The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell

The Extraordinary Life of Sam HellThe Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni
Published by Lake Union Publishing on April 24th 2018
Pages: 448
ISBN: 1503949001
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“We realize it is in those quiet moments that each of us has the ability to make our life extraordinary.”

Sam was born with ocular albinism which resulted in him having red pupils. While many of his peers were freaked out by this and called him “devil boy”, his Mother declared it’s “God’s will” and fought for Sam to be able to attend Catholic school. Sam suffered from the ignorance of others (including a nun at the school) and constant bullying. He then found friendship with Ernie, the only African-American in his class and Mickie, a girl who proved to be tougher than any of the boys in their class. The three of then teach each other acceptance, friendship, loyalty, and what it means to be supportive of someone.

This book is told through alternating timelines. We see Sam as an adult and as a child. We learn about his life, his loves, his loses, his family, his friends, his dreams, his faith and his chosen career path. My favorite character in this book is his Mother with her unwavering devotion and belief that Sam is destined to lead and extraordinary life. I love how she has quiet strength and is not afraid to advocate for her son.

Another solid book by Dugoni! This is a well written account of one man’s life. I thought the ending was a little much. I think Dugoni is accustomed to writing his Tracy Crosswhite series and leaving readers waiting for the next book, so in this book, perhaps he tried a little too hard to tie everything up.

I love that this book focused on accepting the difference in others, faith and the true meaning of friendship.

*Do read the acknowledgements section!!! That is a nice plus, we learn about Dugoni’s family and the story/inspiration behind this book.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


A Steep Price

A Steep PriceA Steep Price (Tracy Crosswhite, #6) by Robert Dugoni
on January 1st 1970
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Tracy Crosswhite is pregnant and finishing up her testimony in court when she is called in to consult on a missing persons case by Detective Katie Pryor. She agrees with her friend that this case does not feel right. The missing young woman, Kavita Mukherjee, is not the typical missing person. Kavita is attending medical school and is estranged from her family due to not wanting an arranged marriage. When her body is found, her case becomes a murder investigation.

Kavita’s murder is not the only issue Tracy is dealing with in this book. She has not yet disclosed her pregnancy at work and she is not happy with the woman, Detective Andrea Gonzalez, who has joined their team and has made herself a little too comfortable using Tracey’s desk and computer.

Plus, Tracy’s colleague, Vic Fazzio is dealing with her concern over his wife’s recent diagnosis and his investigation into the murder of a local activist. His investigation gets him in deep and on the wrong side of a local gang. He gets paired with Detective Gonzalez one day and when there is a shooting they have differing accounts of the situation.

There are two story-lines happening in this book, but I did not find that either took away from the other. Not all the detectives could work the same case, so it makes sense that they would be working on separate cases. I enjoyed both story-lines and was invested in learning what the resolution would be for both. This book is a great addition to the Tracy Crosswhite series. I believe that it works well as a standalone but highly encourage those who have not read this series to go back to the beginning as the Author has created a cast of interesting characters and you will see character development over the course of the series.

This is a well written police procedural that does not disappoint. In this book the Author takes on arranged marriages, pregnancy, the decision to return to work after birth, escorts, gangs, secrets, and medical issues to name a few.

This book proved to be a fast read for me. Again, this book was well written, captivating and left me wanting to read more. I find Dugoini’s books to be intelligent, believable and captivating. His story-lines are interesting and deal with real issues. Tracy Crosswhite is a strong female character with a strong work ethic and good head of her shoulders.

Thank you to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Close to Home

Close to HomeClose to Home (Tracy Crosswhite, #5) by Robert Dugoni
on January 1st 1970
Pages: 382
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I had never heard of Robert Dugoni until I received an Arc of his book “The Trapped Girl”. I loved that book, btw and thought to myself, “why have I not heard of this Author before?” Needless to say, when I saw there was another ARC out in the same series, I just had to read it! One of the things I enjoy most about his writing is that he doesn’t spoon feed the reader anything. He lays out his story in an intelligent fashion, there will be plot twists and reveals and all seem plausible and believable. He is a master at mixing police procedural, character development, and suspense into his work. I also like his main character, Tracy Crosswhite. She is a likable, tough, sympathetic and interesting woman. She is dealing with personal issues in this book but does not let her personal struggles get in the way or her job.

