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Dirty Little Secrets: A J.J. Graves Mystery, Book 1 | [Liliana Hart]

Dirty Little Secrets: A J.J. Graves Mystery, Book 1

J.J. Graves has seen a lot of dead bodies in her line of work... She's not only in the mortuary business, but she's also the coroner for King George County, Virginia. When a grisly murder is discovered in the small town of Bloody Mary, it's up to J.J. and her best friend, Detective Jack Lawson, to bring the victim justice. The murders are piling up...
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Publisher's Summary

J.J. Graves has seen a lot of dead bodies in her line of work... She's not only in the mortuary business, but she's also the coroner for King George County, Virginia. When a grisly murder is discovered in the small town of Bloody Mary, it's up to J.J. and her best friend, Detective Jack Lawson, to bring the victim justice. The murders are piling up... The residents of Bloody Mary are dropping like flies, and when a popular mystery writer shows up on J.J.'s doorstep with plans of writing his new book about the Bloody Mary Serial Killer, J.J. suspects the writer might be going above and beyond the call of duty to create the spine-tinglers he's so well known for.

It only clouds the issue and puts her reputation on the line when the attraction between them spirals out of control. And passions are rising... J.J. and Jack are in a race against time. They discover each victim had a shocking secret, and the very foundation of J.J.'s life is in danger of crumbling when it turns out she's harboring secrets of her own-secrets that make her the perfect victim in a deadly game.

©2011 Liliana Hart (P)2013 Liliana Hart

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  •  
    Smitten with Reading Texas 01-15-14
    Smitten with Reading Texas 01-15-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
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    44
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    "A rating...."

    My Review:
    Overall.... 4.50
    Performance... 4.50
    Story.... 4.50

    Wow...what a great start to this series. This book was incredible. I started out listening to it on audio and then couldn't stand the time to wait to listen to the last 20% of the book and switched to the Kindle version...love that whispersync option!

    This is the first book in the J.J. Graves mystery series. J.J. is a doctor who had to come home to run her parent's funeral home after they suddenly died in a car crash. Because of budget cuts, she's also the county's coroner which often puts her working with her best friend, Jack, who's the sheriff. Bloody Mary is a small town mysterious deaths aren't a common occurrence...until this book begins.

    I love J.J. and how real she feels. She's unhappy with her situation, but is stuck. ..she even fantasizes about completely disappearing from her life, but her friendship with Jack is the one thing keeping her anchored. Their relationship was awesome. I love how they truly are best friends. He knows it's been 4 years since she had sex. She knows about every one of his many, many sexual exploits. They are close....so close...and that friendship and camaraderie made this book such a good read. I especially loved how jealous he got of Brody...hmm, interesting, wasn't it?

    I'll admit, this book kept me guessing until the very end. I knew it could go one of two ways and it went one of them which is so heartbreaking for J.J. It will be interesting to see how the twists and turns at the end of the book play out for the series. Lots of things that were hinted at that are still unresolved that I can see will play out probably over several books here. I can't wait to find out and immediately went and downloaded both audio and kindle versions of book #2 as soon as I finished this one. I can't wait to start it today!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Moose Bristol, VA USA 03-10-15
    A. Moose Bristol, VA USA 03-10-15 Member Since 2013

    WDW Moose

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Promising mystery, but lousy romance"
    What would have made Dirty Little Secrets better?

    More mystery, less sex and constant talk of sex. I found this book in the modern detective section of mysteries. I had no idea that it would be half mystery half really bad Harlequin Romance.The main character is a coroner investigating several murders, yet 75% of her thoughts and conversation revolves around sex, how long it's been since she's had sex, and hen she will have sex again. It was boring pretty quickly.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    The murderer was a surprise. The why was a bit contrived, but it was pretty well thought out.


    Have you listened to any of Laura Faye Smith’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No this was my first book narrated by Ms. Smith. She was good and had very good control of her characters.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Dirty Little Secrets?

    Everything involving the mystery writer, Brody. I liked him and he could have added to the story as an outsider and possible suspect. But Brody was only treated as a warm body for the main character to objectify.


    Any additional comments?

    The main character is supposed to be a 30year old doctor, but her internal monologue and actions are more in line with an 18 year old. In one scene she moans about how she has to be cheap in buying groceries and worries about 30 dollars sending her over her credit limit.

