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The First Cut: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Dianne Emley
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
Kindle Price: $3.79
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

For two minutes she was dead.

The assailant was vicious, the attack brutal–and it left her lifeless . . . until her pulse fluttered and she jolted awake. Now, a year later, detective Nan Vining is still questioning her strength, her safety, even her sanity: Can she ever again be the cop–and mother–she was before? And will her attacker someday return to finish the job, before she can track him down herself?

Shaky but determined, Vining rejoins the Pasadena PD, only to confront a murder case that strikes close to home: A slain policewoman has been discovered beneath the Colorado Street Bridge, her body bruised, her throat slit. Even as Vining struggles to recover her standing within the department, she can’t help but feel profoundly drawn to the murdered officer, Frankie Lynde–and she is deeply troubled by the baffling otherworldly visions that haunt her waking hours. Are these mere fever dreams? Or could they be, as Vining’s daughter insists, messages from beyond the grave?

Digging deeper into Lynde’s past, Vining discovers clues that set her on the twisted trail of a killer as ruthless as he is depraved–a predator whose methods and madness recall those of her own attacker. Amid a rising tide of danger, she pushes herself to bold new limits, desperate to avenge the murder of a fellow police officer . . . and to reclaim the life she lost a year ago.

Packed with suspense and action, this pulse-pounding novel will hold you breathless from the first cut to the last.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A year after surviving a brutal attack, Pasadena, Calif., police officer Nan Vining returns to duty in Emley's sizzling debut, a hard-edged police procedural with a psychic twist. Nan, a 34-year-old single mom who still bears emotional and skin-deep scars, has her mettle tested by her first case back. The gory corpse of young, blonde LAPD vice cop Frankie Lynde, who got "too close to her work," murmurs a cryptic message to Nan at the crime scene. Nan's ability to hear the dead may be connected to her near-death experience or may be a symptom of post-traumatic stress, but it does help crack Frankie's case and eerily provides a clue about Nan's unknown attacker, whom she and her 14-year-old daughter, Emily, dubbed T.B. Mann or "The Bad Man." Readers will cheer as the fast-paced, high-stakes investigation empowers Nan to triumph over a repugnant criminal and her fears. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Advance praise for The First Cut

“The First Cut should immediately establish Dianne Emley in the front ranks of thriller writers . . . A great read.”
–Michael Connelly, author of The Lincoln Lawyer

“Gritty, intense, and hard-edged, The First Cut is first-rate.”
–Tess Gerritsen, author of The Mephisto Club

“Action-packed, with plenty of suspense and enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing long into the night.”
–Lisa Jackson, author of Shiver

“An edge-of-your-seat plot . . . nicely developed characters and genuine suspense elevate this impressive crime debut.”
–Kirkus Reviews

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 601 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 034548617X
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (August 29, 2006)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,651 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Cut is First Rate September 2, 2006
In this keen and well crafted murder mystery, author Dianne Emley leads the reader on a suspenseful journey through the often gritty and dangerous world of police work, while at the same time adeptly exposing the psychological complexity of its main character, Detective Nan Vining. Following a brutal ambush which leaves Vining dead for several minutes, a period of recovery finds the protagonist questioning her resolve as a mother and as a cop. A personal sense of safety for both herself and her daughter is further stripped way by the always present possibility that her attacker, as yet to be apprehended, will come back to complete his handiwork. Detective Vining's first assignment when returning to work finds her juxtaposition to the battered body of an LAPD policewoman, triggering eerie, yet realistic otherworldly visions. Emley superbly portrays the internal struggle experienced by Vining, who wrestles with whether to accept these visions as manifestations of her heightened anxiety as precipitated by the attack, or the real possibility that the dead policewoman, in some form of camaraderie, is indeed speaking to her and helping guide the investigation. Navigating the tension between these two potentialities permits the reader to walk in tandem with Detective Vining. The reader continues to follow Vining through a number of thrilling twists and turns up to the surprise ending. All and all, The First Cut is first rate. Dianne Emley has introduced us readers to not only intriguing characters and a finely developed plot, but has allowed us to share the haunting, yet very real world of Detective Nan Vining. I'm eager to see where Vining takes us next.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The worst monsters live among us." September 24, 2006
Diane Emley, in "The First Cut," introduces thirty-four year old Corporal Nan Vining of the Pasadena Police Department. One year earlier, Nan was left for dead after a man posing as a real estate agent lured her into an empty house and slashed her throat. Ever since that horrendous experience and its traumatic aftermath, Nan has suffered from recurrent panic attacks when she enters unfamiliar homes, and she fears that her desire to resume her career as a detective may be a pipe dream. However, as a divorced single mom with a precocious and loving fourteen-year-old daughter, Emily, Nan needs to make a living, and she is determined to regain her self-confidence as well as the respect of her colleagues.

As soon as Vining reports for duty, Detective Sergeant Kendra Early assigns her to the case of slain off-duty LAPD officer Frankie Lynde. An unknown assailant slit Frankie's throat and then dumped her brutalized body into an arroyo near the Colorado Street Bridge. Jim Kissick, Nan's former lover, heads a team of detectives who scrutinize every detail of Frankie's life in an attempt to locate and apprehend her killer. Nan has a special interest in this case, since it eerily resembles some aspects of the assault that nearly took her life.

