A Deadly Game (Jack Calloway #2), by Carmen Cady

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Carmen Cady for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Always up for a crime thriller with a twist, I returned to the latest novel by Carmen Cady. This second book in the Jack Calloway series offers new and intriguing crimes as Jack juggles a few cases on the streets of Seattle. With his own private quirk, Jack works through some of his own demons as he tries to help reveal the darkest side of the criminal world while trying to track down a young woman. Cady offers up another winner with this novel, sure to captivate the attention of the curious reader.

Jack Calloway has a long history as a private investigator for whoever needs his services. He’s happy to travel and uses a penchant for criminal profiling to make him perfect for any crime scene. When he finds himself in Seattle, Jack’s working to help a woman who sent him a number of emails, fearing that she was in imminent danger. Working through this, Jack seeks to connect with a reporter who may know something important, but that man’s been murdered. All of this makes Jack feel as though there is more going on, leaving him eager to get started on the investigation.

While working, Jack is approached by a gruff Seattle PD detective to consult on another case; one in which a number of women are turning up dead, all with a unique tattoo on their shoulders. There seems to be a foreign flavour to this, as well as the removal of kidneys, as though this is a sign or part of a larger criminal conspiracy. As the victims mount, Jack realises that there’s someone out there who means serious trouble.

While Jack works both cases, he makes a troubling discovery that could tie the investigations together. This only adds to his worries, as time is ticking and those involved in the criminal acts are not known for their methodical antics. In a world where people are treated like commodities, Jack will have to watch his every move, if he wants to live to tell of the experience. A quick-paced story that kept me wanting to know more the further I got into the book. Carmen Cady has a knack and is sure to do well with those seeking a dark thriller.

While I have come across many types of thrillers in my reading career, those penned by Carmen Cady have got to be some of the most unique. While I am not a fan of the supernatural, the angle she takes in these novels offers just enough of it to keep me curious without feeling as though things are too far-fetched. Her writing is strong and the story moves effectively, while leaving the reader to feel the impact of the victim’s plight.

Jack Calloway is a strong protagonist with a complex backstory that is developed a little more here. As a vampire who has seen his family slain, Jack has many demons that he must confront, as well as trying to live in the modern world and keep his secret. Cady does well to keep this in control, but does toss some personal angst in front of her protagonist as he seeks to solve another sinister crime. Jack is a stellar investigator and does not shy away from getting to the heart of the matter, though works in a calculated manner. His determination fuels him to always find answers when the opportunity arises.

Cady caught my attention with the series debut a while back and I was eager to get my hands on this second novel. The narrative moves forward and pulled me in from the opening chapters, leaving me to wonder where things might go. Her use of mid-length chapters provides the reader with some momentum to push through, without getting too wrapped up in the small things that occur throughout. I was pleased to see how easily I could get into the book and the plot evolved throughout, while also shedding some light on the Jack Calloway backstory, which adds the supernatural angle to the overall reading experience. I do wonder what’s next and I am eager to see what Carmen Cady has in store for her growing fan base.

Kudos, Madam Cady, for another great book. You know how to balance crime and personal growth well, appealing to a larger reading audience.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Triple M Murder (Jack Calloway Book 1), by Carmen Cady

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Carmen Cady for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

While police procedurals and mysterious thrillers flood the fiction marketplace, Carmen Cady has been able to find a unique angle in this series debut. Jack Calloway is not only a private investigator and criminal profiler, but has a past that sets him apart from many. Few are aware of his great secret, something Calloway hopes will not change in the near future. When a serial killer stalks Seattle, Calloway is brought in to assist with the investigation, only to discover something sinister that floors him. A chilling start to what could be a great series. Recommended to those who enjoy unique takes on the crime thriller.

Jack Calloway has had a great deal of success as a freelance private investigator and criminal profiler, so much so that his name is bandied around many police organizations. His impetus comes from the fact that his family was murdered by a sadistic killer years ago, forcing him to hone his skills to find justice for all. When he is called to assist on a spree of killings in Seattle, Calloway returns to a city that holds many recent memories. Working alongside a forensic tech with whom he has a romantic history is daunting enough, but having to report to a detective who has no love loss for him makes things all the more difficult.

On the surface, the case appears somewhat cut a dry; young women have turned up murdered in Seattle. It would seem there are similarities in their age and the fact they all used a dating app, something that does not leap off the page for anyone. However, Calloway discovers some peculiar clues at the scenes, things that do not add up. Stymied, but not yet ready tho give up, Calloway follows his instincts and tries to make sense of it all.

While he’s trying to come to terms with his colleagues and they past they share, Calloway wrestles with another secret, something far darker and much more troubling. He has a long history—literally—and soon realises that the killer may have been targeting him for more than a few months, baiting him to get involved in the action. It’s soon apparent that Calloway could be a suspect in the killings, based on his connections to them, albeit in a vague manner. He must use this unique approach to his advantage in order to make sense of the victims, the killer, and the direction in which the crime spree will turn, all while trying to clear his name and hold onto the secret that could ruin it all.

Working the crimes without revealing too much about himself, Calloway tries to piece it all together and bring the killer to justice. However, there are delicate aspects that must be handled and clues that cannot be revealed to the general public, for fear that Calloway’s personal life comes to the surface. That would destroy everything, from his credibility through to his lifestyle. There is a killer on the loose, someone who has lured Calloway into this trap and must be stopped, after centuries of evil doing!

Carmen Cady does well to intrigue the reader with the premise of this story, without making things too supernatural. I choose not to reveal too much, permitting the reader to delve deep and see what they think. While the premise—killer must be caught by the protagonist—is traditional in nature, there are aspects to the story that make it a unique and curious read. Cady may be on to something here, if she can keep the momentum.

Jack Calloway is a great protagonist, revealing much about himself throughout the story. While he is a top-notch private investigator, there are personal aspects to him that come to the surface throughout this piece. Both his personal and professional lives come under scrutiny in the novel, with the reader receiving a front row seat to all the action. His secret remains his own, though Calloway will have to face many a demon throughout the story to make sense of what is before him, which only thickens the plot.

Cady offers up a wonderful cross-section of characters in the piece, each working in their own way to advance the plot. There are many subplots that develop, allowing Cady to hone her characters effectively and flavouring the narrative throughout. Calloway’s past and present are on full display here, with many complementing his character in their own manner.

The story, while not entirely unique in its approach, is great as the layers are peeled back. Cady knows how to build up some tension between her characters and uses plot to advance the story. The narrative, working in a number of time periods and through the eyes of numerous characters, proves strong and does not lose the momentum throughout. A mix of chapter lengths proves the perfect tease for the reader, goading them to keep going in order to piece the mystery together. There are many aspects to the story, appealing to a large audience, though their underlying truth about Jack Calloway drives the story along, forcing the reader to wonder just how long his secret will remain his own, and how that could turn the series on its head.

Kudos, Madam Cady, for an intriguing series debut. I will have to keep my eyes open for more of your work in the coming years. Jack Calloway certainly has me curious, as does his backstory!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons