Review by Toni McGee Causey

When you pick up a thriller/romantic thriller, there’s the hope that you’re going to have a great ride, an adrenaline rush that pulls you along the story and rivets you to your seat. It doesn’t always happen, and the bar is pretty high. I was worried about this when I first picked up Allison Brennan’s SEE NO EVIL; I had requested an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) and thought that there was no way she could top the last trilogy… but when you read a book and the first couple of pages scare the crap out of you and your own visceral reaction is to not only be horrified by the actions of the characters, repulsed and repelled by the antagonist and yet you are absolutely unable to take your eyes off the pages because you simply must find out what’s going on, you know you’ve placed yourself into the hands of an excellent writer. Add to this the fact that I was horribly sleepy,

having gone nearly 28 hours without sleep and under most circumstances, the act of reading at that point would have put me to sleep and you can understand my enthusiasm for the book when I say to you that I read it straight through because I could not put it down.

Brennan does a remarkable job here, and it’s a real tour de force that she takes an act of self mutilation (cutting) and not only makes you understand what cutters feel (or, rather, don’t feel) and why, but how that is such a significant component of the antagonists in the story. The book follows ADA Julia Chandler as she tries to find out exactly what happened to her troubled teenage niece, Emily, who was home from school the evening her step-father, respected Judge Montgomery, was murdered in a gruesome and personal manner. Emily not only doesn’t have an alibi, there’s enough evidence to point directly to her, including a motive that would make even the adults around her long for vengeance. Unfortunately for Julia, she’s pulled off duty and not allowed to work the case since Emily is her niece—nor is she supposed to have access to any of the DA’s normal resources; she loves her niece and is, perhaps, one of the only people who actually has loved the girl and Julia is determined to mount a credible defense and look out for Emily’s rights, no matter what the cost to herself.

Part of that cost for Julia is having to suck up her pride and call on private detective, Conner Kincaid—the one man whose law enforcement career she ruined five years earlier. Conner’s loathing of Julia is palpable, and for good cause, but she needs him for two reasons: Emily trusts him and he’s got the access to various resources that no other private eye would have.

Brennan’s lightening pacing and development of characters are enhanced by the fact that the world feels clear and richly drawn. I was certain I had the ending figured out, but in spite of the fact that there were clues all along, I pinged on the wrong character and was happy to be surprised by the ending, though it felt organic and well worth the ride. My only tiny quibble with the book at all is that I wanted a couple of more clues to the ultimate mastermind behind the plan, but that may be more of a result of being frustrated that I was outsmarted than a flaw in the structure of the story. Brennan does a fine job of not only making us care about her protagonists and the victim, she also accomplishes that unexpected result which marks her as an excellent writer: she makes me care about the antagonists and why they’re doing what they’re doing.

The series begins with SPEAK NO EVIL (out in February). SEE NO EVIL is the second in the trilogy (easy to read separately, as the stories stand along—some of the minor characters from SEE NO EVIL are continued in FEAR). If you’re looking for a terrific thriller/romantic thriller, then I’d definitely recommend this series.


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