Jennifer June “JJ” Porter learned a great deal about killing at a very young age.
Now she’s trying to keep people alive.
The daughter of Cleanup Crew assassin Nicole Porter, JJ has moved her base of operations to Los Angeles, where she waits desperately for a real case. One comes from a trucker who is worried about a high school girl and sends her to Bakersfield.
And although J.J. works away from LA, she ends up much closer to Hollywood than she ever expected.
Meet a young private investigator, a twisted postal worker, and two British brothers, and the teenaged runaway who brings them all together.
Point of view:
3rd person. Various character perspectives.
I was looking for a little break from all my romance (and holiday) reads and this turned out to be perfect. I enjoyed Varengo & Hart’s storytelling that combined thoughtful character building, mystery, suspense, and a little bit of humor.
The killer is introduced in chapter one and his perspective is threaded throughout the book in a way that made me feel like I got to know him. Instead of ruining the mystery it heightened the suspense and humanized his, still deplorable, actions.
JJ Porter is a really unique Private Investigator – coming from a spycraft background but reeling from personal losses, she was a great mix of competent but still somewhat flawed. I don’t like my protagonists too perfect and she was balanced well here.
Her first real gig as a P.I. brings a questionable client and the elusive task of finding a newly 18yo runaway. As the story unfolds, it’s apparent that Tasha is in the sights of a serial killer hunting sex workers and JJ is rushing to catch up before it’s too late. JJ is joined by an unlikely sidekick, a dashing British movie star. Their banter brings some levity as well as more information about her background.
As with any thriller, I don’t want to give too much away in the review. I liked the pacing, world building, and suspense. I finished it in two days (and it only took that long because I started it too late the night before). There’s definitely a complete story here. However, there’s a tease to book 2 and it’s also obvious there’s much more to learn about JJ. I’m looking forward to more.
Note: There’s an afterward where Varengo details a bit about the history of sex work showing that while there may have been some irreverence in the fictional novel – it shows the authors understand and respect the nuances of the subject.
Stephanie Nemeth-Parker was a great choice for the book. She skillfully becomes JJ in all her nuances while simultaneously representing an entire cast of characters. Accents, personalities, emotional scenes are performed seamlessly. Combined with the superb writing this was an outstanding listen.
While I purchased the ebook, I received a copy of the audiobook from the narrator and am leaving an honest review.
About the authors:
The authors have a website for their joint ventures at E2Books:
Craig A. Hart is the stay-at-home father of twin boys, an author, narrator, and audio executive producer. He was also director for Northern Illinois Radio Information Service, a broadcast outreach that brought daily news and information to the visually impaired. A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Craig lives in Iowa City, Iowa with his wife, sons, insane dog, and anti-social cat. You can connect with Craig A. Hart here:
S.J. Varengo was born in 1960, in a city called New York. He returned to New York City to attend Fordham University before transferring to the State University of New York at Potsdam, from which he earned a bachelor’s degree in Art History. Varengo loves to read, listen to music, and walk along forested trails with his wife Kim. He lives in Baldwinsville, NY, a suburb of Syracuse, known for its picturesque setting and its friendly people. He has two adult children of whom he is obnoxiously proud.
You can connect with S.J. Varengo here:
My Favorite Quotes
“Just go. Just go away.”
“The man who kept to the shadows as he followed her, clearly moving in the direction of Easton Street, was the Easy Street Killer.”
“If you meet a psychopath in a small city, you’re just as dead as if you’d met him in Denver, LA, New York, or the frigging planet/city Coruscant from Star Wars.”
“JJ liked stories where the hero didn’t need any damn man”
“I’m finding this conversation both very sexy and very annoying.”
“against all odds, JJ thought, the cavalry is coming.”