"The First Cut" is a mesmerizing work with an intriguing protagonist. We have all read books about female cops who are embittered or jaded by departmental discrimination and politics, tormented by inner demons, and soured by love affairs gone bad, but Nan is not so easily pigeonholed. Although at one time she resented her ex-husband, Nan now gets along well enough with Wes and his upscale wife. Because she wants to devote as much time as possible to her daughter, Nan has little interest in romance.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Suspense Thriller February 6, 2007
Better start this book on a long weekend because you won't be able to put it down! A real page turner. I really felt "a part of the action" as though I was walking in Detective Nan Vining's shoes. Great visual images--nail biting at times. Wonderful character development with witty insights into peoples' personalities. Very well written and the clever narrative moves along at a crisp pace keeping the reader on edge wanting more. Can't wait for a sequel to this one!

Toni, Pasadena, CA
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Debut September 25, 2006
THE FIRST CUT is a decent book. I read a lot of thrillers, and I think Dianne Emley has a lot of writing talent. The protagonist of this novel, Pasadena Detective Nan Vining, is a strong, likable character. This book is a very well researched procedural. I think Emley did a very good job of describing the daily life in the police department of a smaller city.

This novel isn't perfect, however. It is rather slow-paced. There isn't that much suspense during the first two-thirds of this novel. What we get instead is a lot of backstory about Detective Vining's professional and personal life. There is a murder investigation, but Emley reveals the identity of the murderer very early in the novel. So there isn't a great deal of mystery in THE FIRST CUT either. As a result, this novel really doesn't take off until Vining finally confronts the murderer.

Emley also introduces a huge number of supporting characters in this book, all in one introductory chapter. Many of these characters sound interesting, but most of them play a very small role in the story (presumably they will play a larger role in future installments). In the end, I found it rather difficult to remember all the different names and relationships.

There is also a major plotline in this novel that remain unresolved, although I assume it will be addressed in the sequel to this book. But if you're the type of reader who wants everything wrapped up in one package, you will probably be dissatisfied.

Overall, though, I thought this was a solid start for a promising new crime writer. My major hope is that Emley tightens her plots and gets the action moving a lot quicker.

Three and a half stars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars women can do it as well as men solve murders
moves through story with good descriptions and peoples fallibilities. Interaction between police officers and suspects is good and you can imagine them as you read.
Published 4 months ago by Rosemary L. Appelt
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Very fast moving plot with interesting characters. Enjoyed so much now reading the second one. It is just as interesting.
Published 12 months ago by Anne Hare
2.0 out of 5 stars Cannot understand the high star rating - don't bother with this one
I know that I can't always trust that a book with a 4.5 star rating is going to be good, but the heaps of praise in the reviews for this book absolutely baffle me. Read more
Published 12 months ago by M. Simpson
5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing and captivating read!
I enjoyed the edginess of Dianne Emley's novel. I have read several of her Iris Thorne mysteries and found them all enjoyable. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Kat
4.0 out of 5 stars The First Cut
I really like that it's going to continue. I did think It started off slow, but was better as you went on. The last 3 or 4 chapters were grate!
Published 14 months ago by michael ladwig
1.0 out of 5 stars If Karla Kerlin is involved there is no credibility
Ms. Emley makes a big mistake when she tells the public that any legal understanding is gained by Judge Karla Kerlin. Read more
Published on April 9, 2013 by alisa
5.0 out of 5 stars A First Class Read!
I was getting tired of reading the same authors, so when my husband gave me this book I was happy to try something new. I love the Nan Vining character. Read more
Published on July 25, 2012 by Pavlov's Cat
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't you just love Nan Vining?
The First Cut: A Nan Vining Mystery by the wonderful Diane Emley is in a word, 'Wonderful'.This book introduces a female Police Officer by the name of Nan Vining. Read more
Published on January 26, 2012 by RJ Parker - True Crime Author
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Cut
Dianne Emily is a talented writer. From the very beginning she will pull you in, within the first 15 pages you have thrilling suspense and murder. Read more
Published on August 16, 2011 by Concetta Rammer
5.0 out of 5 stars The message I sent Dianne regarding this book...
Sorry to admit that I grabbed The First Cut nearly a year ago but kind of tossed it in my huge pile of books to be read. Read more
Published on May 3, 2011 by Scooby
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More About the Author

Los Angeles Times bestselling author Dianne Emley always wanted to be a writer. She earned a B.A. in Philosophy and an MBA, both from UCLA, and has held a variety of day jobs, mostly in business middle management. For years during the early morning before she headed to the office, she wrote fiction. Her first book, Cold Call, a mystery about Iris Thorne--a sexy, single L.A. investment counselor in the "greed good" late 1980s--was sold at auction to Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster and published in 1993. It was followed by four more books in the series: Slow Squeeze (1994); Fast Friends (1997); Foolproof (1998); and Pushover (1999).

Dianne took her writing in a new direction when she started a series about Nan Vining--a haunted and driven homicide detective and single mom. The first in the series, The First Cut (2006), was a Los Angeles Times bestseller. Three highly acclaimed books in the series followed: Cut to the Quick (2009); The Deepest Cut (2009); and Love Kills (2010). The newest, Killing Secrets, will be out in 2015.

The Night Visitor, a standalone paranormal mystery, was published in 2014.

Critics around the world have praised Dianne's books, which have been published in 20 countries: "A gripping page-turner..." (Library Journal); "Expertly plotted... redolent with suspense and action..." (Florida Sun-Sentinel); "A superior piece of storytelling..." (Los Angeles Times); "Relentless suspense..." (Booklist).

A Los Angeles native, Dianne lives in the Central California wine country with her husband where she writes full time and is a pretty good cook and a terrible golfer.

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