In the Belly of Jonah (Liv Bergen Series #1)

In the Belly of Jonah (Liv Bergen Series #1)

by Sandra Brannan

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Overview

In the Belly of Jonah is a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book expertly lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Streeter Pierce.
Liv becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of Jill Brannigan, a summer intern at the limestone mine Liv manages near Fort Collins, Colorado (a breathtaking setting that unwittingly becomes an accessory to crime). In doing so, she inadvertently puts her friends, her family, and herself at risk of being swallowed in the belly of a madman bloated with perverse appetites for women, surrealistic art, and renown.
Perhaps a bit too daring (and at times irreverent) for her own good, ''Boots,'' as Liv's eight siblings call her, soon realizes she has a knack for outsmarting and tracking down the Venus de Milo murderer--and she enjoys it! As the gripping plot of In the Belly of Jonah unfolds, Liv Bergen takes her place alongside the best female crime-solvers as a woman with smarts, self-confidence, and intuitive savvy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608320509
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group, LLC
Publication date: 09/01/2010
Series: Liv Bergen Series , #1
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 628,618
Product dimensions: 6.58(w) x 11.22(h) x 0.81(d)

About the Author

For twenty-five years, Sandra Brannan has run a division in the mining company that was founded by her grandfather, father, and uncle in 1944. She lives with her family in Rapid City, South Dakota. In the Belly of Jonah is her first novel.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

A BOTTLE ATOP A tiny two-drawer cabinet next to a larger two-drawer cabinet. Where had she seen this before?

The cabinets were brown. The bottle was brown. The cork, brown. The gravel beneath her feet, the hills around Horsetooth Dam, the rowboats nearby, even the clouds in the dark sky. Brown. Differing shades of brown, as far as she could tell in the moonlight, but brown nonetheless. The dress he had made her put on — simple and old-fashioned, with eggshell-colored lace serving as trim around the collar and the tight short sleeves — was a warm chocolate brown.

Undressing in front of him had made her tremble. Not because of the cool June night in the Rocky Mountain foothills but because she dreaded what would come next. She was proud of having remained chaste and she didn't want to lose her virginity now. Not like this. But he hadn't raped her. Instead, he had just stared at her nakedness and smiled. His dark eyes were wild and still. They didn't scan her body as she would have anticipated;rather, his stare pinned her in place, rendering her useless to fight back or run or scream.

But she was strong enough, fast enough, crazy enough to fight back. Even after sleeping off the roofie or whatever it was that he had slipped into her drink, so disoriented when she had awakened that she had no clue what time or even what day it was. She had lain in the dark room for what seemed like hours, trying to clear her mind, regain her strength, calculate a way out of this mess. She had pretended she was with her mother, laying her head on her lap, feeling hands stroke her hair, and hearing her say everything was going to be all right. And she had felt strong again.

When she had tried the doorknob in the dark room, it didn't give. The only window was covered by a steel grate that had been welded on the inside of the frame. There was no escape. He had done this before, she had thought. She wasn't his first prisoner. Or his last. And then a second thought had come to her. She hadn't heard or read anything recently about women disappearing or dead bodies being found. A wave of relief had washed over her mind then. She wasn't going to die after all. She just had to do what her abductor told her to do.

So, here she stood, focusing all her energy on being still, obedient. Dressed like a settler, complete with a homespun apron, and standing amid the bizarre props he had pulled from the back of his truck.

He had promised her earlier that night that if she obeyed his every instruction, he would not harm her. But if she did not obey he would turn his attention to Julia. She would not let that happen. Even if it killed her.

Her frazzled nerves had paralyzed the part of her brain that was trying to recall where she'd seen this setting before. The odd cabinets they had both carefully placed near the water's edge at his instruction, the wooden cane he was carrying, the dress. It was somehow familiar, but she couldn't quite recall why. And why did it even matter whether she had seen this before? Something primordial demanded it of her, though. She must know the reason for all this.

Neither his stare nor his smile had changed, even after she had finished dressing. What was he fantasizing about her? Was she his maid? His pilgrim? His little woman in his little house on some stupid prairie out west?

But the shoes. They were the most confusing part of all. Her high-top leather basketball shoes and tube socks were heaped by the shoreline next to her blue jeans, T-shirt, and green CSU hoodie. Next to the heap was a pair of tan Converse low-top tennis shoes with no laces.

He told her to slip on the shoes.

