Review: The Kill Box by Nichole Christoff

Review: The Kill Box by Nichole ChristoffThe Kill Box (Jamie Sinclair, #3) by Nichole Christoff
Formats available: ebook
Series: Jamie Sinclair #3
Pages: 283
Published by Alibi on October 20th 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKobo

Hardworking Jamie Sinclair can’t wait for the weekend. She plans to be off the clock and on the road to wine country with handsome military police officer Adam Barrett. But when a strung-out soldier takes an innocent woman hostage and forces his way into Jamie’s bedroom, everything changes. Jamie’s never seen the soldier before. But he’s no stranger to Barrett—and with one word he persuades Barrett to pack a duffel and leave Jamie in the lurch.

Jamie cannot fathom why Barrett would abandon her without explanation. But as the consequences of an unsolved crime threaten to catch up with him, a late-night phone call sends Jamie racing to Barrett’s hometown in upstate New York. In a tinderbox of shattered trust and long-buried secrets, Jamie must fight to uncover the truth about what really occurred one terrible night twenty years ago. And the secrets she discovers deep in Barrett’s past not only threaten their future together—they just might get her killed.

My Review:

This one kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way. Now that I’ve finished, the feel of the book reminds me of a small-town romance, if it were written by a horror writer. It’s not that there is horror per se, but that everything about small town stories and small town romances has been twisted to minus 11. Something like that.

kill list by nichole christoffThis is the third story in the Jamie Sinclair series. While it probably helps a bit with background if you’ve read the first two, The Kill List and The Kill Shot, it isn’t strictly necessary. The Kill Box takes place in a completely different setting and under totally different circumstances than the first two books. In Jamie’s head space we see enough of her background to know where she’s coming from and why she acts the way she does.

We don’t see in Adam Barrett’s headspace at all, but then, neither does Jamie. This is her story and her perspective on events. And since she is pretty much a fish out of water during this story, we get introduced to all the players the same way that she does.

Jamie is a private investigator and security specialist, so when a man breaks into her condo holding her housekeeper at gunpoint, she knows exactly how to get the situation under control. But the results completely throw her.

Army MP Lieutenant Colonel Adam Barrett, who has been recovering from a multiply broken leg in her DC condo, leaves with the assailant. While still wearing a cast on one leg from toes to crotch. The crazy dude is one of Adam’s high school pals, and his message to Adam is that one of their best friends is in big trouble back home.

So Adam hobbles off, leaving Jamie emotionally wounded and terribly confused. Also frustrated as hell, since Adam’s buddy interrupted what was supposed to have been their long-awaited first night together.

kill shot by nicole christoffJamie and Adam have had really lousy luck in their attempts at a relationship. They met while she was investigating his commanding officer, who also happened to be her ex (The Kill List) and he broke his leg protecting her after her Father-the-Senator sent them both to Europe on a secret mission where Senator-Daddy needed plausible deniability (The Kill Shot).

Their relationship should be over. And it nearly is at multiple points in this story. But when Jamie gets a call from Adam’s grandmother, asking Jamie to come to Adam’s hometown of Fallowfield, NY and get him out of jail, Jamie jumps into her car and takes off for upstate New York apple country.

Adam doesn’t want Jamie’s help. He doesn’t even want Jamie’s presence, to the point where he breaks up with her rather than letting her any further into the mess that is Adam’s home town. But his grandmother, Miranda, wants Jamie to stay and get to the bottom of that mess. Jamie is all too willing to help Adam in spite of himself. And she can’t resist the possibility of solving a mystery.

Twenty years ago, a 14-year-old girl was raped and murdered. Everyone in town believes that then-18-year-old Adam Barrett committed the crime but was never punished. Jamie is sure that the murderer is still out there, and that she can fix all of Adam’s problems if she can just figure out who that murderer really is.

She doesn’t count on a new string of murders, a new witch hunt for Adam, and someone who has a deadly desire to add Jamie to his list of victims. Or that her hunt for a killer will run smack into an undercover DEA investigation of small town drug trafficking, with Fallowfield at its center.

So many big crimes, all in the same little place. Is it too much of a coincidence to think that they are all connected?

Escape Rating A-: Some ARCs are better than other. I mean in the sense of typos and other stray oddities. This ARC had more of those types of problems than the usual. However, the story was so riveting that I was able to completely ignore the typos and be completely immersed in the story. I couldn’t put this down and I was reading at any moment possible just to find out what happened.

This is a story where the small town hides a multitude of secrets. And where a multitude of seemingly minor misdeeds gets covered up because no one wants to rock the boat with their neighbors. Everyone’s ties to everyone else run deep.

That’s the problem at the heart of this case, both the long ago death and the current string of murders. Everyone involved grew up together, went to high school together, and now forms the backbone of the town together. And when Adam returns to Fallowfield, he seems to slip right back into his old patterns from way back when, and they are not all good ones.

But because Adam used to be so close to everyone else, he can’t see their problems or the way that they have changed. And he can’t take off the blinders that prevent him from seeing that one or more of his friends is not completely on the up and up.

Jamie’s job is to recognize patterns. And she’s an outsider. She starts to put the pieces together, and someone wants to make sure that she leaves or dies before she completes her investigation.

And Adam is an idiot. I say this in the best alpha hero tradition. Adam doesn’t want Jamie involved in his old shit, he feels horribly guilty about things that happened long ago, even though he isn’t responsible, and her wants her far away so that she won’t think less of him. He falls into that infuriating tradition of pushing her away for her own good, without asking her what she wants. I’ll admit that this isn’t my favorite trope.

But in spite of, and admittedly sometimes because of, Adam’s continuing to push Jamie away, I could help but be caught up in Jamie’s desperate search to figure out whodunnit way back when, and who was continuing to do it, and why they were doing it, right now.

And when she finally puts the pieces together, the result is downright explosive.