Author: J.T. Ellison
Book Name: A Deeper Darkness
Series: Dr. Samantha Owens
Blurb: As a medical examiner, Samantha Owens knows her job is to make a certain sense of death with crisp methodology and precision instruments.
But the day the Tennessee floods took her husband and children, the light vanished from Sam’s life. She has been pulled into a suffocating grief no amount of workaholic ardor can penetrate–until she receives a peculiar call from Washington, D.C.
On the other end of the line is an old boyfriend’s mother, asking Sam to do a second autopsy on her son. Eddie Donovan is officially the victim of a vicious carjacking, but under Sam’s sharp eye the forensics tell a darker story. The ex-Ranger was murdered, though not for his car.
Forced to confront the burning memories and feelings about yet another loved one killed brutally, Sam loses herself in the mystery contained within Donovan’s old notes. It leads her to the untouchable Xander, a soldier off-grid since his return from Afghanistan, and then to a series of brutal crimes stretching from that harsh mountainous war zone to this nation’s capital. The tale told between the lines makes it clear that nobody’s hands are clean, and that making sense of murder sometimes means putting yourself in the crosshairs of death.
Review: This is a beautifully wrought and executed story.
All of the peeves, annoyances and character issues that I typically rail about just don’t happen here. The few things that I could jump on, the issue with an out of town ME actively participating in an investigation and the apparent insta-connection/attraction towards the end that gives this a tiny smidgen of a romantic bent just aren’t issues because of how well they were handled. The participation with the investigation works because Sam has a certain intimate knowledge (a personal history with him and his family) and access to one of the victims that the police may not have gotten without her. It may slightly stretch believably, but it still works with how things are laid out.
With the romance, that is so very much not the focus of the story. It is so little of it that this book really doesn’t even qualify as falling into the romance genre. Besides, while there is a definite quick attraction, those characters do not make the decision to truly get involved until after quite a bit of time spent together. That is glossed over a bit, but it is still clear that thought and time was actually put into that relationship rather than just jumping into it. It does go a little on the fast side, but again, it works, and well.
Sam is an intelligent, strong female character, yet handles her broken parts with strength instead of letting them make her weak. No matter her issues, she can still get in and do her job. She may have broken parts, but they don’t break her completely. I love that about her.
It is going to be interesting seeing how the rest of this series holds up against this first book, since I did like it so much. Especially seeing as it looks like it may even come from a very different kind of perspective. I have a lot of hope for its potential.