Ella Broden is living a double life.
By day, Ella works as a buttoned-up attorney on some of the city’s most grueling cases. By night, she pursues her passion for singing in the darkest clubs of Manhattan.
No one knows her secret, not even Charlotte, the younger sister she practically raised. But it seems she’s not the only one in the family with something to hide. When Charlotte announces she’s sold her first novel, Ella couldn’t be more thrilled…until she gets a call that her sister’s gone missing.
Ella starts investigating with the help of Detective Gabriel Velasquez, an old flame in the NYPD, and what she finds is shocking. If art imitates life, then her sister’s novel may contain details of her real-life affairs. And any one of her lovers could be involved in her disappearance.
Desperate to bring Charlotte home, Ella works through her list of suspects, matching fictitious characters with flesh-and-blood men. But will it be too late to save the sister she only thought she knew?
Worldbuilding: Loved the New York setting. There were spots that really made it sing (like Tom’s Restaurant – all hail Seinfeld!).
Characters: Ella was a very complex and beautifully layered character. In the beginning she came off as the good girl, following dad’s lead, and practicing a no-nonsense attitude that might have made her seem cold, but there was something about her that attracted my undivided attention from the get-go. Then as Cassidy came into play and things happened, the real Ella shone through: passionate, determined, relentless even. I particularly liked her sharp mind that made good connections without making unrealistic leaps of logic.
Charlotte seemed interesting at first sight – the total opposite of Ella, in a way. But as things progressed I found myself liking her less and less, mainly because of the promiscuity factor I think.
And then comes the cast of male characters, diverse and nuanced. Their dad was interesting, though easy for me to dislike; he seemed like a rock, Paul seemed to be shady from the first moment he appeared in the story, Dylan seemed like a cool guy – appearances are SO deceiving when it comes to the guys in the story. The only one who came across as sincere and a genuinely good guy was Gabriel – but then again I also have soft spot for detectives, so maybe I’m a bit biased.
The real kicker is when Christopher comes into play, but I’m not saying anything more or I’d spoil your fun.
Plot: I really enjoyed the mystery of Charlotte’s disappearance – it was thought-provoking and intriguing pretty much every step of the way. The novel she wrote was a very cool narrative tool, introducing elements of her life in her absence but in an unreliable narrator sort of way since what she’d wrote wasn’t an exact depiction of things. It left me always wondering about this or that, and I loved the ride. The story has an alert and exciting tempo, and it’s pretty dramatic without going overboard on the drama. Plus there’s a sprinkle of romance and I enjoyed that too. It sweetened the ending, in a way. Gripping plot, all in all.
Writing: First person present tense narrative, Ella’s POV, with some of Christopher’s POV toward the end. I really liked Ella’s voice and the writing style did it for me big time.
Curb Appeal: Love, love, love the cover, and the blurb is hooking – total impulsive buy material for my Mystery/Thriller moods!
I had a hell of time reading Dead Certain, and will tell you one thing: you can only be certain that this is a freaking awesome ride. Everything else about the story and characters seems certain at different points, and the moment you become certain about anything you’re most likely proven dead wrong. Excellent read, and my 3rd Bomy Award for Excellence of the year.
I recommend it to fans of twist-licious mystery/thrillers that present more than one side of the story and lovers of a good, suspenseful reading.