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on May 10, 2012
I would give this three stars because it's written well enough that I wanted to make it to the end of the story. I wanted to find out what happened. I didn't give it more stars because of the lack of real relationship between the heroine and the detective. It starts out well, with her being understandably annoyed by him - that scene is well written - the only problem is it's almost the only scene between them. There is no reason for her to be constantly in his mind - and no reason for her to ever be attracted to Nick at all.
Based on what I've seen of this author, I'd encourage her to keep trying and just add some more interactions between those who are supposed to wind up together. We have to believe that it's possible, and in this book I just didn't get there quite.
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on April 13, 2018
I love a good mystery and this is a very good one. I started reading and was unable to put it down because I was so caught up in who could be doing the killing and how it was going to effect everyone around them. This was able to keep me guessing even after I thought I knew who it was. The characters were very real and got me involved in their lives, they are very lively and full of life. The dialogue is easy to follow but does not talk down to you at all and even the technical terms are defined. The story maintains the tension throughout and draws you in as the time ticks away things become more complicated.

Aspen Falls is a small town in Colorado which has the distinction of having had a serial killer bury his victims within its boundaries. When FBI agent Nicholas Grant finally finds the location of the dumping ground of a the serial he has been tracking for ten years he thinks that he has finally been able to bring closure to the families of his thirteen victims, what he actually finds is that a more. Jamie Taylor is brought in with her dog to help pinpoint the graves, she is one of the best in the field, and she found them and a lot more.

What they uncover means that there is another serial killer operating in their small town and using the same area to dump bodies. Now they have to find the culprit before any more people go missing to a killer who leaves no marks on the body and no evidence that will lead back to him. The killer makes it personal when he infiltrates the investigation to keep an eye on what is happening and no one is the wiser.

I think this was a great book and I enjoyed it a great deal. I would recommend it highly to any fan of mystery/suspense genre.
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on October 15, 2016
Wow, I am so glad I am keeping with my New Year's resolution and reading my stockpile of books that I got years ago. This one purchased August 3, 2014. One of these days I will get caught up. I did say I would read 125 books this year and still on track with that so will see. So on to this review.

Back to my wow...this book just blew me away. I am really enjoying the mystery/thrillers I had gotten and this one was not a disappointment. The who, what, where, when, why. and how questions were answered in so many different ways along with many twists and turns on the road. I think there were also some backtracks as well. But the story line was awesome. The balance of learning about the characters past and their present was done in such a way that it helped you to understand can care more about them. You became part of the story not just on the sideline watching.

I look forward too more books from Peg Brantley. I do so love the book specials. It is because of them that I am learning about new authors for me like Peg that it keeps me out of the rut that I was in.
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on March 18, 2016
Jamie Taylor works at a bank but her passion is her dogs. She has a Golden named Gretchen who is trained to find dead bodies and grave sites, Socks who is trained in search and Rescue, and McKensie, a bichon who is just for fun. She has a sister, Jax, who is the local medical examiner. Their mother, Star, was the victim of an unsolved murder ten years ago. Their father had taken off soon after to search for Star's killer. He checks in on them when he is in the area.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge Nicholas Grant spends a lot of his downtime trying to find the grave sites of the victims of Leopard Bonzer. Thirteen families have been unable to bury their loved ones. Nick has a bad back which has gotten him hooked on oxycontin. And, due to an incident when he was a child, he is terrified of dogs.
When Bonzer dies in prison, Nick finds a photo hidden in his cell. He believes it is the burial site. Since Bonzer was captured ten years ago with his last victim in his car, the FBI assumes he was driving to his burial ground. Based on the direction he was going they look at many sites and eliminate them one by one. Finally they find a likely spot near Aspen Falls. Jamie is called to bring her cadaver dog. They start marking grave sites and workers start to excavate. They find ten year old graves but also unexpected newer ones. Have two killers been using the same site?

This is a tense, interesting book. The killer is walking among them but who is he? I loved how Jamie was so invested in her dogs. It was educational to see how they worked. Nick had a lot of problems but was essentially a good person.

