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The Dead Key (2015)

by D. M. Pulley

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3983350,687 (3.35)15
1998. For years the old First Bank of Cleveland has sat abandoned, perfectly preserved. Twenty years before, amid strange staff disappearances and allegations of fraud, panicked investors sold the bank in the middle of the night, locking out customers and employees, and thwarting a looming federal investigation. In the confusion that followed, the keys to the vault's safe-deposit boxes were lost. When engineer Iris Latch stumbles upon them during a renovation survey, what begins as a welcome break from her cubicle becomes an obsession as she unravels the bank's sordid past-- and soon realizes that the key to the mystery comes at an astonishing price.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
I came really close to rating Dead Key a 4 but it just didn't quite get there for me. It was so close to edge of the seat suspense but fell short. I would still recommend this as a good read though. I enjoyed the premise behind discovering the mystery from, not only two different characters points of view, but also from two different time lines. The story takes place in 1978 when a two secretaries, Beatrice and Max, who work for a bank in Cleveland discover nefarious happenings which result in the closing of the bank. Then in 1998, 20 years after the bank closed, an architect, Iris, just starting her career ends up drafting the floor plans for the bank and discovering the entire nefarious activity all over again. I enjoyed how the author takes you down the path of Iris discovering clues in 1998 and then later explains what took place in 1978 that caused those "clues" to be put into place. The author bounces you back and forth between the two times lines in a way that made it a fun read.

The problem I had with the book is that it took way too long to get to the meat of the story. There was too much back story. Questions were brought up throughout the entire book but answers don't start appearing until about 3/4s into the book. Then suddenly all the questioned are answered all at once. It would have been more enjoyable if the answers were sprinkled throughout the book. Even when all the questions were answered the story seemed to never reach its potential. ( )
  gsteinbacher | Dec 30, 2021 |
These are two very different protagonists: naive, trusting Beatrice and jaded, alcohol drinking, sloppy Iris, but at several points in the book, just as I would when watching a horror novel, I found myself yelling “NO. BACK AWAY.” Curiosity has Iris delving deeper into the mystery much as the discovery of a safe deposit box key has Beatrice searching for an answer, and both actions lead them down a dangerous path.
Oh, and the dead key of the title? That is the bank’s master key which opens any safe deposit box in the bank. It’s gone missing, hence the still-full safe deposit boxes. Who has it? Is it found? You have to read to find out.
The two stories are woven together well and I found the 1978 storyline more interesting at the start; it took a bit longer before I found myself invested in Iris’ character. The bank itself is a character in its own right: dark, looming, and full of secrets. This page turner did not divulge its secrets and tie up loose ends until the end (and even then, I’m left with questions.)
The surprise behind this debut for a real-life structural engineer from Cleveland is that the book is inspired by her own discovery of a vault full of unclaimed safe deposit boxes in the course of surveying an abandoned building. ( )
  jenncaffeinated | Jul 4, 2021 |
An engineer and security guard walk into a bar. ( )
  diredead | Jan 1, 2021 |
Iris Latch is unhappy in her new job at a Cleveland engineering firm. She's always been a bit lazy, a bit lackluster.....and now that she's graduated from college and has student loans to pay, she isn't enjoying her adult life at all. She gets handed grunt work to do....and hates it. Then, out of nowhere, she is asked to complete a special project. She is to draw floor plans for the First Bank of Cleveland building. The bank closed 20 years before in 1978 after a scandal of some sort involving safe deposit boxes and incomplete banking records. Iris has no idea when she enters the dusty time capsule of dusty marble and gold trim that a young bank employee stumbled on a crime so big that it imploded some of the wealthiest families in Cleveland and ruined The First Bank of Cleveland. A crime so big that it is still very dangerous to go poking around the dark, closed building. Beatrice in 1978 and Iris in 1998 will share in the fear very, very soon, even if they are 20 years apart in time.

This is such a suspenseful and interesting story!! I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Emily Sutton-Smith, and the details are so vivid that I could imagine being in that dusty, dark creepy bank building. I don't usually like stories that jump back and forth in time, but both main characters and the storylines are so well crafted that it was seamless. The time jumps just heightened the suspense, rather than making the plot confusing. I felt sorry for both women and could imagine how scary both situations would be. The suspense and mystery build until the very last page of this story! Best suspense story I have come across in a long time! The story kept my attention to the very end. Loved it!

The audiobook is just under 14 hours long. It took me several days to listen to the entire story because I didn't want to miss anything! Emily Sutton-Smith read at a nice even pace, and her voice was perfect! I have hearing loss, and sometimes female voices are difficult for me to understand. But I had no problem hearing and understanding this audiobook.

Awesome story!! I am definitely going to read more by D.M. Pulley! ( )
  JuliW | Nov 22, 2020 |
I listened to this book on audio. I think if I had been reading the physical book I may gotten frustrated and not finished. As others have said the concept of the bank being closed for 20 years and remaining as a time capsule was good and had lots of potential. That being said I found several things really predictable: Beatrice's parents, Ramon's relationship with Max. I also felt the jumps back and forth between 1978 and 1998 were jarring and too frequent. The characters could have been developed more. And this book could definitely use another edit. Overall, I enjoyed the story and as it is a first novel, I hope the author continues to hone the craft. ( )
  thevoice1208 | Nov 20, 2020 |
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1998. For years the old First Bank of Cleveland has sat abandoned, perfectly preserved. Twenty years before, amid strange staff disappearances and allegations of fraud, panicked investors sold the bank in the middle of the night, locking out customers and employees, and thwarting a looming federal investigation. In the confusion that followed, the keys to the vault's safe-deposit boxes were lost. When engineer Iris Latch stumbles upon them during a renovation survey, what begins as a welcome break from her cubicle becomes an obsession as she unravels the bank's sordid past-- and soon realizes that the key to the mystery comes at an astonishing price.

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It’s 1998, and for years the old First Bank of Cleveland has sat abandoned, perfectly preserved, its secrets only speculated on by the outside world.

Twenty years before, amid strange staff disappearances and allegations of fraud, panicked investors sold Cleveland’s largest bank in the middle of the night, locking out customers and employees, and thwarting a looming federal investigation. In the confusion that followed, the keys to the vault’s safe-deposit boxes were lost.

In the years since, Cleveland’s wealthy businessmen kept the truth buried in the abandoned high-rise. The ransacked offices and forgotten safe-deposit boxes remain locked in time, until young engineer Iris Latch stumbles upon them during a renovation survey. What begins as a welcome break from her cubicle becomes an obsession as Iris unravels the bank’s sordid past. With each haunting revelation, Iris follows the looming shadow of the past deeper into the vault—and soon realizes that the key to the mystery comes at an astonishing price.
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