For some reason, this was deeply disturbing. The shoes didn't match the dress. Not that she had any fashion sense whatsoever. That was Julia's talent, not hers. Something in the pit of her stomach lurched at the thought of Julia slipping on the shoes instead of her, making his threat and her compliance more important than ever. It was all much too surreal for her. Surreal.

Obedience, she told herself. Be obedient, and live. She slipped her feet into the shoes.

His smile widened. "Sit."

He hadn't hurt her. He had always been gentle, as well as meticulous, careful, prepared. As she sat watching, he spent a painfully long time positioning the props, particularly the bottle. She could see it better now. The combined shape formed by both the bottle and the smaller cabinet to the right was identical to the silhouette that had been cut away in the bottom door of the larger cabinet to the left. Or, seen another way, the shadowy cutout in the door of the cabinet on the left was mirrored in the posed objects on the right. A shadow of the small reflected on the large? Mirror images? Art mimicking art? The overpowering connection of this setting with a faint memory irritated her.

"Like my handiwork?" he purred.

She glanced away, disturbed that he had noticed her soaking up the scene, trying to figure out what this was all about. And why it seemed so familiar, yet elusive.

"Please. Why are you doing this?" was all she could manage.

"Recognizable, isn't it?"

Was he a mind reader too?

He turned his back to her and reached into the camper top of his pickup, which he'd pulled onto the rocky beach nearby. He was unwinding a long hose that looked a lot like the air compressor hoses she'd used at work. She hadn't seen this type before. Her eyes followed the hose to where it was connected to a large tank tucked toward the front of the truck bed. Panic swelled in her belly, constriction overtook her throat. She sprang to her feet, tears burning her eyes.

"Please, please, don't hurt me," she sobbed.

"Hush,"he cooed, dropping the nozzle at her feet and touching her elbow lightly. "We had a deal. I won't hurt you or Julia if you just let me finish."

"What are you going to do?"

She wasn't really sure she wanted an answer to that question, but she was sure she needed to keep talking. She needed to hear her own voice, as if awakening herself from this horrible nightmare.

"This won't take long," he said as he guided her back onto the ground and walked behind her. He started fondling her hair, twisting and stroking it between the pads of his fingers and thumbs. "Now pull your lovely brown hair up in a knot, just above the nape of your neck."

She did as she was told, trembling with fright as she wrapped her long hair in a tight bun. He handed her a band and pins to secure the knot. She heard the gravel crunch beneath his feet as he backed away from her. She stole a glance over her shoulder and saw him staring at her, holding his hands to form a picture frame as if capturing a snapshot with her in the foreground and the cabinets and reservoir in the background.

"Look across the water, will you, Jill?"

She did as she was told. She heard him groan with pleasure.

"Now, please stand up and take the dress and shoes off again."

Trembling, she handed him the dress and shoes, and he set them aside. She was standing stark naked in front of him once again. The disconnect between his lack of interest in her nudity and his interest in her surroundings was like a cold finger dragging along her spine. He placed a folded towel in the shallow water and said, "Sit, please."

"It's ... it's so cold. I can't."

"Yes, you can. Haven't you ever heard of the fable about Jonah being swallowed by a whale?"

"Yes," she said in a small voice.

"Then you know you can."

He was insane, she thought. Certifiable. Stay calm. And keep him talking. "What do you mean?"

"Jonah was strong. Very strong." He smiled. "Jonah lived in the belly of a whale for years, decades. And he never complained of the cold, now did he?"

Her eyes widened. She glanced down at the submersed towel, a terrycloth manta ray floating in the shallows, wings bending back and forth, back and forth. She felt sick.

"Did he?" he barked.

She shook her head and bent on shaky knees, lowering herself onto the soggy towel.

"Never," he answered.

She wrapped her long arms around her knees, hugging herself into a fetal position. He squatted behind her, placing his hot, sweaty hands on her shoulders to keep from tottering. He struggled to pull something from his pocket with his right hand.

"What's that?"

"Nutrition."

Just as she felt his hot breath on her bare shoulder, she felt the prick of the needle in her right arm and immediately relaxed. A sudden euphoria enveloped her. This was all going to be okay, she thought. He wasn't going to hurt her. She wasn't going to catch her death of cold in this frigid water. In fact, it felt more like a Jacuzzi now. She was beginning to feel drowsy. He wasn't behind her anymore, but she didn't remember him leaving. Her body was warm and tingly. Maybe he was gone. Maybe it was all over now. She had nothing to fear.