I recommend this book to people who like mysteries and dogs. I do and I loved it.
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on July 3, 2014
What a great mystery! I loved every minute of my read and couldn't put it down. This is a story of a family that has had brutal tragedies, friends, FBI agent with a fear of dogs, loss and love. Jamie Taylor works at a bank by day and on her time off she helps authorities find missing people and bodies with her trained dogs. Her sister Jax, is the local Medical Examiner. Their father has left them 10 years ago to hunt for their mother's brutal murderer. Nicholas Grant is an FBI agent who has been trying to find the 13 bodies that murderer, Leonard Bonzer admitted killing but wouldn't tell authorities where the bodies were buried. As the story progresses, the author introduces new characters all leading up to the finale. I will definitely be reading more of Peg Brantley books.
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on August 6, 2015
I originally was going to read THE MISSINGS also by Peg Brantley. I usually read the '3 Star' reviews to kind of get "middle of the road" opinions, however, the reviews that I read were not impressive. In fact the conscientious of reviews felt that THE MISSINGS was not as good as the previous book, RED TIDE. I read those reviews and, though not impressed with them, decided to read the 'Look Inside' excerpt. There was enough material provided to secure my interest and make me want to read RED TIDE. I am very glad I did. I am usually too busy to read more than one or two chapters at a time, however, upon starting to read I ignored whatever I had to do that day and read the entire book (thank goodness it only had 296 pages or I would not have slept either!!).

I felt both the writing and editing were very good. I was given just enough of an education in Search & Rescue Dogs to make things understandable. Too much more information and I might have gotten lost in description details and jargon. I liked the characters. That being said, each had their own annoying idiosyncrasies which, inevitably made them more human. I liked that Jamie and Nick were not falling hopelessly in love with each other throughout the story. Too many mysteries out there with H and h constantly mooning over each other and distracting from the plot. After all this is a mystery, not a love story! I was a little surprised when, at the end, Nick and Jamie were 'all of a sudden' a couple. True, as other reviewers have noted, we are not given certain supplementary information (where Nick's money came from, how did he injure his back, what happened to his uncle and the dog involved in the incident when he was a boy). I feel that that information was not completely necessary to the story, although I do think that the continued reference to these scenarios was unnecessary. Maybe an occasional mention would have been sufficient.

To me, the storyline was believable (in fact, it COULD happen). The ending was a bit staged with a "just in time" rescue, but I have come to expect that from most mystery writers (even Dean Koontz and James Patterson). All in all RED TIDE is a book I would recommend to all mystery lovers.

Just an FYI, an excerpt from THE MISSINGS was included after the initial story ended and upon reading it I chose to read that also.
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on December 24, 2015
The story is good; not great, but it keeps you turning the pages. I wanted to know what happened next enough that I finished the book. The main problem was the writing style. First, one knew who the bad guy was as soon as he walked on stage by name. (His point of view had been shown intermittently before.) Given Jamie's history with her prior husband, which is vividly shown (why isn't he in jail, really?), things don't make sense. More fatally, the author's actual writing is flawed. People say that they are going to do one thing and then do something else. Verb tense doesn't track. And, occasionally, an attempt is made at literary elements that just don't work. More than once, I had to stop and re-read a sentence multiple times to try to figure out what was being said. What word did that adjective go with? How do I parse out a series of three or four propositional phrases to see which describes what word or thought? It got a little better as the book went along, but not much. Further, the explanation for the actions of the bad guy does not really gel. It is as if a regular person's sensibilities and desires were put in a sociopath's mind with a little psychopathy added for spice. It just never rings true. Finally, the characters are just slightly better than cardboard cut-outs. We have the spunky, wounded, and slightly flawed heroine, Jamie, and her scientifically brilliant and meticulous sister, Jax, with a horrible marriage that she doesn't shed, because she "loves" her bozo husband. They have two mutual women friends, who are wonderful at their respective jobs (supermodel and schoolteacher). The hero is unrealistically flawed, but fabulously wealthy, and is terrified of Jamie's one great passion. The bad guy is also technologically brilliant and meticulous, but is so stupid that his captives (the need for whom is never adequately explained) escape twice. The happyish ending just happens. And what is with the father? When did a security specialist become a cross between James Bond and Hercules Poirot? The story is well-paced until the very end when some parts slow down while others speed up, so everyone can meet just in time, more or less. Now that I am writing this review, I am a little surprised that I liked the book as much as I did. I suppose the story still trumps all.
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on July 5, 2016
I have not read anything else by this author, so I do not know what her style is. It was the story idea of a Red Tide bio-hazard thriller I found excellent, especially in Colorado (where in the world in that state could there be a red tide, right?); that's what drew me. Plus, this wasn't something new because we all know the CIA did work with scientists to create a something they could use (what for? bio-warfare?). I admit, I was thinking: what an important idea; I wonder what the author has to say about it; I wonder what her feelings are and if they will come through one or more of the characters. How did I miss that reveal? And, where was the source of the toxin found? Not the lab, but the source. And, how were the principal players planning to get rid of it...safely? In the end, what happened to what they found? And, what about the profits gained? Were they recovered? What happened to them?

