Review + Giveaway: Dead Lies

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Welcome to my tour stop for Dead Lies by Cybele Loening! Dead Lies is a mystery novel and the tour runs October 22-30 with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. For access to all the fun festivities, check out the tour schedule.

DeadLies_mediumTitle: Dead Lies
Author: Cybele Loening
Publisher: Balboa Press
Release Date: June 2014
Length: 131 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense 

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Former NYPD cop Anna Valentine just landed her first homicide case: the grisly double murder of a wealthy young couple. But it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Recovering from personal tragedies, the young police office just moved with her traumatized child to the suburbs where she hoped to pursue a quiet life and heal. To complicate matters, although she’s sworn off men until she and her son are happy and whole again, Anna feels the pull of attraction to the handsome twin brother of one of the murder victims, a man who has yet to be crossed off the suspect list. Teaming up with lead detective Jerry Kreeger, a 57-year-old veteran cop who’s lonely, broke and close to burnout, Anna chases a crafty killer and ultimately exposes a family’s shocking secrets that will rock a town.

***** Guest Post *****

Why You Should Follow Your Dreams (Even If It Sounds Crazy!)

I’m so pleased to be here! This is my first blog tour ever. I never thought I would write a mystery novel. I took a big risk in writing it, and now I’m living the life I always dreamed of having.

For thirteen years I was a magazine editor in New York City, working at places like Glamour, McCall’s, Mode and Prevention. I was even a bridal editor for a few years. It was exciting and even glamorous at times, and I loved what I was doing. I had always wanted to work with words.

From the outside, it looked like I had the perfect life. But inside, I felt off.

I found that at my core, I was unsatisfied. I was really good at editing and my career looked promising. There was even talk that I would be made Editor-in-Chief, which meant that I would be running my own magazine. But at some point I realized my soul was not being nourished. I was sick of watching other people write when that’s what I wanted to be doing. It’s something I’d wanted since I was a little girl. But I had never tried because I didn’t think I was good enough.

I’ve always been a huge fan of mysteries, especially by authors I revere like Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly and Mary Higgins Clark. I run an entire Facebook page devoted to mysteries, real and fictional. It fuels so much of who I am and what I love.

So one day, I just decided to take a risk and make the leap. I quit my “perfect” job in the city, and started a new journey. I also moved out to the country, something I had always wanted to do.

And just like that, everything began to fall into place. My happiness increased about a millionfold. Time seemed to fall away while I wrote. The quiet dirt roads where I walked fueled my creativity and my spirit. And that year I met the love of my life. Most importantly for this tour, I finished my detective novel, Dead Lies, a story about murder and family secrets in a wealthy town. It is a real pot boiler, the kind of book I have always loved to read.

So much changed when I just became too sick of being unhappy. I wanted change more than I wanted to be comfortable. It had become unbearable. So I let myself escape. It changed everything.

I know how this sounds. I know it seems crazy to just take a huge risk in your life. I know it seems impossible. Everything could go wrong! I could fail!

But that’s the whole point: Everything could change and be exactly how you always imagined it could be. Your dreams could be closer than you ever imagined they were. They’re just waiting for you to reach out and grab them.

Whatever your dream is, take the first step. Today. It doesn’t have to be a huge leap, just a baby step. Hold tight to your dream. Have faith. Go for it. No one else is going to do it for you. You’ll have to do it yourself. And now is the time. Because if not now, when?

I hope you all enjoy my book, and see it as how I do: proof of what can happen when you take the big scary leap. My life is one hundred percent different because of this little mystery book. I hope it inspires you to make your own leap.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Serena and Bill Vance are upper crust of Avondale society. They area  wealthy couple and their lives show it. However, the two quickly find out money can’t buy the children they so desperately want. Despite being on medication to manage her depression, Serena was also taking fertility drugs. Suddenly the beautiful couple who lived in the beautiful house are left bruised and broken and Anna Valentine lands her first homicide case. Unfortunately, she must work with Jerry Kreeger, the lead detective in the area, and must follow his directives. Serena’s twin brother, Web, plays a pivotal role in helping unfold the events of Serena’s life as Anna and Kreeger dig deeper to uncover why a wealthy, affluent young couple was brutally murdered in their own home. As the case develops and becomes more complicated, Anna discovers she has a distinct connection to Web Vance that is tied to both of their recent losses.

The Players

Anna – a single mother; suffered her own traumatic loss; working on the Vance case; wants to be a Good Cop

Kreeger – a veteran homicide detective divorcé; ends up overseeing the Vance case working with Anna and Web

Leon/De Luca – a homicide detective under Kreeger’s direction; second-most decorated officer after Kreeger; working the Vance case

Web – twin brother to Serena; seeks answers and investigates into his sister’s death; wants justice

Serena – Web’s twin sister; managing depression with medication; also trying to get pregnant

Bill – Serena’s husband

Tim – one of Web’s best friends; known as a bachelor and hates kids

Danny – one of Web’s best friends; married to Tanya with four kids

Tanya – Danny’s wife; known as a gold digger among Danny’s friends

Casey – Danny’s oldest child; works at Anna’s favorite Starbucks

It is hard to say who the main character of this book is, given that it follows both Anna and Web primarily. I enjoyed Anna’s character as a woman working in a harsh field, especially given her first career choice and continuing to work in the field after suffering her own tragic and senseless loss.

The best supporting character award goes to Tim. Whenever Web needed him, Tim was instantly there by his side. Of course, he wanted answers to his questions, too, just like Web and the detectives. Tim’s support helps Web make it through the loss and the grief, and he also helps keep Web on a slightly even keel at times.

