Close Up by Amanda Quick – Review and Excerpt

About the Book:

Welcome to Burning Cove, California where 1930s Hollywood glamour conceals a ruthless killer…

Vivian Brazier never thought life as an art photographer would include nightly wake-up calls to snap photos of grisly crime scenes or headshots for aspiring male actors. Although she is set on a career of transforming photography into a new art form, she knows her current work is what’s paying the bills.

After shooting crime scene photos of a famous actress, the latest victim of the murderer the press has dubbed the “Dagger Killer,” Vivian notices eerie similarities to the crime scenes of previous victims—details that only another photographer would have noticed—details that put Vivian at the top of the killer’s target list.

Nick Sundridge has always been able to “see” things that others don’t, coping with disturbing dreams and visions. His talent, or as he puts it—his curse—along with his dark past makes him a recluse, but a brilliant investigator. As the only one with the ability to help, Nick is sent to protect Vivian. Together, they discover the Dagger Killer has ties to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood royalty and high society. It is a cutthroat world of allure and deception that Vivian and Nick must traverse—all in order to uncover the killer who will stop at nothing to add them to their gallery of murders.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                                       Close Up

Read an Excerpt:

Vivian Brazier was attractive but not in the traditional sense. Her features were too striking, too bold, too intriguing. Too compelling. The effect was definitely more than skin- deep. If she lived to be a hun­dred she would still be a fascinating woman.

Her high-waisted trousers and black silk shirt emphasized her slim, graceful frame. A couple of combs anchored her whiskey-brown hair behind her ears, framing mysterious, unreadable green eyes. She watched him in a way that warned him she saw things other people never noticed. They were the eyes of a woman who viewed the world from a different dimension.

The smile she had given him when she had answered the door, polite and professional though it was, had sent a thrill of delight across his senses. Now he was aware of a deep, prowling curiosity; a need to learn more about Vivian Brazier.

“I don’t know this Luther Pell,” Vivian said.

Rex leaned forward far enough to put his head in the vicinity of Vivian’s right hand. She glanced down at him, frowning a little. Then she reluctantly gave him a couple of pats. Rex grinned a wolfish grin and inched a little closer to Vivian.

“If it makes you feel any better, I’ve never met Pell, either,” Nick said. He paused and then decided there was no point keeping the truth from her. “He owns a nightclub in Burning Cove. There are rumors that he’s got mob connections.”

“That’s not exactly a resounding testimonial.”

“I know. But my uncle says Pell also has connections with the FBI and with a certain clandestine government agency. Evidently Pell used to run an intelligence operation during the Great War. All I can tell you is that Uncle Pete trusts him, and that’s enough for me to take this threat seriously.”

“Well, it’s not nearly enough for me to believe what you’re saying.”

“You’ve got every reason to be cautious,” he said. “But if you will call a homicide detective named Archer at the Adelina Beach police station, he will vouch for me.”

“Detective Archer knows you?” Vivian asked warily.

“No, but he knows Luther Pell. They both served in the War. Why don’t you go inside, Miss Brazier, and make the call? Lock your door. I’ll wait out here until you’re satisfied that I’m not dangerous.”

Vivian eyed him with a considering look. “Does this have some­thing to do with the Dagger Killer?”

He had already figured out that she was a very smart woman, he reminded himself.

“That,” he said, “is a very interesting question. What makes you ask?”

“It’s not as if I’ve got a long history of people trying to kill me. My only experience in that regard occurred about three weeks ago. Now here you are on my front step telling me that someone wants me dead. It strikes me that if there is no connection to the Dagger Killer, we’re discussing an amazing coincidence.”

He nodded, pleased that her reasoning paralleled his. “Strikes me that way, too. But I don’t know the answer yet. Until I do, we should not leap to conclusions. Make the phone call, Miss Brazier. Then I’ll tell you what I do know.”

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Vivian Brazier’s passion is photography, and she hopes to become a respected and successful art photographer.  Until then, she has to pay the bills by taking news photos at crime scenes, then hustling to sell them to a newspaper before her competitors.  Vivian comes from a wealthy family, but her father stopped supporting her financially when she refused to marry the respectable man of their choosing.  And there’s also the matter of that other scandal, the shocking affair that ended in a very nasty, public scene.

Nick Sundridge is a private detective.  He also has a gift, or, perhaps it’s a curse, where he goes into a trance and has the ability to see a murder scene.  He uses this gift to try to prevent future murders, but the fever dreams, nightmares, and trances have played havoc with his love life.  Women seem to find that all a bit off-putting.

Nick shows up at Vivian’s door, telling her that he’s there to protect her, as a hit has been ordered on her.  Eventually, he convinces her that he’s on the level, and she is truly in danger.  Their path to finding the answers as to who wants Vivian dead leads them to Burning Cove, a playground for the rich and famous, where they pose as a honeymooning couple.

There are twists and turns in the plot, and just when you think it’s all over, another curve is thrown at you.  This fast paced book holds your attention as Vivian and Nick solve the mystery while falling in love.  CLOSE UP takes place in California after the Great Depression, and Vivian is a very modern woman for that time.  She is intelligent and career oriented, and unafraid to let everyone see her true self, and accept her or reject her as they will.  She is also woman enough to accept genuine love when it comes calling.  Nick was smitten with Vivian from the moment he first saw her.  Though he’d been badly hurt and rejected before, he’s willing to risk his heart for a chance at a future with Vivian.  I love how both characters are so accepting of each other, especially the things that they feel most insecure about.  I also appreciate how Nick encouraged and supported Vivian’s career, while never being derogatory about her past.  In turn, she was not put off by his “curse.”  CLOSE UP is an engaging read, a whirlwind of mystery and romance, which takes the reader on an entertaining journey through a glamorous, long gone era.    ~Rose

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