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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lis Wiehl: Lethal Beauty

By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy:
Mia Quinn discovers that a series of seemingly unrelated murders are linked. How far up are the strings being pulled—and what happens when one of her own is at risk?
The murder Mia is prosecuting seems like an open and shut case—until the accused claims he was the real victim and that the dead girl attacked him first. The tabloids dub her a "lethal beauty." Still, a conviction seems imminent. Then a key witness goes missing. Just when it looks like the killer could walk free; the dead woman’s mother takes matters into her own hands.
Meanwhile, Charlie Carlson, a Seattle homicide detective, is investigating the murder of a man whose body washed up on the beach of Puget Sound, but he's got little to go on. He has no dental work, fingerprints aren't on file, and he doesn't match any missing person reports. Then a church pianist is senselessly gunned down before horrified parishioners.
All three cases seem unrelated—but are they? Together, Mia and Charlie race to find the answer before another crime hits too close to home.
My Review:

I have read the previous two books in the Mia Quinn series and couldn’t wait to dive into Lethal Beauty. I love the character of Mia Quinn and couldn’t wait to watch her use her investigative skills to solve another murder or as in the case of Lethal Beauty, three different mysteries that might be tied together.

Wiehl’s writing is direct and very easy to follow along. I got lost in the storyline created by Wiehl in the city of Seattle. The story had a good balance between prose and dialogue. As a reader, we weren’t always in the head of the characters; we heard Mia and Charlie discuss important issues through dialogue. One of Wiehl’s strong points with her writing is allowing the reader to understand the world and jargon of a Prosecuting Criminal Lawyer without feeling overwhelmed. I believed every term that came out of Mia’s mouth, but I didn’t have to go question my lawyer friend to define things for me. It was smooth transition and kept the story flowing. Another strength is understanding the personal struggles of Mia by following her train of thoughts, fears, and struggles. By doing this, Wiehl made it easy to follow Mia and understand her motivations.

As with the previous books, Wiehl returns to the familiar characters we love. We see Gabe, the fifteen year old, who is trying to fit in on the football team while wanting his mother not to treat him like a child all the time. We don’t see much of Brooke, the four year old, since she is so little; I think Wiehl shelters her from all the struggles going on in Mia and Gabe’s personal life. But my favorite character is none other than the heroine, Mia. She is a recently single mother who struggles with having to return to work and the mountains of debt her deceased husband left her. Most readers can empathize with Mia's fight between choosing to focus all her attention on work or the family at home. Wiehl does a good job at making Mia such a realistic character. I hope to see more stories involving her because I want to see her succeed with her family and in her work.

The conflict in the story was three-fold: external, internal, and romantic. Mia struggles with the internal because her deceased husband left a trail of credit card debts, car leases, and more secrets that Mia has to deal with now that he is gone. Plus, she has to deal with how to raise her defiant son, Gabe, who gets into danger in all three books. Externally, Mia has to solve the mystery from her workload. Who killed the massage worker? Was it the guy who just got off? How will she deal with those answers and try to maintain her home life? The tension begins in the first chapter and doesn’t let go until the story’s completion. Romantically, Charlie and Eli, a fellow professor at the nearby university, both want to pursue something with her, but Mia has way too much on her plate to commit to another relationship right away. I love how Wiehl enfolds all three areas of tension into a wonderfully woven tapestry of crime.

Since this story deals with the issue of human trafficking, the story should be approached cautiously for younger readers. Mature readers might even cringe as Wiehl describes the torture that some of the Chinese members of the plot have to endure as they disobey their owners. Wiehl does a good job at allowing the readers to see the underbelly of this horrible crime, which is more common than we want to allow ourselves to believe. The idea of human trafficking in America made me wonder about the employees of my local Chinese buffet.

Overall, like returning to a familiar friend’s house, Lis Wiehl invites her readers to return to the family dynamics of Mia Quinn, the lawyer, while grabbing her readers’ attention and not letting go until the end of the story. She created realistic characters, a well-crafted, relevant mystery to today’s world, with a sprinkling of romance. Readers will be engrossed in the plot, but smile at the uplifting tale of second chances and loving yourself.

I received a complimentary copy of Lethal Beauty by Lis Wiehl from Thomas Nelson through Netgalley and the opinions stated are my own.
Lis Wiehl
From "About Lis" on her personal website

How to Connect with Lis Wiehl:

Where to purchase Lis Wiehl’s books:
Barnes and Nobles
Wherever Books are sold

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