    In the next scene she buys a cashmere dress, accessories, and underwear from a high end store for her date with Brody. She doesn't' t look at price tags and then notches lunch from Jack because her life is depressing and she's so poor.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ftmgal 02-20-15
    ftmgal 02-20-15 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    53
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    "Ok but not much more than that."

    Pretty thin plot. I'm always disappointed when the killer turns out to be a minor character with no red herrings even pointing to him. I feel somehow cheated.

    Narrator was fine but not exceptional. Kind of how I felt about the whole thing!!

    Won't buy this author again with all the truly exceptional stuff waiting to be heard.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela United States 07-27-13
    Angela United States 07-27-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    64
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    24
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    Story
    "Like a pilot for a tv series..."

    This book for me is similar to a pilot for a tv series - the characters and the plot are just getting settled into their roles and there are moments where they don't feel "firm". There are a couple of times where I felt something was off with the characters, but by the second book the author had the flow and characters down pat.
    This book is a short one at just over 5 hours. It might come across as a bit rushed for some so I give that warning, but I feel it's a good start to the series and I liked it enough to purchase the second book.
    I will say there are no clues as to who the murderer is throughout the story. *cheeky grin* But you do meet him early on in the story. This is something a little different for me as most mysteries I listen to have clues and I can guess them with accuracy pretty early on. So it was a refreshing change.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Squeak Alaska 01-17-14
    Squeak Alaska 01-17-14 Member Since 2009

    The Dragon Mother

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nice Little Mystery"

    This was a nice little suspense mystery told from the coroner, J. J. Graves, point of view. I did enjoy the build-up of suspense as the body count rose and the different little clues that pointed in different directions for our coroner and detective to follow.

    This book hit on one of my mystery pet peeves. One of the things that I enjoy about a good mystery is being able to follow along with the lead person and try to figure out what is going on right along with them. Sometimes I can figure it out and sometimes I can’t, but I enjoy the attempt. My pet peeve is when absolutely no clues lead to the person doing the crime or when a previously unknown character comes into the story at the end and reveals all. Although the person doing the crimes in this book is mentioned in the story, absolutely nothing points his way until the big reveal. So at the end of the story is a nicely wrapped up conclusion given to you by the killer when he tells why he did everything … not the mystery being solved by the detective or the coroner.

    This book is the first book in the J. J. Graves Mystery series. Even though this book is part of a series, it could definitely be read as a stand-alone book. No cliffhangers, thank you Ms. Hart!

    The Narration Review
    This audiobook was narrated by Laura Faye Smith. This was the first narration I heard from Ms. Smith and I really enjoyed it. She had good voices and a crisp clean sound to her narration. She was a good choice for this mystery detective read.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane 03-14-15
    Jane 03-14-15 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This is Mostly a Chick Lit Romance"
    What did you like best about Dirty Little Secrets? What did you like least?

    The setting in small-town Virginia was appealing and the mystery story line was okay, but as in most romances and chick lit books, the protagonist is full of spunk and saucy comments, does way too much talking to herself (or are these asides to the reader?) and the overriding concern in the book is the heroine's love life instead of the mystery.

    As if this weren't enough to completely disappoint the reader expecting a modern detective story, the reader mispronounced numerous words - in reading "bow to stern", a boat reference, for instance, she actually pronounced "bow" as in "bow tie". Did she have any idea what she was reading?

    Very disappointing.


    Would you recommend Dirty Little Secrets to your friends? Why or why not?

    No. It's juvenile and kind of stupid.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    By mispronouncing words.


    Do you think Dirty Little Secrets needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No. The author didn't make me care one way or another about the characters.


    Any additional comments?

    I have bought several books that are categorized as mysteries or detective stories which are really thinly disguised romances.

    The characterizations are very thin.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elton 01-18-15
    Elton 01-18-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "What a book!"

    This is an excellent story, gave me chills at the end. I'm sad this book is over but excited to start the next book in this series. Keep writing this kind of books please! You're a damn good writer and I love reading your books! They make me feel like I'm escaping my boring life and living inside your books! Thank you!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    HaloLove 09-09-14
    HaloLove 09-09-14 Member Since 2015

    🌺 Lover of Amazing Stories 🌺

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I ༻❣LOVED❣༺ IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
    What did you love best about Dirty Little Secrets?

