Monday, June 20, 2016

Reader's Review: "Bounty" by J. D. Cunegan


Synopsis from Amazon:
Jill Andersen is one of Baltimore's best and brightest detectives, but she harbors a dark secret -- a secret that threatens to come out when the body of Dr. Trent Roberts is pulled out of the Chesapeake Bay. Dr. Roberts' connection to Jill reveals a past that involves a tour in Iraq, a secretive cybernetic experiment, and a conspiracy that involves a native son.

Can Jill solve the case while still keeping her secret? Will her partners at the Seventh Precinct find out what she's so desperate to hide? What was Dr. Roberts looking into that led to his murder? And perhaps the biggest question of all...

Who is Bounty?

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My Review:

I went in with the understanding that Jill Andersen was largely inspired by the character Kate Beckett on the TV show Castle. I may have expected something like the outrageously-fun "Richard Castle novels", which are basically "season recaps", told through the eyes of an imaginative mystery author, with the characters basically exactly the same and the names changed. (But only slightly)
I quickly discovered within only a few pages that Jill was no Kate—and yet the two fictional characters, should they ever meet, would doubtless relate.
It is a subtle, delicate art to take a genre and a theme so popular, so dense with common tropes and lively cleverness, and turn it into something completely unique and fresh and engaging—but Cunegan nails it.
He gives us a heroine of the truest sort, one with every reason to be bitter and sulky, but who chooses instead to rise and take a stand and be the one to make her world better. 
He provides that heroine with just the support she would need: a loyal work partner, a hard but just captain, a sympathetic friend... And a family she believes is worth the difficult task of reconciliation. 
He gives that heroine an aspect that is often her greatest strength (literally) but could also become her deepest flaw: she is a cyborg, with an optical implant for an eye, and a reinforced skeleton. It's a classic recipe for the best sort of "superhero vigilante" story—but a flaw because of the need to stay hidden, which does not lend itself to letting anyone get too close, and a need that her enemies would willingly exploit if they knew.
He crafts a dire mystery with red herrings, misdirects, betrayal, and twists aplenty. And he resolves it all just enough... But not too much.

I really enjoyed Cunegan's writing style; each character had his and her own distinctive personality, and those personalities stayed true throughout the book, in each circumstance. Scenes were set up with plenty of atmosphere, and the imagery evoked just the right kind of emotion. I didn't even mind the alternative lifestyle preferences represented; the choices felt completely natural for the characters, and none of it was a big deal.

I fell in love with the characters, intrigued by the mystery, entertained all the way through, and by the end, I wanted more. I give this book *****5 STARS***** and I am definitely going to want the rest of the series! BOUNTY and the rest of the Jill Andersen mysteries promise to be perfect for avid fans of the "superhero vigilante" trope, the mystery/crime genre, and are looking for a new, fresh voice to rejuvenate the fandom!
 
Further Reading: (Conspiracy/Thriller/Mystery/Strong Female Lead)