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J.T. Ellison

REVIEW:  Judas Kiss by J.T. Ellison

REVIEW: Judas Kiss by J.T. Ellison

Dear Ms. Ellison:

077832629201lzzzzzzz />I’ve read the first in the series and while I liked it, for some reason I didn’t pick up the second or the third. I was able to plunge back into the life of Nashville Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson without many bumps with one small exception I’ll talk about below.

Taylor and her boyfriend/fiance FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin are post aborted wedding and post new home purchase and are settling into a routine. The house is falling down around their ears and Baldwin is being called to Quantico to act as acting Director of some subdivision since his boss had a heartattack and Taylor has a gruesome new homicide to investigate.

A young, pretty housewife was beaten severely in her home and her poor baby girl was in the house with her, alive, but probably traumatized. These opening scenes were so poignant and really showed the strength of your writing. I connected immediately. Some readers might find these descriptions too gruesome (I do wonder if gruesome crime scenes are the sex scene of the suspense/thriller genre) but I thought that they were the right touch to setting the emotional tone of the story. The victim wasn’t really the mother, but the family members.

The suspense aspect of the story was also good. Taylor has personal safety issues including an ongoing case with a copy cat serial killer who has not yet been apprehended. Her career is being threatened through the jealousy of the OOPMA (Office of Professional Accountability) who would like to see Taylor taken down a notch or five.

While the story moved along, there was a heavy reliance on coincidences to draw the story to a close. Some of the emotional drama relating to Taylor was based on imagining the very worst things that could happen to a person and throwing them all at her which isn’t as subtle and nuanced as I thought that homicide scene was written.

There is also a tendency to include details that have no bearing on the suspense or character growth of Taylor such as noticing a prostitute on the street or the details spent on Taylor’s house. These might have bearing on the overall series but they had little to nothing to do on the story at hand. I find that an irritant because in a suspense, you look at these details for clues to who the perpetrator might be and instead it just seems like filler.

Baldwin is an underdeveloped character as well. Despite several scenes from his point of view, he has no flavor. Perhaps I lack context for him but I find him and his scenes to be particularly bland.

While there is a romance between Taylor and Baldwin, it’s not a major focal point of the story. I wouldn’t recommend this as a romantic suspense but rather a suspense with a romance thread. Don’t read it with expectations of there being a lot of relationship conflict. The story relies heavily on external events to move the plot along.

A reader won’t be bored with this suspense and if the convenient endings aren’t an irritant then this will be a good read. B-

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Dear Author

REVIEW: All the Pretty Girls by J.T. Ellison

Dear Ms. Ellison:

Book CoverNovember is a “new to me” month where I read about 10 authors that I had never read before. Yours was one of them. All the Pretty Girls is a romantic suspense book with a unique twist. The couple is already dating when the book starts. I think this is a great way for an author to manage the difficult balance of providing the suspense with a romance. Plus, it’s a different place in the courtship to which readers are ordinarily exposed.

Taylor Jackson is a Nashville Homicide lieutenant whose boring caseload is given a jolt by the appearance of a mutilated female corpse. She appears to take another knock on the chin when her lover, FBI profiler John Baldwin, informs her that he murders she is investigating are likely perpetrated by a serial killer dubbed “The Southern Strangler”.

The modus operandi for the Southern Strangler is to cut off the hands of these pretty young victims and carry them to the next murder site. Because the serial killer’s work involves multiple states and hence, multiple jurisdictions, the heavy investigatory work is done by John Baldwin.

I’ve not read a ton of thrillers so I was somewhat surprised that the novel contained two parallel investigations: one by Taylor Jackson of an serial rapist case made new again; and another by John Baldwin involving the serial killer. These investigations never converged either in events or theme which made me wonder at the serial rapist’s inclusion. It did provide the reader with a glimpse of Lt. Jackson hunting down criminals and exacting justice which is always a reader pleaser but it didn’t seem to fit the main storyline.

The main suspense thread – that of identifying and apprehending the Southern Strangler – was compelling. I as completely surprised by the villain and the villain’s motivation. Watching the hunt take its toll on the investigators added an emotional poignancy. Baldwin spends more than one moment wishing he was with Jackson somewhere and not standing over dead bodies.

Most of the romantic conflict was external as time and investigations forced Baldwin and Jackson apart. While I don’t mind external conflict being the driving force of the romance thread, I did think that more setup for the eventual internal conflict would have made for a stronger emotional ending.

I saw that the Publisher’s Weekly review found that Jackson as a southern belle homicide detective was clichà©d. Fortunately I’ve not read enough southern thrillers to be bored by the female protagonist. I found Taylor Jackson’s wealthy background and privileged upbringing to be interesting and provide a layer upon which this series could mine for future conflict. Being a big fan of The Closer’s Brenda Johnson, I can say that I didn’t see much similarities between the TV character and this literary homicide detective.

I look forward to future books featuring Baldwin and Taylor but hope that Taylor plays a larger investigatory role in the future. B-

Best regards,

Jane

This book will be available in mass market and ebook form on October 30, 2007.