Then she heard the squeak of a knob turning and the hose on the beach wiggled to life with a hiss. Her heart raced and her mind willed herself awake. She sat erect, fighting gravity to keep her head from lolling toward her chest. He was coming toward her again, the hose hissing near his feet. Her instincts told her to run, but when she moved to stand, her legs were too heavy to pull from the water, her arms too heavy to throw a punch. It was hard enough just to breathe.

She felt him slowly lower her shoulders to the ground, her limbs too weak to fight the fatigue. The water tickled her ears. He had promised her that everything would go back to normal again. She wanted to believe him. She wanted to believe that she would wake up and this would all be over. She wanted to sleep. She wanted to laugh at the water for licking her ears. But a small part of her still wanted to scream.

Her mind drifted to Jonah in the belly of that stinking whale. To what her captor had said about Jonah not complaining even after years, decades, in the belly.

"Three days," she croaked, remembering what Allan had told her. After only three days, the whale spat Jonah out on the beach at God's command. It wasn't a fable; it was a story from the Bible. He had it all wrong. It was days, just three days, not years or decades. Her mind floated away with the tide, with the whale, Jonah free.

In a burst of clarity, she was back at Horsetooth. She wasn't sure if she said the words aloud, but they came out like an echo in her ears, thick and slurred. "Please, I won't tell anyone."

Through the heavy fog in her head, she heard him say, "Neither will I."

CHAPTER 2

THE VIEW WAS SPECTACULAR.

I hadn't climbed up to watch a blast in more than two months, and I'd forgotten how amazing the landscape looked from this vantage point. Standing near the piñon grove at the north end of the quarry on top of the hogback, I could see the Rockies, dark and inviting, to the right of me and the plains, stretching to the horizon, far to the left.

Directly in front of me was the best part of all. The smooth layer of limestone just south of the road was pocked with three-inch-diameter holes; a neat pile of bright white drill cuttings lay around the lip of each hole. I counted the holes and, knowing the spacing and estimating the height of highwall in that area, quickly did the math. Twenty thousand tons. Less than the past few months' average, but better than Joe and I had thought. We were almost as far west as we wanted to be — maybe two or three shots away from the buffer — and still able to maintain the beautiful hogback ridge. We'd be reclaiming this area by next spring for sure, another fifteen to twenty acres restored in this hundred-year-old quarry.

I was proud of the progress we had made in the past five years: preparing nearly thirty percent of the quarry for reclamation and having earned release on half of that already. That meant the state approved our accomplishments and released us from bonding requirements. I looked down at the ground where I stood, which had not been mined and never would be, so the piñons would be protected, and at the area to the north of the road cut, where we had finished reclamation three years ago. I couldn't tell the difference between the two landscapes. Neither could the fox that was trotting off into the valley to the northeast.

I imagined what would be left of the limestone a half hour from now, picturing in my head the progression of mining blocks in the coming weeks, followed by the reclamation effort. A tiny movement in one of the holes caught my eye. Ronnie must have tugged a bit on one of the wires during his final check. My eyes traced the wires that snaked from each hole in the same general direction, gathering at a single point where, sure enough, Ronnie was doing his final check. I saw him lift the radio to his scruffy face and heard a crackle from the radio clipped to my hip.

"Ready, boss," Ronnie announced.

I glanced to my right, easily spotting Joe as he stood by his white truck in front of the crowd that had gathered on the opposite side of the hogback beyond the mouth of the quarry down the entrance road. Haul trucks, pickup trucks, loaders, and nearly two dozen employees waited patiently.

I saw him lift the radio to his lips.

"Unit three to unit ten?" Joe's voice crackled.

"Unit ten ready," Paul's voice sounded.

"Unit three to unit seven?"

"Unit seven ready," said Manuel.

"Unit three to unit thirteen?"

"Yo, ready boss," Shawn, our youngest supervisor, replied. I knew Joe would be having a chat with him by day's end regarding blasting procedures and safety protocol. I saw Joe shake his head slowly, then looked to my left and saw Ronnie's shoulders shake with laughter.

"Unit three to base?"

Darlene's voice was the clearest on my radio handset. "All neighbors have been called. Hal has the seismograph ready. Base clear."

"Unit three to unit eight?"

Back to you, Ronnie, I mouthed silently. Ronnie was talking to himself, likely counting down his checklist items. He nodded once in approval and pulled the radio to his lips. "Unit eight ready."

"All units please stay off the air until after the blast," Joe said.

