LitStack Review: Edge of Black by J.T. Ellison

Edge of Blackedge of black
J.T. Ellison
Harlequin Mira
ISBN: 978-0-7783-1485-1

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J.T. Ellison’s second book in her Samantha Owens Series, Edge of Black, was released last November. Chapter 1 opens with the story’s perpetrator squeezing through a tight air duct. I’m rather claustrophobic, so this scene caught my attention right away. The assassin releases a mysterious chemical into the Washington D.C subway system. Hundreds of commuters are sickened by the poisonous agent, but only three die. Why those three? And what is the connection between them?

Smart and savvy medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens lives in D.C. and is called into the case by her friend, police detective Darren Fletcher. He asks her to autopsy the victims, primarily Congressman Peter Leighton. The police suspect the chemical was anthrax or ricin, but Sam is not convinced. Something is clearly not right.

Sam’s boyfriend, Xander Whitfield, lives a solitary life in the Maryland mountains not far from D.C. He possesses special skills as a result of his extensive military training and has connections with potentially terrorist “survivalists.” And he knows his way around their secretive websites. He suspects something sinister is about to happen hours before the subway attack. He rushes to Sam’s apartment to ensure she is safe.

Knowing he can get to the bottom of the mystery quicker than the cops, Xander takes off for Denver, where he suspects the killer might be hiding out and may be planning another attack. Because of Xander’s unexplained disappearance, the police detain Sam for questioning. Fletcher realizes she could be more help to him on the outside, so he looks the other way while she escapes. She follows Xander to Denver. Here, we meet Xander’s loving hippie parents, who affectionately call him by his birth name, Moonbeam.

Between Xander’s connections in Colorado and Sam’s super-sleuthing skills, the two of them discover the necessary connections between the victims and put together the missing links. They fearlessly find the killer before the authorities can reach him.

This plot-driven mystery moves along well and holds the reader’s attention. The story evolves from the perspectives of Sam, Xander, Fletcher, and at times, the killer. The connections between the secondary characters are creative and clever. The plot is well-constructed and thought out, but there is no surprising twist at the end. The romance between Sam and Xander is sweet and genuine. Because this is the second in a series, I recommend reading Ellison’s first book in the series, A Deeper Darkness, first. That would help the reader better understand some of the complexities about Sam’s background and answer some of the questions I had as I read Book 2. Recommended for readers who enjoy detective mystery romances.

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