Tag Archives: Blake Pierce

Review: Cause to Kill (By Blake Pierce)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 184 pages

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Avery Black was one of Boston’s most notable criminal defense attorneys – until she successfully got a Harvard professor off murder charges, only for him to kill again, and dedicate his last murder to her. Avery’s life fell apart after the event and she lost everything in its aftermath, including her husband and daughter. She began a new life as a cop in an attempt to put away the kind of people she earlier fought for, and her skill and talent has finally gotten her promoted to Homicide Detective. Yet, she continues to face the scorn of her colleagues who still hate her and the public who is yet to forget what she’d done.

Then a girl from an elite college turns up dead. Avery’s ability to truly get into the head of psychopaths gets her assigned to the case, and she is forced to fight against the prejudices, mistrust, and hatred her colleagues have for her as she attempts to solve it. But as the body count continues to rise, Avery finds herself pitted against a serial killer who is as brilliant as she is. Consumed with trying to redeem herself, Avery allows the case to become her entire life. But even she could not have expected the horror into which it would lead her, and from which she might not escape.

My take:

The basic story line of Cause to Kill has the potential to be an extremely good book. Its execution, however, does not let that happen. Its potential was wasted by problems such as bad characterization, weak connections between events, and an average writing style.

The story’s main protagonist, Avery Black, was quite annoying as a character. Her need for redemption for definitely stressed upon, but she did little to actually make it reality. She was as arrogant as she was earlier, while constantly reiterating that she was no longer the same person. For someone who was supposed to be brilliant, she made very stupid choices in spite of being aware of the repercussions, and then blamed life for being unfair. Not exactly the best behavior for someone whose main goal was to begin taking responsibility for her actions and decisions. Then there was the way she kept switching from serious to flirty to friendly to God-knows-what – you just could not get an idea of what she really was as a person. So associating with her was very difficult.

Another annoying aspect was that Pierce seemed very keen on labeling her antagonist as a serial killer. And she went on to do so before the appearance of a second body and while the first case was still being worked upon as a personal crime. Serial killer based crime thrillers definitely have a following – but Cause to Kill did not unfold like one, it was just assumed to be one from the get-go, which gave the entire investigation a muddled-up feel.

The story also seemed choppy. Some aspects could really have been elaborated upon to give it that well-rounded feel, but they were left short. As a result, the story felt like it was trying too hard on the unexpected twists, which ended up being abrupt, often pointless, and forced.

Finally, the killer’s motive and psychology were also not explored to their full potential. It began really well, with great promise, but wasn’t really delved into or even bothered with, which left you with that uncomfortable this-story-didn’t-end-in-a-neat-little-bow feeling. And it also just took away all the impact with which the killer’s story had begun.

What Cause to Kill did have going for it was the relatively fast pace and storyline which, at the very crux of it, was decently intriguing. That’s why I would recommend it to:

  • people looking for a quick crime thriller junk read
  • hardcore crime thriller fans

After the slight disappointment that this book was, I would not bother with the rest of the Avery Black series by Pierce. But, I had definitely enjoyed Once Gone more than I did Cause to Kill (you can check out my review for that book over here), so I may read some of her other series if I need a short and fast crime thriller fix.

Share your thoughts on Cause to Kill and Blake Pierce’s other works in the comments below!

– Rishika

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Review: Once Gone (By Blake Pierce)

 

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Source: Goodreads

 

Length: 200 pages

My take: 3 out of 5 stars

Riley Paige has her own demons to face. The horrifying memories of the last case that had almost cost her her life still hold her in their grip. But when a woman turns up dead in the outskirts of Virginia, her body grotesquely positioned to mimic a doll, Riley gets an opportunity to fight the fear that is slowly claiming her. Although unsure of whether she should really be back in the field, the knowledge that this is the work of a killer who’s struck before, and who will strike again, makes the decision easy for Riley. And she does what she knows best – slips into the mind of a serial killer and chooses to get obsessed with the case. But the past has a stronger grip on her than she’d first realized. With her personal and professional lives crumbling around her under the strain of the trauma she’s faced, Riley is forced to face questions she may not want answered. Will she ever overcome the fear that continues to haunt her? Has she truly lost the grit that made her who she was? And can she stop the killer who is claiming lives with growing frequency, or will more victims pay the price for her breaking mind?

My take:

The first thing to know about Once Gone is that it is, simply put, a fast paced, page turning, crime thriller. It’s got a bit of abnormal psychology in it – the protagonist is, after all, a part of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, but it’s not a psychological thriller as much as it is a crime thriller.

The story itself is really good. It’s got just the right amount of suspense, thrill, background, and detail, and moves along at a brisk pace. But it falls short at the end. It ends very abruptly with almost no real depth to the ‘why’ and ‘how’. It just gives a brief insight into those aspects and that leaves you a bit disappointed.

The characters are decently developed. Most of them are likable, or detestable, as the case may be, even if they have very small roles to play. Pierce has a good way to create very real personalities for the characters. Which is why some aspects, however small, really get to you.

Riley Paige, for instance, is one of the most annoying characters I’ve ever seen, while still managing to be likable. You can feel for her through most of the book, sympathize with her, even associate with her to some extent. But there are also these times where she acts like an absolute blithering, fragile, little thing. And given that she’s supposed to be this tough, excellent-at-her-work agent, you feel like smacking some sense into her. What worsens this is that even though she’s fighting the bad memories from her recent past (and crying about it a whole lot), she still continues to act in the same way that got her into that bad situation in the past in the first place. So it seems like she’s okay with crying about how her life is breaking apart because of one decision gone bad, but she doesn’t want to change the ways that made her take that decision in the first place.

But, Riley is meant to be obsessive and stubborn. And the repetitive behavior could be an indication of her actual personality which is still persisting in spite of everything that is trying to break it. I just wish that Pierce had depicted it slightly better, and not like she was on a constant mood swing. So although you get the meaning behind her actions, it does get annoying that you have to look through layers to be able to see it.

There is constant development with the other characters too. A lot of them come into their own as the book progresses, standing out better and stronger than when it began. And that works well for the storyline. It gives the story a nice rounded off feel rather than making it seem like it rides only on one character who is just about likable.

So what makes it a 3-star read? Its pace and ease to read. Once Gone is not meant to be literary art, it’s meant to be a fast moving crime thriller, and it does its job really well. It’s got just enough twists, turns, psychos, dramas, and trauma to make it a good read for fans for the genre. In fact, it does well enough to make you want to read the others in the series. Which is why I will definitely be reading more of Blake Pierce when I want to read something that is quick, light, and fun.

One thing that does strike you about the book is that it does not paint a rosy picture of a world where there is no evil or where good always trumps bad. Pierce paints a realistic picture of the existence of evil in a world we often assume to be safe and warm. It’s a harsh truth and the author puts it across bluntly enough. It is just something that is put forth, making everything that happens, a part of that truth – and this is a given for the characters and the story.

If you’re looking for something that is going to make you think deep and long about life and society and anything philosophical, Pierce is not the way to go. But I’d definitely recommend the book to anyone who likes TV shows like Criminal Minds, or who enjoys crime thrillers and psychological thrillers. It’s also a great book to take on vacation to read on a flight or drive – short, to the point, and quick.

– Rishika

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