For me, there were backstory narratives I felt could have been deleted...it felt like Brantley drifted a little sharing everything she loved about her characters (that's where the author's writing sparkled); however, that is only my opinion... some readers might appreciate that information. That said, I would have appreciated a little more character development (and that is not back story information) for a book nearly 300 pages long. I really did try to find some emotional attachment for any of the principal characters.

Question to consider: If this was Volume 1, why was there only 1 story? Is this really Book 1 of a series of books?
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on June 23, 2015
First off, just let me say that the quality of writing in this book is excellent, and I've never read a more convincing villain. His thoughts were not melodramatic, and his actions, though spurred by his mental afflictions, seemed to be in line with his goals. The dialogue was also natural.

Here is why I couldn't give it more stars:
1)Plot rabbit holes that went nowhere. It's completely unimportant to the story that Grant has back pain, takes too many pills, ends up for an incredibly short period in rehab, has a daughter he didn't know about, and crashes in a plane. None of this matters in the least. If this were all cut, the outcome of the story would hardly change a bit. It is also mostly unimportant that Jaimie's ex-husband shows up and threatens her.
2)If all of the above had been cut, there would have been room for more character development. There also would have been time for the romance that Grant would like to have happen, but Jaimie isn't at all thinking about, and yet, in the last sentence, we are expected to believe that they somehow became a couple. That relationship would have been nice to see develop.
3)There were almost no descriptions of the people, and some descriptions of the action were confusing.
4)The women moved too quickly emotionally. Ellen gets engaged after a couple of weeks. Jaimie claims she had been falling in love with Teague when they'd never really had a date yet. Seemed unrealistic.

The story needs to be deeper and tighter to match the writing quality. Come on, Ms. Brantley, you have the talent--give us a revision!
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Top Contributor: Coloringon September 4, 2012
There is a minor spoiler in the next-to-last paragraph of this:

If you're a thriller fan, there's a lot to like about this debut novel. The psychology of the killer is beautifully drawn and perfectly believable, as are the crimes he's committed up to the point where the story opens. His ultimate scheme is brilliantly rendered. The author has done her homework, and we have a chilling sense of very real and impending doom if the killer succeeds. Every facet and necessary detail of his plans has been carefully thought out and provided to the reader in a timely fashion. The book is enhanced by many careful details that make it even more believable. These range from the use of dogs in various types of search and rescue all the way to the ambience of a small town tucked into the Colorado Rockies near Aspen. The author has integrated the scenery, people, terrain, and surroundings of the area with enough skill that we readers are given a solid sense of place.

The book bogs down in a seemingly endless series of sub-plots, relationships (as the term is used in "romance" books), and incidents that look as though they should be significant but which actually lead nowhere. All of these loose and raveling threads make it tough to focus on the central idea that there is a fiend let loose in an idyllic small town, and that he must be found and stopped before a major disaster occurs.

Finally, I kept wanting to compare Jamie to some members of my personal Hall of Fame of female sleuths, which includes Kinsey Milhone, V.I. Warshawski, Anna Pigeon, Joanna Brady, and Rina Lazarus. "The cavalry arrived" at the story's climactic moment just plain doesn't cut it--even though all of the worthy women I've mentioned have needed to be rescued a time or two.

I'll look forward to reading the author's next novel. I hope it will lean more towards the thriller genre and less towards the "relationship story" genre. Tying up even a few of those messy loose ends so that everyone lives happily ever after just doesn't advance either the story or the reader's appreciation of the characters. People don't necessarily live happily ever after in thrillers.
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