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on December 6, 2008
The retirement plan of the Kurev mob family is death; either naturally or by hitmen. No one just leaves alive. Cynthia Beller and Lee Maxwell understand that first hand as her father Claymore and Lee, accountants at the same firm working the blood money of the Kurev mob, tried to quit at different times. Nine years ago Claymore and his family except for his daughter Cynthia were murdered; three years ago, Lee survived the hit, but his wife and daughter were killed. Each of the survivors vowed separately vengeance.

They meet for the first time as Cynthia having just finished a kill is about to leave when Lee enters the abode to assassinate the same thug. They encounter one another twice more before agreeing they have the same list and strategic BHAG. They agree to team up to destroy the Kurev family by dividing up the kills. Meanwhile though sympathetic to their cause and respecting them as he loves his wife and daughter that he might seek vengeance too if they were harmed, FBI agent Owen Dunham struggles with capturing the Grudge Ninja vigilante serial killer preying on the mob.

This is an exhilarating serial killer thriller that hooks the audience because the key three players seem vulnerably human with remorse, regret, and resoluteness. The vivid story line is action-packed especially with the scenes of the kills. However, A.J. Scudiere's tense thriller belongs to the Grudge Killer(s) and the cop reluctantly trying to bring them to the legal justice system even as he believes their vigilante justice is just.

Harriet Klausner
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on December 16, 2011
Another amazing book written by one of my favorite authors. There are a millions of ways to die... Some are just more fun than others.

Cynthia Beller's parents were murdered by the mafia bosses. Cyn secretly plots her revenge. She would some day right the wrong done to her family. Lee Maxwell's wife and daughter were also murdered by the mafia. In a haze of booze and regret he disappears. Owen Dunham is an FBI Agent - he has a badge and a case he can't solve.

One by one the mafia men turn up dead - all tied up in a bright red ribbon. Agent Dunham is following the trail of the "Grudge Ninja - as he has come to call the killer. As Cyn become bolder and more dangerous, Agent Dunham begins to recognize that all the evidence is wrong. There appears to be another killer on the loose. Unbeknown to Agent Dunham, Lee Maxwell has joined up with Cyn. They plot their kills - in and out - Cyn with knives and Lee with guns. They are extracting a deadly revenge for an old wrong.

The numbers began to grow - Agent Dunham is not even close to solving the case. He begins to recognize that there are two killers and one is female. He questions if bringing in the drudge ninja is the right thing to do. It would make his career, but is it worth the trouble? Maybe he will resign, let someone else solve the case. He has always wanted to be a college professor.

As in Scudiere's book - God's Eye - the ending will surprise and delight you.

Ms. Scudiere is an excellent author of mystery fiction. She makes the characters come alive - you will live and feel each murder as Lee and Cyn extract their revenge.

Highly recommended.

Review originally published at BookGateway. This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.
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on February 16, 2012
Vengeance is a wonderfully crafted tale of two unlikely people who choose a dark path after tragedy strikes; a story of two victims who strike back. Cynthia Beller was a child when her parents were killed by the Kurev family. Lee Maxwell's wife and daughter were killed by the same Russian mafia family because of his work at a financial firm who handled the mob's accounts. Instead of moving on with their lives, they disappear in search of payback.

Cyn, now nineteen has become known to the FBI as the `Grunge Ninja' because of her skilled hand to hand fighting and use of knives and throwing stars. Lee on the other hand, is a stealthy gunman, killing and leaving no traces. The unlikely pair first meet when both had planned to execute a mob enforcer at the same time and the same place. With both seeking vengeance against the same family, their paths keep crossing and soon a friendship and partnership forms between the middle-aged man and the young woman.

Thrown in to the mix is Owen Dunham, an FBI agent who is tracking down the serial killer known as the Grunge Ninja. But his challenge is to find clues where none exist and overcome his personal feeling that the ninja should be allowed to continue since she is taking out mobsters, not the innocent.

The story develops as the assassins run from state to state taking down mobsters with Dunham on their heels. The three different perspectives of the events are well blended and the gritty story telling is well above par. Scudiere's action scenes are well paced and perfectly placed throughout the story. The characters are well rounded and very unique. She also does a great job of exploring the character's physiological makeup; their need for revenge, retribution and the loneliness that comes from solitary lives that result from working to obtain those needs.

Vengeance is an excellent gritty thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the twist at the end.