Ronnie knelt over the detonation control he had strung behind the back bumper of his blasting truck and awaited Joe's command. I moved behind the large rock, poking my head up to watch but able to duck in the unlikely event that a blasting mishap sent fly rock in my direction.

A flash beyond Joe in my far right peripheral vision caught my eye, what must have been a glint of sunlight bouncing off the windshield of a car turning off the highway onto our entrance road. Joe must have seen it too because I saw him motion to Manuel, who was blocking the entrance road with his loader. Safety first. Joe hesitated while Manuel talked to the driver and then Manuel signaled with his thumb that everything was okay, and the car stayed put on the safe side of the loader.

I glanced at Ronnie, who had become antsy about the delay. Because he was on the opposite side of the hogback downhill from me, he was the only one who couldn't see Joe or the car that had entered our quarry. But he had seen me perched atop the ridge and was looking my way. I gave him my own comforting "okay"sign from behind the rock and he smiled, returning the gesture.

Joe started the countdown on the radio. "Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six."

We all did the rest of the countdown in our own heads, leaving the radio clear for an emergency abort by anyone on the team. With Joe having set the cadence, I counted down the rest of the way, and at precisely one second past zero, the ground rumbled, dust puffed, and rock crumbled as if Mother Earth had simply made a polite cough.

The sequential timing of the explosives was executed perfectly to minimize the ground vibration. The sky was cloudless and windless, which minimized any air blast. The dust settled quickly on top of the heap of limestone — perfectly blasted rock sized at twenty-four inches or less. The excitement I felt swelled into pride as I saw Ronnie rise to his feet with a grin.

Joe walked back to his truck and waited the agonizing minutes for any unwanted sound resulting from an unplanned, delayed detonation of a faulty blasting cap or misplaced wiring. The employees were anxiously and obediently waiting for the well-respected operations manager's signal that the shot had been denoted, the expended blasting material had been inspected and cleared, and everyone could safely return to work. But Joe always put his employees' safety ahead of their strong work ethic, taking the extra precaution of waiting out a mishap.