    Having no freakin' clue who the actual killer was! I thought I knew and was completely blown away when all was revealed!


    What did you like best about this story?

    The relationship between JJ and Jack! It's exactly how a woman with a guy best friend acts when their are no ( friend benefits) lol. And I'm so glad there isn't because their friendship seems that much more beautiful!


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Hmmm...there were a few and I'll have to go back and reread but JJ personality is awesome! And some of her personal thoughts are the exact thoughts I had when I turned 30. All that made her character seem so real.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Oh absolutely!

    I've said it before, I'm not normally on board with female narrators when it's action romance but this particular narrator does a fabulous job!!! Her performance is truly a 10 and she's the only female narrator that I like listening too!!!


    Any additional comments?

    A pathologist knows, murders need evidence! So I was disappointed she fell into the role of damsel in distress. I mean, if you know you're going to die, then dang girl, scratch, bite, kick, throw furniture...hell, throwing the dang on phone in his face would have been better than what she did. Brutal marks need to be left on the face, body, and environment, so anyone who finds you know you left evidence of your murder and murderer! That was a disappointing and un-satisfying scene!!!!!! Didn't ruin the story though.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chantal Noordeloos The Netherlands 05-27-15
    Chantal Noordeloos The Netherlands 05-27-15 Member Since 2014

    Chanti

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "A romance novel disguised as a thriller"

    I am not a fan of romance, so this book was very disappointing. Half the book is about who the character finds attractive, or who find her attractive. The characters are flat and the story is unremarkable. This is definitely for a different target audience.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Mcferran Corydon, IN 03-18-15
    J. Mcferran Corydon, IN 03-18-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    "Some secrets should be taken to the grave"

    I read through all of the reviews before I purchased this book. After I listened to it for awhile, I wondered, "Why on earth did I choose this book?" I headed back to Audible to check - and sure enough, lots of very glowing reviews, which frankly baffle me. This book was simply written on a very juvenile level. The plot reads like a summary, the characters are completely undeveloped. Worst of all, probably, is the dialogue. Characters say things which NO one would (or should) say. When the dialogue didn't come off as totally flat and trite - it could be absolutely cringeworthy or embarrassingly laughable. That, in combination with the fact that the plot just sort of lurches from point to point with no real development, made for a shallow, formulaic novel that was impossible to buy into at all. For example: Brody meets J.J. Brody asks J.J. if he can shadow her/study her/pick her brain for a novel he is writing. Within the space of a paragraph, sexual tension ensues. Sort-of. I mean - that is what the author intends when she says, "Moisture pools between her thighs." To me, that sounds less like arousal and more like J.J. just peed her pants. Immediately thereafter, Brody tells J.J. , "That lean, sexy body under layers of clothes (her sweatpants - apparently now extra sweaty) is wreaking havoc on my imagination. Full lips that beg to be kissed and wounded eyes the color of cloudy skies. Your eyes undo me." This is like the fifth or sixth thing the guys says to her. And which fifth or sixth grade boy did he steal the line from? "Your eyes undo me?????" OK J.J. - I know you just threw up in your mouth - admit it. I would have laughed the guy out of my office. THANK GOODNESS the book did not detail the sex scenes - I don't think I could have taken it.

    On top of that, I felt like the author kept a book of stock little phrases at hand to sprinkle through the novel. But even then, they didn't even make sense. J.J. is discussing why her life is stale, boring and uneventful - and she uses the phrase 'my life was spiraling out of control.' What??

    Speaking of stock little things - I'd also have to include the portrayal of the 'small town' folk who perform and say such small minded little things like: A. advising J.J. to poke holes in in Brody's condoms so she can get pregnant and trap him into marriage, B. freely and loudly speculating about their neighbors sexual lives in a diner, C. after speculating wildly about their neighbors private lives coming to erroneous conclusions about the killer, nearly forming a vigilante mob ...... You know, I've lived in some really, really small towns. That doesn't equate to really, really small minds. It was a SO unimaginative and stereotypical. All together, it made for something unbelievable and laughable, and not in a comic relief sort-of way.

    If what you are looking for is a light little mystery and a light little romance - then you might enjoy this book. I will say that it did have its moments - places where my inner critique was silenced and I just listened along in the flow of the story. That tells me that the dialogue in parts is more believable and natural. But that hardly seems enough to recommend this novel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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