D. Alan Lewis, author of 'The Blood in Snowflake Garden'.
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on October 29, 2011

Vengeance by A.J. Scudiere is appropriately titled; it's about getting vengeance, and lots of it. Claymore Beller was an accountant for the Russian mafia, until the day he tried to turn them over to the IRS, resulting in the murder of his entire family, and of Claymore; or so they thought. Claymore's youngest daughter Cynthia survives and makes it her mission to get vengeance on the men who killed her family.
Lee Maxwell's family was also killed by the Russian mafia for his own betrayal. He, like Cynthia, yearns to get vengeance for the deaths of his wife and daughter; and upon meeting, they decide to make the mafia pay for their crimes. Law enforcement and the media refer to them as the "Grudge Ninja".
Owen Dunham has been following the "Grudge Ninja" case, but none of the evidence/profiles seem to get him any closer to apprehending the suspects. Until he figures out their motive, leaving him to decide whether the "Grudge Ninja" has the right to deal out payback, or if it's his sworn duty to report them.


After reading A.J. Scudiere's Resonance, I was excited to read Vengeance, especially after reading the book blurb. The characters were very unique and well developed, and the plot was definitely solid, two of the many reasons that the book took off as soon as I started reading. I love a good thriller, but most times I find them predictable, so the fact that I was constantly on my toes trying to figure out what was going to happen earned this book huge Brownie points. I also appreciated the level of detail, particularly the grittiness, violence, and gore associated with the pairs' vendetta. I wouldn't be surprised to see this as a movie or as the plot in one of the many crime shows currently on television. This fast-paced thriller is definitely on my recommended list!

Rating: On the Run (4.5/5)

*** I received this book from Griffyn Ink (JKS Communications) in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
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VINE VOICEon September 15, 2011
Please note: Originally read 9/14-15/2011; I am re-reading the book before I read the 2nd book in the series, Retribution. I received the original file from JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book information: Genre: Suspense
Reading Age: Adult
Trigger Warnings: torture, murder, rape (not on page, historical), suicide (historical)
Animals: Several guard dogs are killed; deer is killed for food

My Thoughts and synopsis: Vengeance is exactly my kind of story. That is probably the most important thing I can say about it - it is a thriller, very well-written and filled with well-defined characters that are unique and interesting. Essentially the plot revolves around two people who have lived through terrible things and are, as a result, out for vengeance. Thus the catchy title! Each of them has been after people of the same general ilk, removing the scum from society - but they've started running across one another and duplicating their efforts. When an attempt to divide and conquer goes awry, they decide to join forces. We also spend some time with an FBI agent who is trying to track them down - while he is sympathetic to their cause and doesn't mourn the people they've taken out, he feels compelled to track them down anyway, due to his need for answers.

Added Thoughts from May 2014 Re-Read: The nice thing about re-reading books is you catch things you might have missed the first time around. In my case, I first read an uncorrected proof/ARC, so I couldn't really comment on editing issues anyway. This copy I'm reading though is the final edition, one which I picked up on Amazon during a sale. I have noticed that the spelling used is inconsistent. It's running about half and half between the correct duffel (bag) and incorrect duffle (which is a type of heavy coat). The correct discreet is used a couple of times, but more often the incorrect form discrete (meaning singular) is used. T-shirt is all over the place, and always incorrect, as tee shirt, tee-shirt, t-shirt... When discussing clothing, it's T-shirt, V-neck, that sort of thing: capitalized. A lot of these wouldn't be noticed by anyone but pedants like me, but... they are there.

Recommendations: This was the 2nd book I read by Scudiere and I continue to be impressed. She has a great style and paces her story well. I truly enjoyed reading this book and look forward to the next one. You should definitely pick this book up if you are a fan of thrillers and suspense.
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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon December 29, 2008
Vengeance by A.J. Scudiere was one of two books I got from Scudiere's publisher for review. I read Resonance first, and really enjoyed it. I had saved Vengeance for last because it was written after Resonance and I didn't know if it was a follow-up with the same characters. I quickly found out... it's not. It's *completely* different, and *really* good. I had a harder time putting this one down than the first. I'd have been perfectly happy had it gone even longer than its 400 pages.

Lee Maxwell was an accountant with a nice happy family. That is, until he discovered that he was working for a business run by the mafia. His attempt to contact the authorities and leave his job only led to the gruesome death of his wife and daughter. He went off the grid, buried his identity, and started working on getting revenge for the killings. During one of his operations, he runs into another killer, "Sin", who is young, female, dressed in leather, and an expert in knives and slow, painful deaths. It quickly becomes obvious that they have the same purpose in life... revenge on the mafia and other assorted lowlifes who need to be stopped one way or another. Owen Dunham, the FBI agent on the case, has to figure out who the "Grudge Ninja" is, and why "he" is killing all these people. But should the truth be known, he'd rather allow the killings to continue, as it's a swift and deadly form of frontier justice. Lee and Sin have to come to some sort of arrangement in order to stay out of each other's way and maximize their efforts. Why should they both spend time researching the same target, only to find out the other one got there first for the kill? But Sin has her own dark history that drives her revenge, and opening up to another person is not something she's able to do. The revenge killings reach a crescendo as the FBI starts to get their first real evidence left behind at the scene. The question becomes whether Lee and Sin will finish their list before the FBI (or the mafia) gets to them first...

