Friday, February 3, 2017

Review: Still Life by Dani Pettrey

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright--and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead--and the photographer insists he didn't take the shot. Worse, her friend can't be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

My Review

Still Life can be read on its own, but I highly recommend reading the first book in the series, Cold Shot, to get a greater understanding of the cast of characters. That's where we first meet Avery and Parker with their palpable chemistry despite traumatic pasts preventing them from acting on their feelings. I also want to point out that I really appreciated that the author didn't rehash or summarize the entire plot from Cold Shot in Still Life, only brief mentions of how the characters had connected, so even if you read the books out of order the story hasn't been spoiled. I think this would also intrigue a reader who hasn't read the first book and make them want to experience Griffin and Finley's story. (It actually made me want to go back and read it again!)

I enjoyed the camaraderie between the members of the group of friends that worked together to solve the many angles of the case. It definitely balanced out the anxiety I felt from the suspense and creepiness of the crime. I noticed much less tension in their relationships than the first book when they were initially reunited. Now they are supportive with each other both socially and professionally. The details of the step-by-step investigation never felt mundane, but exciting as each revealed a deeper aspect in the plot. Some occasional glimpses into the mind of the villain also ramped up the anticipation as the story moved swiftly forward. A separate FBI case is explored simultaneously by Declan and Tanner which really got the pace hopping and provided an introduction to their fledgling relationship.

There are several twists in the case and Parker and Avery are practically inseparable as they partner up for their tasks in uncovering the mystery. It gives them plenty of opportunity to experience reawakened feelings and angst over what is keeping them apart. Fortunately their shared faith plays a major role in helping them overcome mental obstacles that were holding them back. There is a strong theme of redemption through Christ and forgiveness of self in their conversations that exhibited the respect they held for each other and their beliefs. Their romance takes a backseat to the intensity of the suspense plot, but they have their fair share of special moments ;)

I loved the setting of Baltimore, and the descriptions the author subtly included of the urban environment, the landscape, and even the influence of the weather conditions gave me a strong sense of the location and just how different it is from what I'm used to. I was drawn to the details of photography and art in the story, but it was also disturbing to see how they were used to represent the subject matter of death in a grotesque manner. Still Life is a book that kept me glued to the pages and I'm so excited to discover what's in store for Declan and Tanner in the next book, Blind Spot!

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

Don't miss Cold Shot, the first book in the Chesapeake Valor series!

Heidi Reads... Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey


In college, Griffin McCray and his four best friends had their lives planned out. Griffin and Luke Gallagher would join the Baltimore PD. Declan Gray would head to the FBI and Parker Mitchell would go on to graduate school as a crime scene analyst. But then Luke vanished before graduation and their world--and friendships--crumbled.

Now Griffin is a park ranger at Gettysburg, having left life as a SWAT-team sniper when a case went bad. The job is mostly quiet--until the day he captures two relic hunters uncovering skeletal remains near Little Round Top. Griffin just wants the case to go away, but charming forensic anthropologist Finley Scott determines that the body is modern--a young social justice lawyer missing since spring--and all evidence points to the work of an expert sniper. When FBI agent Declan Gray takes over the case, past and present collide. Griffin soon realizes he'll need to confront some of the darkest days of his life if he--and those he cares about--are going to escape a downward spiral of murder that crosses continents.

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