Title: Nowhere to Run (Stephanie Carovella #1)
Author: Nina D’Angelo
Rating: 4 out of 5
Description: A dominatrix is murdered; her body displayed in a show of dominance. An actress is found dead beneath the Hollywood sign. There’s a murderer roaming the streets of Los Angeles and he’s having far too much fun to stop.
Stephanie Carovella is a woman of fire and ice. She left her career, her friends and her home town of LA but she couldn’t outrun the demons of her past. When she is lured back by the death of her best friend she enters a world where no one’s safe.
Can Stephanie find her friend’s killer or will she discover that she has nowhere to run?
Ms. D’Angelo certainly grabbed my attention from the first few sentences:
Angeline closed her eyes, her breathing shaky. With tears sliding down her cheeks, she slowly counted to ten. She clutched the kitchen knife in her hands, the handle slippery with her own blood.
Let’s face it, readers often skip over prologues. We want the story, the meat and potatoes, what we paid for. However, the opening lines of Nowhere to Run, prove to be more than just additional backstory that the writer did not know how to incorporate into the main story. I was instantly immersed into a world of fear and panic. I was Angeline in the closet, waiting for her murderer to arrive.
The story kept a quick pace throughout, switching from the thoughts from the main characters, Stephanie Carovella and her friends, to the deviant, dark thoughts of the killer. The ability to know what the killer is thinking without finding out who it is until the very end increased the suspense. I was able to know that he was intently watching the characters and plotting his next move, however, I couldn’t figure out who he was. There were secret wishes that he’d walk in from of a mirror and describe himself, but that never happened. I may have taken more notes to figure out the identity of the murderer in this novel than I have with any other book I’ve read. I was on a mission to find out who it was and I’m certain you will too.
Nowhere to Run is a mix Law and Order, CSI (name that city), and Cold Case with a dash of prime time soap opera. There is always room for juicy stuff, right? The title character, Stephanie, is described by other characters in the novel as a man eater. This was well established for the reader with the fact that pretty much every male character in the book at one time or another wanted her, had her, or had to concentrate on not finding her attractive. I wish I could find that same attraction for her. While I found her clever, there was a great period while reading that I wondered when she was going to try to find the person who was responsible for the deaths of her loved ones. Stephanie was either busy getting it on with one of the male characters or we’d be made aware of a time when the getting on was being done. I did ask myself whether or not I was being fair to Stephanie. It seems that in real life, as in books, if a male character can have sex with multiple people, he’s a casanova, but when women do it, they are whores. My biggest concern was with whom and when Stephanie was swapping bodily fluids with other characters. I shook my head at her and them on more than one occasion.
As far as the characters as a whole, I found it hard to attach myself to one to and root for them. This may have been because of one of two things: everyone was a suspect until I could find clues to eliminate them or there were just so many. Honestly, I think it was a bit of both. While it’s only natural to think the worst of every character who may be the potential killer so I did not get emotionally attached to a particular one, there were a plethora of characters to keep track of. When three of the male characters have names that all start with “J”, I start needing flow charts to remember who they are. There were no physical attributes really to distinguish Jase, Jesse, or Jake (who I call “The J Crew”) from one another. Members of The J Crew are devilishly handsome and Southern. Not one of them has a limp, lisp, is stout, or is extremely tall. When they were all in the same room together with dialogue, my goodness it was a brain workout.
A few other things got in the way of my ability to give this story a 5 out of 5 rating. Some of the dialogue felt unnatural at times. People don’t usually say the name of the person they are talking to when speaking unless they are doing it for emphasis or to grab that person’s attention. This happened on more than a few occasions and it seemed as if it glared at me each time it was done. This may be a consequence of The J Crew confusion. Additionally, although the story was set the U.S., non American vernacular was used to describe things. For example, it took me forever to figure out that a kitchen bench was a kitchen counter. Finally, some of the actions of the characters had me scratching my head at times. Don’t get me wrong, all people in real life have flaws and these characters are flawed. (I wish there was a way to accurately write how drawn out you should be reading “flawed” in your head.) Death makes people do curious things especially when they are dealing with tragic, unexpected deaths. Pile on the fact that the multiple deaths are occurring to those you love and there’s no telling what you will do to cope. However, I’m still working out why some things were done. Some of the motives were explained later in parts of the novel, but others, not so much. These few things took me out of the story that at times had me wanting to read, even keeping my Kindle on so that I could read at stop lights.
Overall, the concept, storyline, and originality of Nowhere to Run kept me intrigued and guessing to identify the murderer in the novel. It’s a page turning, nail biter that has just the right amount of plot twists to keep you coming up with new suspects every time you’re proven wrong. Ms. D’Angelo did leave me wanting to know more about what was going to happen next to certain characters by the epic epilogue (See, kids? Epilogues can be epic if you write them like Ms. D’Angelo!). Hopefully, the unanswered questions that I had concerning character motives will be answered in Nowhere to Hide which I intend to read.
I’d really love to discuss who you thought the killer was. Read it and let’s chat, okay?
Note: I was given a free copy of Nowhere to Run for an honest review. I can’t get any more honest than what I’ve written.