While investigating the hit and run death of a young boy, Tracy determines that an active duty navy serviceman is the prime suspect. This issue becomes a military one but when damning evidence goes missing, he is released and Tracy can’t let the boys death go on punished.

Meanwhile Del Castigliano is still coping with the death of his niece from a Heroin overdose. He and his partner are on the hunt to find those responsible for selling his niece the heroin the night she overdosed. He finds out that she is not the only one who has died after using the drug.

These two story lines seem unrelated but they seamlessly come together as revelations are made in both cases. I believe the beauty of this book is how the Author brings the two story lines together. I think there is a fine line an Author has to tread when this is done to make the story flow and seem believable. Dugoni pulls this off while at the same time building the suspense. I love trying to figure out what is going on and what is going to be the conclusion when I read suspense/mysteries. This book did keep me guessing and I did have some theories. Sometimes I am right, sometimes I am wrong. In this case, I was wrong.

There are a lot of characters in this book but no so much that they get distracting or weigh down the plot. Now, I need to go back and read the other books in this series that I have missed while I anxiously wait for the next book in this series to come out. The pacing was spot on. I loved that there were no dull moments in this book. I was sucked in from page one.

I received a copy of this book from Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for an honest review.


The Trapped Girl

The Trapped GirlThe Trapped Girl (Tracy Crosswhite #4) by Robert Dugoni
on January 1st 1970
Pages: 378
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An woman’s body is found inside a submerged crab pot in the icy waters of Puget Sound. Detective Tracy Crosswhite of the Violent Crimes Section of the Seattle Police Department is called to the scene to investigate. When trying to determine the identity of her victim, she learns that the victim has gone to great lengths to conceal her identity. Through the course of her investigation, Tracey begins to believe that her Jane Doe may be a woman who disappeared months earlier while hiking with her husband. Could these two cases be related?

During the course of Tracy’s investigation, the reader also gets to see Tracy as a person and we learn that she had a sister whose murder has gone unsolved. I should point out that this is the fourth book in the Tracy Crosswhite series but read as a stand alone novel for me. Some readers may already know about Tracy’s past but as a first time being introduced to Tracey, it served to show why she was so driven to solve this woman’s murder case and what personal demons she may be carrying around with her.

We also get to meet Andrea Strickland. The woman who went missing while hiking with her husband. She works as an insurance agent at day and prefers to be a homebody at night. Andrea’s story is told mainly though her journal entries. There we meet her husband, Graham who is a fast talking attorney who believes image is everything. He wants to “get rich quick” and has no problems breaking the rules to do it. Andrea and Graham have a rocky relationship and they went hiking at a time when their relationship was at a low point. It is understandable that the police would want to look into him as a suspect. He is an unsavory character and I loved reading what other characters thought of him (suit looking on size too small, his mannerisms, etc).

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved how the story unfolded. Both women’s stories are told so brilliantly together. Reading Tracy’s investigation and interviews with witness sprinkled with journal entries really kicked this book into high gear. I think this book has a little bit of something for everyone: betrayal, lies, greed, manipulation and secrets. As the investigation continued, it became evident that there was more going on with Andrea and her husband than originally met the eye.

What I really liked was riding along with this investigation. I got to put my detective hat on. I thought I had this case all figured out and then the case did a 180 on me. I LOVE how the Author pulled this off. I love a book with great plot twists and turns that I did not see coming but feel completely believable. There was no pulling a rabbit out of the hat ending her. And speaking of the ending!!!!! What a surprise!

This was my book in the series but will not be my last. I plan on going back and reading the first books in this series. The pacing of this book was great – nothing lagged or dragged on to long. The characters were strong and believable. The writing was good. Will this book be considered a great literary work of art, maybe not but it is an exceptionally told book that never disappointed. I love mysteries and this is one the best ones I have read in a long time. Highly recommend!!!

I received a copy of “The Trapped Girl” from the Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.