Within minutes, Joe was checking out the shot rock, inspecting the completeness of the blast and making sure that all holes were properly detonated. It reminded me of how my dad used to make sure all our fireworks had been expended before allowing the nine of us back outside to play the day after our Fourth of July celebrations. Safety first. With noses pressed against the big plate glass window of our living room, our mom telling us to be patient, we watched Dad as he wandered the driveway and yard back and forth, back and forth.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "In the Belly of Jonah"
by .
Copyright © 2010 Sandra Brannan.
Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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In the Belly of Jonah: A Liv Bergen Mystery 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good book. I liked the characters, The story moved along. there was a lot of suspension. Definatly worth the time
NatalieTahoe More than 1 year ago
Sandra Brannan's first installment in the Liv Bergen Mystery Series is a serial killer story unlike others. Peppered with wit, self-deprecation, and moments of stunning brutality, In the Belly of Jonah magically captures the intense paths of both the serial killer and the one in which to stop him. This killer is freakish, elusive, but generally "normal," inasmuch as someone who likes to kill, can be. Liv is honest and real, innocently figuring out each step of the puzzle to its frightening conclusion. Liv is a smart chick who can easily hold her own with the best of them - whether they are part of her quarry-mining team or with the FBI, she's not one to back down. And in this story, she can't back down because whether she likes it or not, she has a serial killer to stop. If you like Harlan Coban and Patricia Cornwall, you should probably rush right out to get this one for your bookshelf.
jcas More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book. Characters were real and suspense good. Will definitely read her second book of the series.
Lady_Mousie More than 1 year ago
I+really+enjoyed+this+book.+It+was+one+that+you+couldn%27t+put+down.
timetravel More than 1 year ago
What an interesting story! Although the book started out a little more gruesome than I like, the creepy feeling as the story moves through the gory details creates the necessary feeling of the evil from the serial killer. When Liv Bergen's former schoolmate and FBI profiler turns her home into a command post for the investigation of the murder of Liv's employee, she has no choice but to get involved. This is a very suspenseful story that does well to introduce each character and develop the relationships throughout. The character of Liv is a strong, smart, independent and likeable female character. I loved that there were hints of a possible romance and enjoyed watching for the early developments between the two characters. I can't wait for the next book in this series.
Tmtrvlr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What an interesting story! Although the book started out a little more gruesome than I like, the creepy feeling as the story moves through the gory details creates the necessary feeling of the evil from the serial killer. When Liv Bergen's former schoolmate and FBI profiler turns her home into a command post for the investigation of the murder of Liv's employee, she has no choice but to get involved. This is a very suspenseful story that does well to introduce each character and develop the relationships throughout. The character of Liv is a strong, smart, independent and likeable female character. I loved that there were hints of a possible romance and enjoyed watching for the early developments between the two characters. I can't wait for the next book in this series.
RapidCityPubLib on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Local author Sandra Brannan's debut novel, In the Belly of Jonah, is promising. Liv "Boots" Bergen is a likable protagonist and I can't wait to see her develop as the series progresses. There are parts of the story that don't feel as fleshed out as they could have been, but the story was gripping and suspenseful.
TooBusyReading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the Belly of Jonah isn't your cozy, funny mystery in which some clueless amateur stumbles across a bloodless corpse and solves a murder while baking cookies or shopping for stilettos. Well, actually, the protagonist, Liv Bergen, is a modern-day miner, not an investigator, so she is an amateur. And some of the corpses are pretty bloodless, but that doesn't mean they aren't grisly.For those who like hard-core mysteries as I do, this one is very entertaining. Yes, I had a good idea early in the book about who committed the murder, but then my theories developed some leaks and other people became suspect. I liked the Colorado setting, although I did have a problem with the author's character describing a limestone mine area that had been reclaimed 3 years previous, and comparing it to a never-mined area: I couldn't tell the difference between the two landscapes. I can't speak for the mines in the Fort Collins area, but some of those in El Paso County, reclaimed years ago, are still freaking ugly. You can't slice off part of a mountain, throw on a few grass seeds and some tree seedlings that are going to die, and call it reclaimed. But I digress.Some of the professionals investigators in this book did some really stupid things ¿ I would hope that is not realistic, but it did detract a bit. Instead of concentrating on the story, I wondered if they would really do those things, and their actions, or lack of them, seemed just too convenient to the story. I learned about an interesting bit of technology ¿ can't tell you, though, because that would be a spoiler. And I researched (well, Googled) an artist ¿ again not too much detail or I'll spoil the story ¿ and found some of his less popular works to be truly awful. Talented, yes, but horrible. Having this tie to a non-fictional person really added to the book.This book is more mystery than character study, so while the characters do have a reasonable depth, that is not the book's strong point. It is about the mystery. And for this genre, I thought it a good, solid, four-star read. I'm think I'm going to enjoy the second in this series, Lot's Return to Sodom. Thank you to JKS Communications who gave me an e-book copy of this book, and Tara, who sent me her hardcopy.
