Wednesday, March 9, 2016

FBI: Huston #3

Published October 1st 2015
 by Tyndale House Publishers  
5 Stars


Two murders have rocked the city of Houston. Are they the work of a serial killer, or is a copycat trying to get away with murder?

That is the question facing Special Agent Bethany Sanchez, who is eager for her new assignment in violent crimes but anxious about meeting her new partner. Special Agent Thatcher Graves once arrested her brother, and he has a reputation for being a maverick. Plus, their investigative styles couldn’t be more opposite: he operates on instinct, while she goes by the book.

When hot leads soon fizzle out, their differences threaten to leave them deadlocked. But an attempt on their lives turns up the heat and brings them closer together, and a third victim might yield the clue that will help them zero in on a killer. This could be the case of their careers . . . if they can survive long enough to solve it.

Listen to DiAnn Mills talk about her new release:


7:15 A.M. MONDAY
FBI Special Agent Bethany Sanchez swung open the door of her truck with the same jitters she had her first day at Quantico. On this gray morning, she was beginning a violent crime assignment and would meet her new partner, Special Agent Thatcher Graves,the man who’d sent her brother to jail. Bethany caught her breath and took in the unfamiliar surroundings. The residential area was flooded with Houston police
officers and unmarked cars, part of a task force between HPD and the FBI.
 Alicia Javon had been murdered here late yesterday afternoon, leaving behind
 a husband and two daughters. The homes rose like monuments in this older,
 exclusive neighborhood, a mirror of refinement and dollar signs. The
Javons’ two-story brick with classic black shutters was no exception. Not a
 dog or cat in sight. In her parents’ neighborhood, dogs ran loose and usually in packs, whether the four-legged or two-legged type. Here, a pair of squirrels scampered up an oak. The bushes and hedges received regular manicures. Freshly mowed yard. The three-car garage was the size of her apartment.
Contrast the tranquility with a woman who’d been shot, and it
was Bethany’s job to help bring down the killer.

She arched her shoulders and walked to the front door, wishing her first day in violent crime could have been less stressful. She’d been up most of the night giving herself a pep talk about working with Thatcher Graves despite their history. A little confidence on her end would boost her ego. She looked like a professional. Wore
a black pantsuit and a white blouse. Hair secured at the nape. No rings. No
 bracelets. Just tiny gold balls in her earlobes, a small gold cross necklace,
 and a keen sense of determination that had never failed her. After greeting two police officers and displaying her credentials, she entered the home, and another officer directed her toward a hum of activity to the right. She passed through a
 living area, where an upright bass, grand piano, and harp filled a third of the
space. Beyond there she’d find Special Agent Thatcher Graves. Her gaze pulled ahead. She wanted the partnership to work so badly that her blood pressure flared at the thought of it. She moved through the room to the kitchen. Thatcher bent behind
the crime scene tape, where the body had been found. He glanced up, his
earth-colored eyes stormy. She extended her hand and hoped he didn’t observe the trembling. “Good morning, I’m Bethany Sanchez.” He stood and towered over her, but most men did over her small frame. “My new partner. The gal from the civil rights division who solved a cold hate crime in the Hispanic community.
And was influential in bringing peace to an Asian business district where a prostitution ring worked the streets. Welcome to violent crime.” He gripped her hand, not too firm and not an ounce of wimp. “We’ve met before.”
She offered a slight smile while her stomach rolled. “Yes, we have.”
“I think it was the Labor Day picnic. Certainly not what the victim had here.”
Had he forgotten Papá’s threat at the courthouse, or did he expect her to
 elaborate? “I understand there’s a link between this murder and a previous 
one, and that’s why the FBI’s been called in.” “Right. Three weeks ago, Ruth Caswell, an elderly woman in the River Oaks area, was murdered. She was under hospice care but otherwise lived alone. Shot with a 9mm to the forehead,
hollow-point bullet, and the killer left a plastic scorpion on her body. At
 that time, HPD requested our help, due to the unusual circumstances. Alicia
 Javon’s murder appears to be identical, but it’ll take weeks before we learn if the two women were killed with the same weapon.” “Didn’t realize the lab was so far behind. Fingerprints?” “Too soon to have the report. We’ll see about the DNA.”
“Anything to go on?” “Looks like a serial killing.”
“But the husband is a viable suspect. Looks to me like a domestic squabble that 
went bad.” He lifted a brow. “I’ve been at this longer than you have. The
family will arrive in the next thirty minutes for an interview. They spent the night
 at a hotel.” “Can’t blame them.” She glanced around the kitchen. A stockpot
 rested on the stove, a box of pasta beside it. A dinner that never happened. “I wouldn’t want to stay here either. What else do you have?”
He grabbed a large Starbucks cup from the kitchen counter
and toasted her. The man wore a muscular build like an Italian suit. “You fit
 your MO.” She lifted a brow. “What do you mean?”“Nononsense. Gets
 the job done. Analytical. Outstanding record—”
“Whoa. You’re armed, and all I have is office chatter and media headlines.”
He sipped the coffee. “I’m sure it’s all true.”
Egotistical, but with a sense of humor. She stared into his chiseled face.
 “I hope not or I’m doomed.”
“Doubt it, General Sanchez. Your reputation is outstanding.”She drew in a
 breath. The ring of his tone pierced her like a dull knife. “Guess I won’t call 
you a general again.” The muscles in his jaw tightened. “Okay, back to the 
case. The killer is most likely a psychopath.” “We need more information to
 make that determination, a suspect whose behavior we can psychologically 
examine to determine if he’s hearing voices and the like.” “Not every
 psychopath is a killer,  but serial killers are psychopaths.” She’d mull his explanation when she had time to think about it. “Has the blood spatter been analyzed?”“Yes. Nothing additional for us to follow up on there. I’ve
been here since five thirty poring over the reports, trying to find a motive for
 both murders. We have two victims killed with the same type of weapon and identical scorpions left on each body. I sent a copy of the reports to you about 
an hour ago.” “Hold on a moment while I retrieve them.” She eased her
shoulder bag to the floor and snatched her phone, berating herself for not 
checking it sooner. She scrolled through the various reports. There it was. “Go ahead. I’m ready.”“Alicia Javon was a forty-five-year-old wife and mother.
 She held a vice president position at Danford Accounting. Two daughters
are enrolled at Rice University majoring in music. Her husband is currently unemployed and on disability due to a spinal injury sustained in an auto accident.
 He told the police his wife’s Bible and several pieces of her jewelry are missing. All heirlooms from her family. HPD noted a sizable inheritance from her family’s estate.” Bethany read the list of diamonds, rubies, and sapphires stolen.
Motive? “The husband claims the jewelry is insured. Has HPD checked the pawnshops?” “Yes, and they will continue,” Thatcher said. “No signs of
forced entry.” “She may have known her killer or opened the door without
a visual check. Where was her husband? Do her daughters live at
home?” “The girls were out with their father. Walked in and discovered
the body,” he said. “It’s in the report. I labeled it Scorpion.” Ouch. Could this get much worse? “Hey, I’m messing with you. Don’t worry about it.”
She smiled but didn’t feel it. “I noted Mrs. Javon’s arm was in a cast. Worth
 looking into.” “I agree. Have a few thoughts about the injury.”
“Theory or fact?” Immediately she regretted her question. Arguing fact and logic solved nothing. “That was inappropriate. I know you operate on instinct, and you’re quite successful.” “But you have no respect for my methods, right?”
She reddened. “I’d like to think our partnership could work well organically.”
He took another sip of coffee. “Well said. We could fail or become a dynamic team. When we’re finished here, let’s head back to the office and discuss the case.”
A police officer stepped into the kitchen. “The family has arrived.”
“They’re early.” Thatcher glanced out the kitchen window to a patio and pool
 area, his face stoic. “Tell them Special Agent Sanchez and I will talk to them 
in a few minutes. We’re stepping outside for privacy.”

