Sunday, April 24, 2016

Thoughts: Secrets of the Dead

Secrets of the Dead

by Kylie Brant
Book 7 of Mindhunters series

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.0 Stars

So obviously I was a little less than satisfied with what this book gave me. I’m sure that’s my bad since I over-hyped myself into wanting this to be the best book in the world. Because I love Kylie Brant’s Mindhunters series, even if I didn’t love every one of the previous six installments. It doesn’t negate the fact that Kylie Brant is a good writer with great ideas for crime thrillers or that the Mindhunters series is packed full of characters I’ve come to love and squeal about whenever they make an appearance in other books.

And Secrets of the Dead started out very, very strong! The characters were promising, the criminal mystery had direction, and the progress was great. You get to be reunited with Adam Raiker, his FBI agent wife, Jaid, and their son Royce. I was also looking forward to seeing some of the other Mindhunters make brief appearances, but alas, we only get to see Kellan Burke in real time and the rest are mentioned in passing.

Which is quite fine with me; Declan and Eve make an excellent addition to the Mindhunters world anyway. (Although it seems we’ve got another new Mindhunter in the mix, Finn Carstens, who used to be a doctor and who shows up nearing the end of the book; so I’m interested to see if he gets his story next.)

And even with the few minor editing errors (typos, pronoun switching, left out words here and there, repeated words in the same sentence) I still enjoyed the book a lot; and I’ll be the first to admit that editing can sometimes deter one’s enjoyment of a book even if the book has been outstanding. One editing error per several hundred pages doesn’t bug me; one editing error per every several pages catches my attention. However, several editing errors within the span of approximately ten pages starts to get annoying.

These came and went. But I’m going to say right now: someone got lazy. And I’m sorely disappointed about it, because for a seasoned romance author, I’d almost say that this kind of lack of editing and finalization of written product is unacceptable.

But thankfully, the book itself isn’t a terrible one. And I have a soft spot in my heart for the Mindhunters series. The last half of this book just needs to be gone back over with a fine editing comb, is all. Everything else was great! Though I DO take slight exception with some of the romance’s development (more on that later).

The Story:
There is an attempted kidnapping of Adam Raiker’s (head honcho of the famous Mindhunters organization) stepson, and being the kind of person he is, Adam is determined to find out who was behind the failed abduction. Because until the truth is found, Royce Raiker will probably not be safe for the long run--and of course, Adam has taken all the precautions to place his stepson and his wife in a protective safe house for the time being.

Enter Declan Gallagher and Eve Larrison. Declan is one of the newest additions to Raiker’s forensics and investigative team--seasoned police detective from D.C. who had worked cyber crimes and vice before being recruited by Adam Raiker. Eve is on loan from the State Department--a brilliant linguistics specialist as a hyper-polyglot who is fluent in over sixty different languages. Both will be going undercover as a married couple to ferret out the ones responsible for Royce’s attempted kidnapping.

But as the couple digs deeper into the investigation, a whole world of secrets in this criminal organization is made known to them--prominent of all, a large human trafficking ring.

My Thoughts:
I can’t be too disappointed that this book wasn’t what I’d expected--that’s my fault for thinking this would be another straight forward, gory murder mystery. I mean, there are murders, but the criminal aspect goes so much deeper than that. And the title is Secrets of the Dead... of course, I’d be thinking that this was another murder mystery...

And to be honest, the story started out very strong. I was hooked immediately with the wondering of how our couple would handle going undercover as a married couple; how Eve’s hyper-polyglot skills would come in handy infiltrating a criminal organization comprised of people from many different cultural backgrounds.

Even without a prominent murder mystery, I was enjoying the heck out of the investigation for the identities of the people wanting to kidnap Royce as well as what Royce’s birth history has to do with anything. It was intriguing and things were going oh, so well. The human trafficking underbelly of the crime organization was also a good twist to include and gave the story a bit more excitement and intrigue.

There were slight hiccups along the way, but I skimmed over those and kept reading. There were tangents that felt a little monotonous, but I waved them off and continued enjoying. The writing is great! Kylie Brant delivers what I’ve come to expect after reading her Mindhunters series.

Then one of the two main conflicts comes to a head with a satisfying resolution a little after the midpoint of the book… and then suddenly about three more conflicts spring out of the ground that need resolutions as well. After that, it felt like the whole focus of this book spins out of control and we’re now chasing criminals around the world and trying to resolve several other conflicts that came from nowhere. Exciting as that may have been, I can’t help but feel like we were grasping for a good ending, but somehow lost track of what that ending should be.

