Dirty Little Secrets by Liliana Hart. J.J. Graves Mystery, #1.
My copy: Createspace, July 2011. Paperback, 307 pages.
J.J. Graves has seen a lot of dead bodies in her line of work…
She’s not only in the mortuary business, but she’s also the coroner for King George County, Virginia. When a grisly murder is discovered in the small town of Bloody Mary, it’s up to J.J. and her best friend, Detective Jack Lawson, to bring the victim justice.
The murders are piling up…
The residents of Blood Mary are dropping like flies, and when a popular mystery writer shows up on J.J.’s doorstep with plans of writing his new book about the Bloody Mary Serial Killer, J.J. has to decide if he might be going above and beyond the call of duty to create the spine tinglers he’s so well known for. It only clouds the issue and puts her reputation on the line when the attraction between them spirals out of control.
And passions are rising…
J.J and Jack are in a race against time. They discover each victim had a shocking secret, and the very foundation of J.J.’s life is in danger of crumbling when it turns out she’s harboring secrets of her own—secrets that make her the perfect victim in a deadly game.
Dirty Little Secrets started off as a small town who-dun-it mystery, which I wish it’d kept more to. Instead, we got lots of love triangle angst and frequent steamy scenes (nothing gratuitous, but I was like, hey, aren’t you supposed to be solving a murder?) and I wondered if I was reading a mystery or a romance at times. Which wasn’t a bad thing at all. I just wasn’t expecting the romance. I suppose I prefer my mysteries purely focused on the mystery.
Protagonist and town coroner JJ Graves has got spunk. Her personality (and the writing) is pretty entertaining. Which made the book snappy to read once I settled in to read.
I never liked the love interest, Brody Collins, though. I think this romance was supposed to come off as love at first sight (cough, insta-love), but JJ seemed, as one other reader put it, rather desperate. I never liked Brody, who was a total player, and I sure as heck didn’t see any real relationship forming between the two of them. There was a lot more chemistry between JJ and her BFF detective Jack, who are “just friends” and “like siblings.” Oh, please, like that’s convincing anyone. Just get together already!
Also, why oh why do female protagonists in thrillers or mysteries ALWAYS have to wind up as the suspect’s next victim? Why can’t we just have a woman the villain doesn’t want/desire? I understand that a suspect might want to take out someone who’s digging too close to the truth, but it’s a trope I see ALL THE TIME and I’m over it. Also, can a woman EVER get herself out of a bad situation, or must her dude love interest/best friend always save her just in the nick of time?
I kind of scratched my head and then yawned at who the actual murderer was during the big reveal. It would have been more exciting if it had turned out to be a more prominent character, but I’ll be reeeeeal honest — I totally forgot about the character from their brief mention earlier in the book (I think??), and still couldn’t really remember who they were during the antagonist’s required monologue. It just felt random. And too safe.
The book ends REAL abruptly, without any conclusion. Like, um, don’t most mysteries spend at least a chapter explaining how justice was served (or not, if it decides to go the realistic route) and how everything was pieced together? It was literally — bam, here’s your climax. Bam, here’s a two-paged epilogue that is a lame excuse of an epilogue. Bam, here’s the end of the book, there’s no resolution after all the crazy.
Dirty Little Secrets was an entertaining enough read. It didn’t particularly stand out to me, and I think I’m just not a big fan of small town stories, but if you’re looking for a snappy mystery, I wouldn’t deter you from picking this one up. ♦
Have you read Dirty Little Secrets?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s the last mystery you read?
Comment below letting me know!