 My Thoughts:

DiAnn Mills brings us the 3rd installment in the FBI Huston series.  Even though this book is part of a series this book would be still considered a stand alone novel.  There are secondary characters well integrated in the story that were the primary characters in the previous books in the series and of course the setting is the same which is Huston, Texas.  
This is a fast paced edge of your seat suspense interlaced with a romance.  
This story will quickly pull you in with the introduction of Bethany Sanchez.  She has just moved from the civil rights division to violent crimes after solving a cold case hate crime.  She is called to the scene of a murder her first day on the job because there's a link to the previous murder of Ruth Caswell.  The link is a plastic scorpion which is placed on the victim's chest.  The only problem is, Alicia Javon, has a history of domestic violence and it's looking like her husband is maybe their prime suspect for this murder.  
Bethany is a complex character with her own problems.  She grew up in a Hispanic neighborhood where killing is almost a right of passage for most.  She has agreed to volunteer at Noah's Loft which is basically a safe house that helps the residents with becoming productive members of society after some form of abuse has taken place.  Most residents, if not all, are female with children.  At present she is estranged from her family after arresting and testifying against her brother, Lucas, which sent him to prison. This was not Lucas's first incarceration, but his second.  She has been assigned a partner and wouldn't you know it, he's the very one who arrested Lucas first.  Lucas has recently been released from prison and he's looking for revenge and retribution from Bethany.    
Special Agent Thatcher Graves has been assigned a new partner.  The first thing he notices is that she is quick to jump to assumptions about a crime and her lack of trust.  Two things as the senior agent in charge he would have to change and quickly if this partnership was to work.  As important factors in the puzzle start to come to light Bethany decides full disclosure with Thatcher about Lucas and the threats he's making about her.  Is there a link to the murders and Lucas? This case is turning into a complication neither expected and suspect there's a serial killer out there looking for the next victim.
I really enjoyed this fast paced plot.  It grabs you and keeps you turning the pages. It's full of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the end of the story.  The characters are complex with faults of their own, but so easy to love. There's just enough romantic tension that keeps a romance probable once the case is solved.  
I always look for a message of faith in every book I read.  The message I received was one of remembering that God loves us and will be there for us regardless of the circumstances.  We must remember that no matter what struggles you are facing today there is always another chapter to your story.  
This is a book I would recommend to anyone who enjoys suspense. 
* I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for a honest review without bias or outside influence.  All opinions or thoughts are my own.  

Available for Purchase:



Meet the Author:

DiAnn Mills - Author 

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.
DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

Connect Online:



No comments:

Post a Comment