#10 Dying Breath by Helen Phifer

The woman’s face was pale and waxy. Her milky, partially open eyes stared into the distance. There were drag marks in the grass; she’d been placed here and posed. Who did this to you and why have they left you like this?

When a woman’s body is found on a lonely patch of scrubland, Detective Lucy Harwin is called to the scene. The victim’s clothes have been wrenched to expose her, and her feet are bare.

Lucy and her team have only just started investigating who could have wanted local mother Melanie Benson dead, when a young woman is discovered strangled in a dark alley. As more bodies appear in the run-down seaside town, the small community is gripped by fear, and the pressure to solve the case becomes unbearable. But with each victim dying in a different way, Lucy struggles to find a link between the murders. Are these random killings, or part of the same plan?

Just as she thinks she’s getting close, Lucy starts to suspect the killer is watching her. Can she find the murderer before they strike again, or will she be next?

Kindle | 268 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (23rd November 2017)

No surprises that I’m reading this straight off the back of the first book in the series. I’m liking what I’ve read so far (three chapters in), the characters are progressing well and the murderer sounds intriguing and more complex than I had imagined, I can’t wait to finish the book and reveal all.

This was very easy to read, it only took me an afternoon and I was totally gripped with what I was reading.

Really, Phifer gave such a treasure trove of characters in this book that I had many opportunities to formulate theories and judge the characters based on their actions. Phifer has a way of making characters be suspicious and twist the way you view someone in order to push you away from who the real culprit is. It’s cleverly done and not something that is obvious.

Lucy’s character is very easy to read through the book and I was pleased with her personal character development. I felt that I had learnt more about her in this book and knew more about the reasons behind her actions and the emotions she felt during the course of the book. Her opinions on the characters around her definitely shaped my view of them. I’d dismissed certain characters because of her view on them, and in the end, that made the real culprits reveal seem all the more shocking.

There is a real dynamic forming between Lucy, Mattie and Browning that seems to be supportive for all. It is good to read about a strong female lead who isn’t pushed into that fearless, dominant, cold hearted persona that I’ve personally encountered in many a thriller book with a female detective. It’s good to see that Lucy has multiple sides and that the determination she carries with her at work doesn’t translate to her personal life. I like that she’s warm in her personal life and that her life isn’t perfect. It makes her more relatable seeing her fumble with her personal life and move through like as a normal person.

The banter between Lucy and Mattie is funny to read. There is definitely an undercurrent between the two of them, I mentioned this in my review for the first book, but I am fully invested in seeing that undercurrent explored in the books to come.

I disliked Browning in the first book but he’s grown on me. He can be grumpy at times but I also see him as the humor of the trio, reminding Lucy and Mattie that there is more to life than the murders they investigate. He’s kind of like the Mother Hen, worrying over whether they’ve eaten or not.

I found this very easy to visualise. I started reading this book straight off the back of reading the first book, so everything was fresh in my mind and really, I just built on what I’d already created.

SHOOK. That would be my first thought. I was doing a boring paper folding task at work, and read the last third of this book while I was doing that. I was so wrapped in what I was reading but the reveal shocked me. I can’t believe, looking back, why that person was never a contender in my mind for being the culprit. Phifer played a very sneaky game misdirecting my thoughts and theories and masking the true identity of the culprit. It was clever. I’m equal parts miffed and not seeing it and amazed by who it was.

I feel there is a magic to short books that capture my attention. 268 pages doesn’t seem that short, but when I am usually reading books between 300-500 pages, it seems very short. This gripped me from beginning to end and it was something different. The killers ideas weren’t something I’d come across in a book before (I’m sure it’s probably been done before), and I was fully hooked learning all the sordid details.

There is only one book left in the series for me to read, I’m excited to read it but also miffed that I’ll have to wait for another release once I’m done.

This was great. Honestly, sometimes second books aren’t as good but I thought this was a stellar sequel and continuation of the series. I got what I wanted from the characters, understood the changes and additions of new characters. I understood the importance of the new killer and what they brought to the table. I read this on Kindle, which allowed me to read it faster than I would have in paperback, I enjoyed the fast pace in which I read because it made the book seem more action packed and gave me a jolt of adrenaline while I read.

I’m constantly surprised by murders in thriller books and how it’s possible to be constantly surprised by the variety of murders. I always think I’ve read all types of murders possibly but I’m always surprised that I’m wrong when I’m getting stuck into a new thriller. This was like that, the style of killing hadn’t even registered as a thing in my brain, so it felt exciting and new.

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