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Under Your Skin by J.R. Chartrand
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Under Your Skin

by J.R. Chartrand

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good read! ( )
  djts5420 | Jan 7, 2014 |
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Book Report: Statenville, Idaho, is that rarest of things: An economically healthy small town. It's got Cloverdale Industries to thank for that, and thank them the town does, by electing Cloverdale's president to the Mayor's chair.

Until, one sad day, three high school football stars, the pride of the town's team, die within twenty-four hours of each other. Gruesome, horrible deaths, scratching themselves into exsanguination, all from doing tainted drugs. Mayor Gold's son is the first to die, such a sad sad sad end to a promising life.

The Register, the local weekly fish-wrapper, is strangely incurious about the deaths, in the opinion of reporter Cal Murphy, fresh out of journalism school and so desperate for a job that he's taken on the task of writing up the local doin's and the grip-and-grin meetings of small Mormon Statenville. I mean, what kind of excitement is there in this podunk burg for a reporter who longs to cover Seattle's sports universe?

Cal, and photographer Kelly Mendoza (who happens to be The Register's publisher's niece), find out quickly as the questions they start asking make some very powerful people with a very dark secret they all share very very very nervous. Murdering nervous. And guess who's in the firing line.

Cal and Kelly start a North by Northwest-worthy race across southern Idaho's cornfields and canyons, into Salt Lake City's canyons, along the way running afoul of local police, FBI sting operations, and one supremely dangerous man for whom murder is all in a day's work...Mafia bigwig Carmine Deangelo.

My Review: This thriller was a Kindle freebie I found through Pixel of Ink on Facebook. I downloaded it without any serious expectations, and started reading because I couldn't hold up a normal book in my arthritic fingers.

How's that for an inauspicious start?

As soon as I read about Cody Murray's death, I was completely hooked and had to know what was going to happen next. For three hours, I was riveted to my seat and could not turn the cyberpages fast enough. Cal and Kelly aren't the most fully realized of characters, but the author has a mean streak about a mile wide and puts the two of them through quite some horrible ride. Which makes for good reading, of course.

The book is marketed as a mystery, but the identity of the perp and the reason for the crime spree that Cal and Kelly set off with their investigation are not at all well-hidden. What makes up for that is the sheer velocity of the action, which is why I label it a thriller. I mentioned before that the characters aren't particularly well drawn, but that is a common flaw in first novels, and it isn't as if the main couple are wooden...just not nuanced, and some back story opportunities are whiffed. At ~256pp, the book is too short (and how weird it feels to type *those* words!) by about 50pp, almost all of which could be spent on backstory.

HURRY to get a free copy today, 2/18/2012, or pay about $5 for the book...either way, it's good entertainment value. ( )
5 vote richardderus | Feb 18, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0615576249, Paperback)

With small town journalist Cal Murphy quickly losing his big city dreams of writing for a metro newspaper, his passion is reignited when three star prep athletes are found dead in a 24-hour period. As he and fellow photographer Kelly Mendoza attempt to make sense of bizarre circumstances that led to the teens' deaths, Cal makes a chilling discovery, uncovering a vast conspiracy that grows darker with every twist and turn. With a mastermind determined to silence Cal and Kelly for good, the young reporters ultimately must decide if their lives are worth the risk to reveal the truth.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:14 -0400)

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