The story starts out from three very different perspectives, that of Sin, Lee, and Owen. And it's not clear at first why Lee is gunning down scum, and why Sin is leaving dead bodies with multiple cuts and slices, complete with crime documentation, all wrapped up (literally) in a big red bow. Dunham has his own issues, as he really wants to get out of the business and take time to enjoy his wife and daughter before she tires of his demanding job and leaves him. But once Sin and Lee start to confront each other, the story and characters really start to jell. Neither of them want to trust each other, but neither of them wants to eliminate the other, either. This tentative truce gives way to the beginning of trust, all to seek vengeance against those who have destroyed their lives. I was also quite satisfied with the ending, as I wasn't looking forward to how I *though* it was going to conclude.

Very dark, plenty of action, and character interaction that was stellar... An excellent read.
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on July 9, 2012
Lee's wife and daughter will killed because he worked for the Russian mafia. Since then, he has gone of the grid and is taking out different members of the family to get revenge for the deaths. While trying to kill another member of the mafia family, he stumbles upon a petite brunette placing a large red bow and gift card on the all ready dead family member that Lee was planning on killing.

Cyn lost her family to the same Russion mafia. After loosing her sister in foster care, Cyn started training to get her revenge on the family. Although she is small, she packs a powerful punch and has great aim with her knives. Although they work alone, when Lee stumbles upon Cyn at another kill he decides to follow her. They then try to work out a plan to continue their work.

Owen is the FBI agent that has been assigned to the Grudge Ninja case. Owen is having one heck of a time. None of the information matches up, profilers are not helping, and he is having a hard time with his marriage. Owen is torn. He wants to catch the Grudge Ninja, but he is taking care of a larger problem, the Russian Mafia.

I really enjoyed this book. I felt for Cyn and Lee but they managed to overcome what happened to them. Cyn. I loved Cyn. I can't get enough of strong female characters that will stand up for themselves instead of waiting for someone else to help them.

This is a great thriller. I recommend this to everyone that likes thrillers. You will not be disappointed.

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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on November 21, 2011
This is the second book by Ms. Scudiere that I've read, and what has struck me the most is how different her books are from one another. This not only applies to plot lines and characters, but also to pacing and style. She created a new, wholly different reading experience with this book compared to the last one I read.
What drew me in immediately were the two main characters, Lee and Cyn (or Sin, as she is also called). They are brutal yet endearing killers out to get revenge for the wrongful death of family members. They are cold at first, hard for the reader to understand, but this soon changes. When they finally begin to work together, as a team, the way the author builds their relationship is worth the entire book. I was so amused by their interactions, taking this book from a plot-driven thriller to a deeper level. The plot itself is fun, fast-paced (although it could have done with a bit of trimming of some fight scenes), and the reader feels in good hands as the author weaves her story together. There are many moments of tension, including sexual tension, which send the reader's heart beating just a bit faster. There is also a wealth of combat and self-defense research in these pages, obviously demonstrating the care the author took to be as accurate as possible with the violence.
This is a fun story that I can recommend without issue. And I, for one, will be glad to immerse myself in Ms. Scudiere's future projects.
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on September 5, 2013
The best thing about Vengeance by A.J. Scudiere is the kick-ass heroine, Cyn or Sin as the other main character Lee calls her. She is probably the strongest female character I've ever had the honor of reading about. I despise "damsels in distress" and no one would ever characterize Cyn as a damsel and she is most certainly not in distress. She is fully capable of protecting herself and avenging the murder of her family. With a similar motive, Lee, the gunner, suffers a severe loneliness that propels him to seek out Cyn after stumbling upon her at several locations. They are both there to murder the same person. Lee discovers her true identity, tracks her down and urges her to join him. She reluctantly agrees and together they set out on a killing spree that keeps the reader turning the pages until the end.

As characters, Lee and Cyn are realistic and despite the violence, their kills are justified and the reader cheers for their successes. When it came to things going wrong for them, I found myself biting my nails and hoping for the best. It is their loneliness that brings them together and forges a strong bond between them.

For more of my review of Vengeance, check out [...]
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on September 24, 2011
Have you ever felt like murdering someone? Ever had your whole life turn upside down? The reader is privileged to live vicariously through the main characters in this novel. The book is a thriller and very fast-paced, perfect for readers who have been bored with their previous reads.

There are two very well-developed characters in this book. They come from very benign backgrounds as far as who you might expect to go on a killing rampage (only the bad people though). One is an accountant for the Russian mafia, his family is killed when he tries to report them to the IRS. The other is a young girl by the name of Cynthia; she saw her family die at age the Russian mafia. The two connect through their mutual need for vengeance and the book takes off from here.

The events are very fast-paced, slightly gory in parts. The ending is maybe not as satisfying, but it couldn't have ended another way. This book is recommended to adult readers.

*complimentary review copy provided, this does not affect my opinion in any way*
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