Things spiraled very much out of control from there on.

I hate to say this, but a lot of things could have been skimmed out of the story altogether. The multiple editing errors per few pages didn’t really help either. Neither did the tacky romance or the sex scenes, which was a bit disappointing, really, because my mind registers how well executed and how well written the previous six Mindhunters books were in both of those aspects.

I mean, the development of the romantic relationship between Declan and Eve had been great! I loved their chemistry, the tension, the build-up, the banter... There hadn’t been much in terms of needing to pretend to be intimate or in love in front of other people (which was a bummer, cause I love watching a potential romantic couple have to be uncomfortable around each other due to these types of situations, because it can be all kinds of fun), but they still managed to have a good working relationship while slowly falling for each other.

And that’s what I loved about their romance the most. Aside from having potentially explosive romantic chemistry, Eve and Declan made out to be excellent partners on their mission.

Unfortunately, the moment they had sex, everything turned into a less than exciting love story. The first kiss they had (sans sex scene) was multiple times hotter than their ultimate sex scene, or even any other sex scene after that. Even their ultimate proclamations of love felt a little lackluster, yet at the same time a bit overdone (I don’t know how it’s possible to be both, but it certainly happened that way. Maybe I’m just really hard to please--I don’t deny that).

It’s like we kind of gave up on the rest of the story after a certain point in the book.

Nonetheless, the characters were still great and the concept of the Mindhunters is still a personal favorite. The few quibbles certainly didn’t keep me from loving the coupling of Declan and Eve nor did it deter my immense admiration for Eve’s no-nonsense, straight forward personality, or the fact that she’s able to blend and make herself seem insignificant while using her invisibility to her advantage for investigation purposes.

I will more than likely be looking out for the next book--which is proclaimed to be due out in December this year.

This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in July 2015.

A First Impression (originally posted on 7/1/2015)

"Sorry about that."  He jammed his free hand through his hair.  "But I didn't expect... that is... dammit.  This probably isn't a great idea.  I mean... I'm sure lots of guys would find you attractive.  In a pint-size high school cheerleader type of way.  But with the two of us working together... not smart.  Sex clouds the senses.  I think we can both agree that we need to keep our wits during this thing."

Eve gaped at him, her mind sorting through the carelessly offensive remarks.  Somehow, coming upon her uncomfortable earlier musings about him, high school cheerleader seemed the most insulting.  "I know sixty-seven different ways to call you a jackass."  She slapped the now wrinkled sheet of paper against his bare chest, tempted to pin it there with her knife.  "None of them do you justice."

"What's this?"  He smoothed it out, squinting at it in the shadows.

"The reason I came in here.  That, and my overpowering and yes--thanks for the clarification--unrequited state of lust."


He went silent and a part of Eve was gratified by the pained expression on his face.  "Ah... I'm going to blame that on a brain muddled by sleep fog."

As apologies went, his didn't go far enough.

[...] the man had, in the space of a second held her immobilized with a gun to her temple.  Had outraged her with his awkward refusal of a sexual encounter she hadn't even offered.

Oh, just leave it to our broody alphas to think that everything will eventually lead to sex.  Granted, Eve had been admiring him, but she had other more important priorities in mind than sneaking into his bed to seduce him.  Nonetheless, this scene at the end of chapter three was so much fun that I couldn't stop grinning.

Very much enjoying the newest Mindhunters installment and I love the premise just the same.  Eve is a hyper-polyglot, which is apparently someone who is really good with languages.  She speaks sixty-seven different languages, including dialects and can read and write in about fifty of them.  She's also really good at looking out for herself, as proven by how quickly Declan dismisses her small, petite stature as being weak and in need of protecting, but then she pulls a knife on her attackers without batting an eye.  And she's smart enough to use this particular trait to her advantage, able to handle any weapon and think on her feet upon an attempted kidnapping.

As far as story and romance goes, if our couple is going to have this kind of awkward chemistry to start, I can't wait to see what kind of combustible chemistry they can have when Declan decides that Eve is his type of girl.  He's dismissing her now as too small and too young looking to even draw his attention, but we'll see where this leads.  Especially since the two have to pretend to be married to accomplish their big mission.

And Eve... so far, I'm loving how nonchalant and no-nonsense she is.  I also like that she just kind of lets people assume things about her without saying anything, thus effectively keeping all of her personal information and secrets intact, then using her quietly acquired knowledge to her advantage when the times necessitates.

This will be SO MUCH FUN!

This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in July 2015.

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