joemmama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Former Colorado resident, Sandra Brannan has written a riveting story, set in Fort Collins, Colorado. Since I live here, I can say that the setting is a good part of the story. It is always fun to recognize places when you are reading. At the forefront is a mystery, an intriguing villain, and a wonderful new heroine, Liv "Boots" Bergen.Liv Bergen is the boss of a limestone quarry, an unusual job for a woman. One of her female employees, an intern, has been savagely murdered, by a sadistic butcher, "The Venus de Milo Killer". This killer is depraved, he is one of the worst killer I have ever encountered in my reading, but, he is fascinating.When an old friend, and FBI profiler, Lisa Henry shows up on her doorstep, Liv learns that Jill is just the latest victim of a serial killer. While the FBI work to figure killer out, Liv figures out the murder weapon, earning the respect of both the local police, and the FBI. As future targets scramble about, unaware, the Special Agent in Charge, Streeter Pierce and his team frantically try to find the killer.There are some suspects among Jill's classmates, and as Streeter is questioning some of the professors at CSU, another murder is happening, with still another being planned. With everyone looking for answers, Liv is mourning her friend, and anger fuels her search for the killer.Will she be the next victim?This is not a romance. This is not a cute read. This is a seriously good read!This is a terrific, new, adult voice in the mystery genre. I look forward to more Liv Bergen and much more Sandra Brannan!I received this book from Marissa at JKS Communications. I cannot than her enough!
roses7184 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the Belly of Jonah is quite the gruesome mystery, and not exactly for the faint of heart. Liv Bergen is hit close to her heart when one of her temporary workers is murdered in a very odd way. Deemed "the de Milo murderer", this serial killer is all about artistic presentation of their victim. If you can call it art. Liv dives in head on, and gets herself in deeper than she meant to.Let me talk a little bit about Liv Bergen. As a female protagonist, Liv is by far one of my favorite characters of all time. She is strong, opinionated, but still kind. Liv is the type of woman who will be straight up with you about what she knows and doesn't know. Not abrasive, but still able to stand up for herself. The type of person that I'd want to hang out with on a daily basis. Liv is the essence of what all us "strong women" out there want to be, and I love her for it! I was also very appreciative of the fact that Sandra Brannan took this whole first book to build Liv up as a woman, before putting her into a romantic relationship. That edge is there, but it isn't fleshed out yet. I'm sure it will be in the next book!Of course In the Belly of Jonah also features a stunning murder mystery. As I mentioned above, the murders are grisly and a bit odd in nature. If you are a fan of CSI, there is a lot of very technical parts in here that you will enjoy as well. The reader is allowed to see into the inner workings of the murderer, as the point of view switches between them and Liv. What is created is a paradigm that your brain will be completely absorbed in. I was so caught up in trying to figure out who the voice of the murderer was portraying, that the book literally flew by. It took me until the last 50 pages before the pieces finally fell into place for me. I was so very impressed. A rip-roaring mystery of the finest kind, I highly recommend In the Belly of Jonah to any you out there who enjoy this genre. Heck, actually I'm sure you'd love this book even if you're not a big mystery fan. Liv is amazing, the story is extremely well-written, you'll be hooked!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A captivating novel. I wish it had the pictures of the paintings that the author was referencing.
My_Writing_Self_ More than 1 year ago
The gruesome, bizarre murder of college student, Jill Brannigan, sets off a series of events to find the serial killer known as "Venus de Milo". Liv "Boots" Bergen, manager of a limestone mine, becomes an unknowing amateur sleuth as she is swept into the investigation to track and find this killer. His murders have hit too close to home for Liv, and she is willing to do anything to bring him down. Streeter Pierce is an FBI agent who leads the investigation, and is impressed with the clues Liv has unearthed that have gotten him closer to finding the identity of the killer. Time is running out, however, and both their lives are in danger. Which one of them will be the killer's next target? I loved this suspenseful, mystery/thriller very much because author Sandra Brannan gets the reader right into the action in each chapter.  You feel you are solving the crime, along with Liv and the detectives. But, just when you think you know who the killer is, there is a plot twist that keeps you guessing. This is an exciting, fast-paced, edge of your seat, page turner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in a series that pits feisty, Liv Bergan against  a sick twisted 'artist' serial killer, with a strange deadly fascination with the artist Salvatore Dali.   Liv manages her families limestone quarry in Fort Collins, Colorado. When one of her summer interns is found dead in a very strange pose on the beach, the mystery pulls her inquiring intelligence into helping her FBI friend discover meaning to parts of the crime scene. I really enjoyed the intelligence of the clues.  The action was fast passed and led to a number of possible suspects. Liv, as a character, is very intelligent, fascinating and appealing.  I understand that in the next installment, this will segue into a love interest with an FBI agent that became very important to Liv in this first book.   I'm looking forward to starting book two immediately!  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story line that keeps you wanting to turn the pages. The main character is very likeable and is not the usual female character.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Liv Bergen is the manager of a quarry outside Ft. Collins, CO. She¿s having a normal start to her day when it is interrupted by the arrival of a police detective ¿ one of her employees, a summer intern, is missing. She later learns that the employee ¿ Jill Brannigan ¿ has been murdered. Later that day, she gets a call from an old friend of hers ¿ Lisa Henry ¿ with whom she played basketball at university in Laramie, WY. Lisa is now with the FBI ¿ a behavioral analyst ¿ and she has been called in to profile Brannigan¿s murder. The FBI believes Jill is the victim of the Venus de Milo Murderer ¿ a serial killer who poses his victims in bizarre ways, and cuts them in a way that has baffled the FBI, who have been unable to discern what sort of weapon made the cuts. SAC Streeter Pierce joins Lisa Henry in staying at Liv¿s house while they pursue the killer. The next victim shocks everyone ¿ Will the FBI be able to track down the killer before yet another victim is taken? This is quite a good debut novel ¿ good character development, carefully layered plot with a good pace. There were a couple minor plot discrepancies that were missed by the content editor, but I¿m not sure many people will have noticed them ¿ they didn¿t detract from the overall story. I would certainly recommend this initial book in the Liv Bergen Mystery Thriller series to fans of suspense, mysteries and thrillers. Also look for the second book in the series, released earlier this year, ¿Lot¿s Return to Sodom.¿
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