves him badly scarred, words of warning carved into his body. He immediately runs to Special Agent Ward Thayer, the man in charge of the unsolved murders that Jacoby knows his sister is behind.
Ward takes him in and puts him under the FBI’s protection. But Jacoby wants more, and, after a year of cooperating with the FBI, he insists on entrance to the Academy. Jacoby completes the training at Quantico with flying colors, and soon he’s hunting Jessica—and other serial killers—next to Ward. They’ve become partners at work and partners at home…until Jessica finds a way to tear them apart.
Now, charged with protecting a witness who has his own dangerous secrets to hide, Jacoby and Ward must attempt to bring Jessica to justice at last, all the while knowing that this time they’ll have to run toward danger and put their lives—and their relationship—on the line.
The set-up is complicated and it got my mind working, ready to settle into this story. Many questions began brewing and I hoped they’d be answered or, at least, replaced with more interesting questions. I did feel some early confusion in trying to keep everything straight from the beginning, as we’re dumped right into the story. For this approach to work, the players and their goals need to be clearly defined, providing a place for the reader to plant their flag while things play out and details revealed. Be ready to hit the ground running with this one!
It was also clear early on that the warm-and-fuzzies would be few and far between in this story. These characters, Jacoby Razwell and Ward Thayer, are mature and have seen their fair share of life. It kind of just hit me that the story wasn’t quite at the same level of the characters in that maturity. I had been trying to put my finger on it and I think I just did: these guys, along with Bren and Jessica and the rest, are well-crafted characters, all with their own sets of emotions and motivations, but the story carrying them is a little meandering and drawn out, which then cuts into the intensity that tries to build throughout.
On that same train, these characters speak and react like adults, both in action and language used. I appreciate that muchly. Each of these people has a clear path in this story, even if it takes them awhile to traverse it.
From the first, he’d known Ward was both capable of taking care of him and handling him – two very similar things with a very distinct difference.
This is the moment I started feeling solidly connected with these characters. It took a while to happen but it definitely did.
Some of the dialogue goes on for a few pages and it was easy to lose track of who was saying what. Most of the time, they added to the forward progress of the story but, in having to backtrack, some of that momentum was thwarted. And I did have to backtrack because important stuff was happening and I didn’t want to miss something, as so much was going on all at once.
This is not an easy read. Some difficult subjects and experiences are parts of the lives of these characters and all of them are being dealt with. This fact and the characters are the two brightest highlights for me in this story. I rarely give warnings inside the body of my reviews but heed the tags for this book.
On the other side of this coin are some of the actions characters take during and after some of the discussions about these life-changing events. I want to be careful here. I’ve never been tortured or abused. Still, I found it difficult to accept, for example, Jacoby and Ward falling into bed as they’re graphically discussing some of the worst of it all. Again, I do not assume to know how every single person would behave in this situation but it rang unrealistic to me, too far into the “hurt-comfort” type of story, lessening the impact of it all.
This is a densely packed story in terms of moving parts, character histories, past connections between them, current events, and the number of conflicts that need resolution. I did sometimes wonder if I would get to those resolutions. I did, however, find myself thinking about the story between readings, wanting to know what was going to happen next.
This is a unique story in plot and its twists. I’ve not read one with this particular set of circumstances and questions that needed answering. In the end, I did find myself pulling for Jacoby and Ward, despite the sometimes choppy portrayal of their relationship and its many facets, which itself themselves are definitely positive aspects of the book.
The writing is confident and is mostly successful in conveying and evoking emotion. There were periods where the connection between me and the characters was weakened by the weight of the story itself. This one missed the mark in some ways but succeeded in others for me. On paper, this story has it all with the fully formed characters, clever if drawn out plotting, and strong writing. Despite these things, it missed the mark for me in some ways while succeeding in others. I’m guessing, though, that this is one of those books that will have reactions across the board, including those will love every minute. I have not read book one and I think you’d be able to read this as a standalone.
If you love your FBI agents, murder-centered plots, troubled history between your main characters, and some dirty talkin’ for most excellent measure, you’re likely to find a lot of enjoyment in this book.
I would like to thank the author for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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