Friday, August 25, 2017

Book Review: Gila Monster by Sandy Dengler (Valley of the Sun Mysteries #4)



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery, good characters
Cons: None worth dwelling on
The Bottom Line:
A death by Gila
Monster starts creepy, fun book
I enjoyed again




Deadly Academia

I read to be entertained, as should be obvious by the books I read and review.  However, you can occasionally pick up something even in fiction novels.  For example, it was reading Gila Monster for the first time 20 plus years ago, that I learned that Gila monsters are actually venomous.

Phoenix homicide detectives Joe Rodriguez and Tom Flaherty are called to the Venomous Animals Research Institute lab of Tempe State University.  Dr. Victor Corello, the head of the institute, has been found dead in the middle of the lab, and there’s a Gila monster next to him on the floor.  It might be a case of Corello not handling these animals well, but Joe and Tom don’t think so, especially when they begin to find out just how many enemies their victim had.  Can they narrow the suspects down to find the killer?

If you have a reptile phobia, this book will definitely get to you.  Even rereading the book, I felt my skin crawl a few times and found my heart pounding others.  Fortunately, I was just reading about the experiences; I’m not sure how I would have done having to live them.

With the plethora of suspects, Joe and Tom are kept hopping as they try to figure out exactly what happened.  Between that and some new incidents, this book never drags.  While I didn’t remember who the killer was when I started reading the book, I did figure it out about half way through.  At this point, I couldn’t tell you if it was because it was obvious or because my sub-conscious remembered.  Either way, it is a logical solution, and I was so caught up in the story I didn’t want to put it down.

We are introduced to the suspects in a quick fashion early on, but as the book goes on and they get better developed, it’s easy to remember who they all are.  Joe, Tom, and Gretchen, a lab tech, are really the only characters who return in this book, and I enjoyed getting to see their relationships grow.  I truly love them and am really enjoying spending time with them again.

This mystery was originally written for the Christian market.  No, it doesn’t preach, but that world view permeates the book.  Keep that in mind when you pick it up and you’ll be fine.

I’ve really enjoyed going back and rereading this series with so many more mysteries under my belt than when I originally read them.  Gila Monster is a fun mystery that kept me turning pages, even on a second read.

Read the rest of the Valley of the Sun Mysteries.

This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.

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