Publisher:Thomas & Mercer
Released: June 1st 2017
Received: Goodreads Giveaways
I won this book through Goodreads Giveaways; there is no requirement for me to leave a review of any sort, but I am choosing to do so.
Dead Certain is a mystery/thriller novel that includes a book within a book (it’s worth noting that the book included inside of Dead Certain is written by one of the characters, and doesn’t have an ending). So readers that are not a fan of this sort of plot device should move on.
Dead Certain is about a sister determined to solve her sister’s murder. It has twists and turns, though some of them are fairly predictable; which is a shame, since this book really had potential. Unfortunately, between the unsurprising nature of the plot and the poorly fleshed out characters, I found myself struggling to get through what would otherwise have been a quick read.
I found myself losing interest somewhere around chapter two, where the author began introducing Ella’s double life (explained further down below). Once the book within a book bits started up (which I knew was going to happen from the moment Charlotte introduced her half-finished novel), my interest waned even faster.
As mentioned above, there’s a book within a book element to this story. As it turns out, Charlotte was writing a book, which by all appearances was about her impending murder. It details many hidden aspects of her life, and leads the police (and Ella) on a merry little chase trying to find connections between it and real life. It was a clever idea at least, even though I wasn’t a fan of the implementation of it (the tone of voice didn’t feel like Charlotte to me, but then again that may just show the depths of Charlotte’s double life).
Ella Broden is an interesting parallel to her sister, Charlotte. Both live double lives, but in different ways and extremes. Ella is an attorney by day (not to mention a total daddy’s girl), and a singer by night. Meanwhile Charlotte gives the perfect appearance of being a well behaved college student (even if it’s pretty clear to everyone that she lacks drive); but in truth she juggles and hides countless relationships (at least three, so I suspect more). Because I found this parallel interesting, I’d like to give the author credit for it. Depth like this really helps to improve a series. It also further proves how much potential there was to this book.
I’ve mentioned in past reviews that I have two pet peeves when it comes to mystery/thriller novels: being able to guess the killer from early on, or never having the killer revealed until the end. This novel committed the first sin (as I like to call them). I had suspicions about who it was from about a third of the way through, and was convinced about his identity before we even started seeing things from his perspective.
Speaking of that; there are times we’re shown the killer’s perspective of events, and sometimes those events are almost verbatim how Ella told them, making them redundant and kinda boring. I personally felt the entire killer perspective could have been left out – yes some details would have had to have been explained later by Ella or the police, but it would have saved the reader (and the author) a lot of time and trouble on the whole.
All in all Dead Certain was neither a fantastic nor awful read; it was a solid three star book. I’d be a bit more disappointed had I paid for it; but I also know I can be a snob when it comes to mysteries sometimes, so there’s that.