This is the second book in the Mallory Petersen series, but Brayton did a good job of making it work as a stand alone novel. He did enough recapping of the first book to let readers know what important events happened in the first book and how they affected Mallory without spending too much time on it.
The mystery this book centers on was well developed and kept me interested throughout. The combination of Mallory's PI skills and martial arts abilities added a new layer to the basic PI novel. I enjoyed Mallory as a character. She put on her best tough girl persona when she needed it, but Mallory also had deep emotional wounds and strong feelings about the people in her life. She was a well balanced character that readers will be able to connect with.
The supporting characters were also a good addition to the book. Her landlord and his problems with his daughter, Elena, was a side plot that provided distraction from the intensity of the main storyline when it was needed. I enjoyed the search for Elena because it gave Mallory opportunity to show a softer side. I didn't particularly care for the other side cases Mallory worked on as the seemed to work only as filler and had no connection to the main story or Mallory in particular. I also didn't find the RSVP cards to be all that engaging. I think Brayton gave away the nature of the cards too early, which lessened my interest.
Another aspect I had a hard time with was the switching from Then to Now. I found the back and forth switching between time periods to be largely distracting. I understood that Brayton wanted to use this style to show how the story impacted Mallory and how she dealt with it, but I felt it could have been done differently with more effect. This however, is largely a personal preference and other readers may have no problems with the style at all.
Overall, this was an entertaining story, one I think many PI/mystery readers will enjoy. It also has potential to draw in readers from other genres thanks to the martial arts aspects, dramatic elements, and complex relationships.
Alpha is available now from Amazon.
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