Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Tease: Nikki M. Pill

Title: The Tease 
Author: Nikki M. Pill
Stand Alone or Series?: Series (First Book in Darling Killer Series )
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Publisher: Self- Published
Publish Date: January 7th, 2013
Cover Design: Drake Mesfestta
Pages: 164 (.acsm file)
ISBN: 1481938509
Obtained: Review copy obtained for free from Net Galley. 

Synopsis obtained from Anna Zendel is your average 32-year-old therapist, stressing about clinical exams and struggling to recover from an abusive relationship. But at night she transforms herself into the saucy burlesque dancer Velvet Crush, enchanting Chicago audiences with the art of the tease.

As Anna struggles to keep the therapy and burlesque worlds separate and get over her crush on the troupe's emcee, a new danger threatens women across the city. The papers have dubbed him the Darling Killer, because after strangling his victims, he scrawls the word "darling" on their skin.

When one of Anna's fellow dancers is murdered in the dressing room, she realizes that Darling Killer could be closer than she thought. Could Max, Anna's new therapy client who confessed to fantasizing about dead girls and obsessing over the Darling Killer, have anything to do with the murders?

As more women are murdered, and Anna begins receiving mysterious gifts, this burlesque dancer pits feathers and sequins against foul play in the deadliest dance of all.

This review contains spoilers.

Can I first start off by saying that I've forgotten how much I love mystery thriller -- and this was just the book to get be back into the genre.  'The Tease' started off with an unsettling beginning and kept the action and suspense high for the entire novel. The story really kicks off with a termination interview our main character, Anna, has with a long-time client that overcame an abusive relationship. I found that part to very powerful and an excellent way to set the female positive tone of the story. 

Pill's creepy narrative resumes with her next client -- a man who is attract to women that are cold and still -- ending the chapter with Anna asking her boss, "Is necrophilia treatable?" -- I have to admit the line prompted a little laugh from me. The author's black humor pops up every once in awhile which is a nice touch as far as I'm concerned. 

I loved the dichotomy of Anna's character, a therapist as well as a burlesque dancer and how both parts were equally portrayed -- and equally interesting.  You could see how each aspect of her life played a role in the story, and how believably she balanced the two lives. I also like that Anna's choices had believable consequences and that her problems weren't magically solved one way or another. Anna has very real flaws and it makes her compelling as a heroine, someone you want to root for. The story also explored several kinds of abuse in relationships and they were portrayed believably, some of which Anna was subjected to herself.

To be honest there was only a couple of things that really bothered me about the story. The first thing was, I realize that patient/client confidentiality is important -- but when so many 'clues' in a murder mystery point to a client, at what point do you include it in your report to the police? I would like to think a little sooner than Anna did.   

Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing but I didn't really get attached to any of the guy characters in the book because I was too busy convicting them all of murder! I swear every time she started getting close to a guy it was 'oh he's the murderer!', 'oooo noooo don't do it he's the murderer!!' I swear half my notes are a jumped mess of "HE'S THE MURDERER!". At one point one of my notes quoted the book and it went something like this, "killer might be here to re live the fantasy" my note: "HE'S BESIDE YOU!!!". I'm happy to report however that this book is far from predictable. 

That said, there were only two things that  annoyed me about this book. One that she seemed to bounce from guy to guy to guy very easily. I get that it was just dating, but it was a little annoying within the span of such a short book. That was somewhat alleviated for me personally as I was flailing calling every man in the book a murderer (read: I was having a lot of fun with this book).  The second annoying thing is -- I have to wait for 2014 for the next book! I can't wait! I do want to take this time to say that the author did an excellent job making sure that this book stood well on its own. The book doesn't feel unfinished, or have that stop in mid-chapter feel.  It's excellent! 

Rating: 8/10 stars.

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