Still Life by Dani Pettrey – Book Review

Still Life  by  Dani Pettrey

Published By Bethany House Publishers    January  31, 2017

Genres:  Mystery and Suspense, Christian

Pages:  352

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

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Story Notes

Dani Pettrey brings to chilling light the drama of a crime-scene photographer and the realization of her greatest fear – working on a case involving her friend and her past.

Dani Pettrey’s second book in the Chesapeake Valor series will help to cement her as one of the best new writers featuring the world of criminal investigations. I have always enjoyed reading these types of books but have really come to appreciate authors who think outside the expected and focus on those who are often overlooked at a crime scene – CSU techs, anthropologists, and, in the case of this story, crime scene photographers. I had grown rather attached to Ms. Pettrey’s characters through her first book in the series, Cold Shot, and was glad to see this second book offered for review. Ms. Pettrey brings a unique style to her series, choosing to allow multiple characters beyond the two primaries to have a point of view in the story. This allows readers to better connect with everyone in the story and I, for one, was drawn into the action faster and felt like I was walking alongside them through the story scenes. Ms. Pettrey has adopted an essential element for her writing that I am always glad to see when I read a book – that of making her characters relatable and real by giving them life-like backstories and tragedies that have shaped them into the characters they are now. All of the male characters in the series have grown up as best friends until the murder of Griffin McCray’s sister Jenna threatens to separate them. Add to that the disappearance of Luke and the remaining three friends are struggling to work through blame while also working crime scenes together. Parker Mitchell was in love with Jenna for years and when she was kidnapped, tortured and killed on her way to meet him one night, he takes all the blame on himself. Guilt still burns deep inside and colors his view of love – keeping him from developing deeper relationships with any of the women he has dated in the years since. Parker carries a deep seeded fear that anyone else he might love will be taken from him too. But when he begins to feel attraction to his new crime photographer, Avery Tate, he will have to decide if he can let go of fear enough to fall in love. Avery Tate carries many secrets from her childhood – secrets that she knows she should move past but just cannot seem to let go of yet. Having found forgiveness and acceptance in Christ, she has moved beyond her broken past and become a successful photographer. When her career is derailed by a photograph that exposed a corrupt political official’s crimes, she finds herself blackballed by the photographic community of Baltimore. Hired by Parker Mitchell as a crime photographer was an answer to prayer and she has enjoyed the work and getting to know Parker. But his guilt over Jenna keeps them from exploring a deeper relationship, causing her to seek work elsewhere. However, when Avery find herself in the middle of a missing person’s case involving her former best friend, she calls on Parker, Griffin and the others for help to discover if the incredibly real looking “death” picture of her friend is an actual picture of her demise. What follows is a case so creepy in details and facts that it will leave readers with desire to double check the locks on their doors at night. Ms. Pettrey did an excellent job of keeping the reader engaged not only in the crime solving aspects of the story but the criminal aspects of  it as well by giving short conversations and thoughts of the person(s) committing the crime. She gave just enough clues to keep me thinking I had discovered the culprit but then would throw in a twist that made me realize I was wrong. Add to this the multiple self-seeking characters Ms. Pettrey included and I was thinking “man, I hope all these selfish jerks get what they deserve!” And, thankfully, most of them did. But Ms. Pettrey kept a couple of them out of consequences – to use later on in the series, I’m thinking. Ms. Pettrey also added wonderful elements of faith to her story, showing a journey that would help both Parker and Avery move passed their tragic pasts into a incredible future filled with love and forgiveness. The sub story of Declan and Taylor was a good touch too, setting the scene very well for the next book the the series. I am excited to see where this series will go next and how everything will be worked out between the rest of the friends/investigators. I will most certainly recommend not only this book but the series to my friends and family; this is one they will not want to miss out on. Well done, Dani Pettrey!!

I received this E-book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

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