After the initial interviews with Web’s family, they fade into the background. I was interested to know their respective thoughts and get insight into their characters to have a myriad of emotions and reactions, but that wasn’t the focus of the book.

First Impressions

Look at that house! It’s like a mini manor! I was thinking this book would be set in England after just glancing at the cover, but after beginning reading and comparing to the cover, I kept thinking Avondale was very…suburban for such a sprawling estate as pictured on the cover.

Second Thoughts

Anna is a former NYPD cop who has moved to the suburbs to lick her wounds and allow them – and her son’s – to heal. However, her first homicide case doesn’t allow her to do that very easily. Not when she discovers the beautiful Serena Vance has a twin brother, Web. It instantly forms her connection, an unspoken bond, with Web.

There is a distinctive separation of characters in this novel: the cop side and the family side. The lines between the two become blurred after Anna reveals her tragedy and connection to Web. In that moment Web saw Anna in an entirely new light, and it allowed these two characters to come together and help one another with their own personal grief and sense of guilt.

“It’s just that I see Serena everywhere in this town, you know?” he told his friends. “She is standing on the steps of the high school and outside the Warner Quad theater. I see her playing Frisbee in the Buckleys’ yard and at every other house we visited growing up.”

Coming from New York, Anna has seen it all, but these kinds of things don’t happen in the quiet and affluent area of Avondale. It is unheard of, but raises the question to both the investigative team and the Marino family of how well you know others, even your own family members. Even your own twin.

Kreeger is a burnt-out divorcé with two grown daughters that he doesn’t spend nearly enough time with. His life is his job and he takes charge of the Vance case. Despite taking over the case from Anna, Kreeger doesn’t pull rank and territory and push her out. Instead, he allows her to join the homicide investigation. He doesn’t object to her commentary and input, and that is viewed by Anna as a positive welcoming. I really enjoyed the beginning of their working relationship. It shows a depth and greater sense of respect from Kreeger for the profession and professionalism in the police field.

The plot quickly develops as Anna and Kreeger focus in on their prime suspect, but as with all great crime novels, there are complexities to the plot that no one saw coming. As the investigation continues full-force, the finger begins to sway and point toward another prominent individual, as other interesting pieces of information pop up convoluting the investigation and casting suspicion on many.

Anna and Kreeger grow together as professionals working on the Vance case. Given the hours their positions demand, they spend plenty of time together around the clock. This allows the two of them to also open up and share insights into their respective lives. It is during one of these moments that Anna explains Good Cops and Bad Cops to Kreeger, and the importance of always knowing which one your partner is.

Kreeger later struggles with an ethical dilemma – a coworker and also a friend – and he must determine the right course of action. The legal standpoint is clear to Kreeger, but the ramifications of such legalities would swirl his longtime friendship down the toilet.

She watched him walk to the door and noticed that his movements weren’t as quick and effortless as the usual, but slow and labored, as if some unseen hand was pushing down on his head. He was clearly conflicted about the situation. He paused at teh door and turned around, looking like he wanted to say something. He put his hand on the door frame and thought for a moment before saying, “You know that theory your have about Good Cops and Bad Cops?”

She nodded.

“Which one does this make me?”

Anna fought the urge to cry. He wore his guilt like a heavy coat. “Jerry, you’re the best cop I know.”

Loening clearly and cleanly makes the point that we never know the true depths of even our most loved ones, as Web and the rest discover as the investigation into Serena and Bill’s lives deepen. There are other side issues such as ethics, grief, friendship and professionalism that crop up within the case related to the Vance murders, but of these the biggest is friendship.

Dead Lies is written so well that everything is tied up at the end neatly and cleanly. Given the position that Anna finds herself in at the end of the novel, I was very impressed with how she handled everything and the choices she makes. As the end neared, I became increasingly concerned that I would be disappointed, but Loening did not disappoint. I highly recommend this book. It makes for a perfect fall read.

***** About the Author *****

Becoming a novelist was a dream come true for Cybele Loening, and one that was many years in the making. Like many aspiring writers and creative types, when she completed her education, she didn’t think she could make a living doing what she loved. So, she took a job that was related to writing but not actually writing: She became an editor. She loved editing but never gave up her dream of writing a novel someday.

It wasn’t until she was in her late thirties that she finally realized “someday” was right now. After many years of working in Corporate America, she was burned out of her job and exhausted by city living. She realized she was giving her best energy to a career and life that no longer fit. So, she took a huge leap of faith and quit her job to write full-time. The book she began writing eventually became Dead Lies.

Quitting her job was a scary step, but it changed her life. Tapping away at her keyboard, she realized she was happier than she had been in a while. She felt creative and energized again and was thrilled to have discovered her passion, her life’s work.

That one brave step into the unknown led to other wonderful changes in her life. For years she had dreamed of living in the country, so she began renting a cottage in Litchfield County, Connecticut, to see how it felt. She never looked back. And it was in this idyllic place that she met her soul mate and now husband, the life and business coach, Brooke Loening. They married a few years later, and together they renovated a home in which they now both live and work.

Spending her days writing and living in a place she loves, she has found bliss she never thought possible.

A spiritual seeker and lover of all of life’s mysteries, Cybele is hard at work on the next book in the Anna Valentine Detective Series and a memoir. She is also a blogger with a global mission: to help women achieve their dreams and live their very best lives.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

5 audiobook copies (through audible.com) of DEAD LIES by Cybele Loening (INT)

Ends Nov. 4

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.
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