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June 10, 2011

Murder in a small town: The First Victim

by Donna Huber

The First Victim
The First Victim by J. B. Lynn
Published June 2011 by Carina Press
Read June 2011

I am pretty sure a few co-workers thought my Nook was permanently attached to me this week. Why? Because I was reading the best murder mystery of the year. It is a good thing the sun is shining brightly, because this dark thriller tested my limits by bordering on horror. Yet, I couldn't put it down after reading the first few lines.

Emily may have distanced and distracted herself, but it is obvious she has never dealt with her traumatic past. A single phone call from her high school crush requesting she comes home practical sends her spinning into a panic attack. Her reluctance to return to her hometown is understandable and when she wrecks her car a few miles outside of town you can't help but empathize with her. With flashes to her abductor throughout the story it is not a question of if, but when will the shoe drop.

Lynn spins a tale that keeps you on your toes and suspicious of every male character in the story. You'll be turning the pages as fast as you can read them. The plot is so engaging that I was able to overlook a few weaknesses in the story. I thought Bailey's character was a little naive and borderline stereotypical of a small town cop. However, he has been with the FBI and quickly surmised the serial killer they were dealing with when the first victim shows up on Emily's doorstep. Maybe he is too close to the situation or blinded by his desire to reconnect with his childhood best friend and the stress of burying his father. But there just seems to be something inconsistent with his character. It is a minor issue; it did not detract from the story and I really didn't think about it until I finished the book.

I was certain I would be giving The First Victim a 5 star rating. I was consumed by the mystery, wrapped up in the momentum (J. B. Lynn did an excellent job with pacing) until it all came to a halt with a sex scene. If this had been a movie, it would have been when I would have gone to the bathroom or gotten a refill of soda. It ruined the momentum of the story for me and it was not needed. I think it would have been better to have the scene fade to black and kept the story moving forward instead of breaking for an intermission. I had trouble getting back into the story after it. For this reason, I can only give it 4 stars.

Do you like murder mysteries where you can figure out whodunit by piecing together the clues? The First Victim is littered with clues for the observant reader, yet there are enough twist and red herrings to keep the reader from guessing too early (I figured it out partially about 2 sentences before the reveal). It's a great read and you should be lined up to purchase your copy when it is released on Monday.

I received a free copy of The First Victim from Carina Press via The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by the method in which I received the book.

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  1. I love murder mysteries and this one sounds so good! Such a shame the sex scene ruined it for you-I hate it when things are added for no reason. Great review though, I enjoyed reading it =]