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review 2018-06-02 06:17
The Dead Key
The Dead Key - D.M. Pulley

The First Bank of Cleveland in this book is fascinating. Closed from on day to the next, completely locked up, deserted and then forgotten over time. The story has two different lines, 1978 just before this all happened, and 1998 when Iris, a young architect is asked to draw the building for an upcoming project at her firm.

The Dead Key had good and bad things. The best was by far the Bank, it was like it were an time capsule. However, neither of the two stories really got me into the novel. Especially the 1998 one, with Iris making a lot of bad decisions and she also had these strange wandering capacities that are almost as misplaced as would this have been a horror movie. There's a reading of a diary and I never buy it that characters take days or weeks to read it in order to slowly figure out what happened. If they were really as investigating as they show to be (by wandering into every dark, dusty place they discover), they would 'investigate' and finish this diary pronto. This is just a side note of something that annoys me often in novels.

It was not that The Dead Key didn't entertain, I just felt very little connection to any of the characters and it was very easy to put it down and read something else instead.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2017-11-15 07:29
The Unclaimed Victim
The Unclaimed Victim - D. M. Pulley

By:  D.M. Pulley 

ISBN: 1542046432

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer 

Publication Date:  11/14/2017

Format: Paperback 

My Rating:  4 Stars (ARC) 


D. M. Pulley returns following The Buried Book and The Dead Key with her latest historical fiction THE UNCLAIMED VICTIM—a blending of fact and fiction, history, a gruesome unsolved murder mystery, with dual timelines and dark hidden secrets.

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” – Fredrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good, and Evil, 1886

Pulley is a pro at digging up the dark secrets of the past and blending with the present while intertwining her own fascinating "what if" shocking conclusion.

Cleveland, Ohio. In 1999 a man is found, Alfred Ray Wiley. The daughter Kris recalls the argument with her father. He wanted her to move back home. He did not like her wasting her time with starving artists. 

A tattoo. Dark secrets. Her father’s obsession with the Torso Killer. The library books. and the Search for a Psychopathic Killer. 

The Torso Killer got his name by cutting off his victims’ heads, arms, and legs. What did her father have to do with this horrible stuff? 

Thirteen bodies from 1934-1938, victims of the serial killer dubbed as the “Torso Killer, and the “Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run.” 

In the past, 1938 during the Great Depression. A madman terrorizing the city. 

Ethel Harding, a prostitute. The monstrous Harmony Mission. She was desperate. A horrible mistake. Her mother had thrown her out onto the street. 


A religious cult. Brutal slayings. White supremacist. Crime group. Unsolved murders. The casualties of the Depression littered the banks with starving children and battered women. Bodies found in the river. 

From 1935 to 1938, bodies were dumped in the area known as Kingsbury Run, a creek bed that runs from East 90th Street and Kinsman Road to the Cuyahoga River. 

The victims included seven men and five women. Most were hobos and prostitutes, people living on the edge at a time when Cleveland was hard hit by the Great Depression. Many weren't missed for months.

Pulley takes a real shocking story and adds her own unique spin. It's her second book that shines a light on Cleveland's notorious past; the first, 2015's "The Dead Key," was a thriller set in the old Cleveland Trust Tower.

From 1930’s Ethel and 1990’s Kris – how are the two cases linked? 

As with Pulley’s other two books, they are well-researched blending mystery, intrigue, and history. 

Creepy and haunting, based on the most gruesome crime spree in Cleveland history, making headlines across the nation--and still haunting the streets of Cleveland. The killer who was never caught.

For fans of historical mysteries with a twist of Gothic. Also, fans of Aimee Austin (Sylvie Fox)’s Casey Cort Legal series - set in Cleveland will enjoy (have read them all). Always interesting for readers located in the South to visit the shocking secrets of the Midwest. Found myself doing additional research to learn more. 

The author includes additional research for those interested in this era. View Video with the author. 

Looking forward to seeing what's next. 

A special thank you to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. 


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/10/02/The-Unclaimed-Victim
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-07-27 10:15
The Bedlam Stacks
The Bedlam Stacks - Natasha Pulley

Set in the same universe as The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, this book is not a sequel although one of the main characters from the previous books makes a couple of quite lengthy appearances - while that book was set in London, The Bedlam Stacks takes place mostly in Peru, as our protagonist is part of a mission sent to try and steal cuttings from cinchona trees in order to help produce quinine for the East India Company. 


We first meet Merrick Tremayne when he's recovering from a serious injury at his family home in Cornwall, which is literally falling apart around his ears. Against his better judgement, he agrees to take part in an expedition to Peru and follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. With Merrick and his companions, we spend a lot of time travelling and eventually arrive at New Bedlam, in the company of its priest, the taciturn Raphael. The village itself is on the border of a mysterious forest, the shortest route to the cinchona but also both the village and the forest are guarded by the markayuq (who Merrick mistakenly believes are clockwork).


Anyway, matters come to a head, Merrick and Raphael end up travelling into the forest regardless and Merrick subsequently discovers there is much more going on in darkest Peru than just the cinchona. In a flashback sequence, we discover that Merrick's injury was deliberately engineered by a much-younger Keita in the hope that it would stop him going into the forest, so I wouldn't be surprised at all if the aftermath of all Merrick's actions comes back to have significant consequences in a future novel.


Unlike both of the main characters in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, I found it difficult to empathise with Merrick - he comes across as quite weak and frightened of social consequences a lot of the time, even when he is doing things he knows are morally reprehensible. Raphael is a more interesting character, facing his own immortality in many ways, but he still didn't quite work for me either. As a result, while I'd said in my previous review that I felt it was unlikely I'll re-read The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, in hindsight I think I was wrong about that just on the basis of the relationship in it between Thaniel and Mori and it's probably The Bedlam Stacks I won't want to re-read.


I'm still looking forward to seeing what Natasha Pulley writes next, but it'd be nice to see her write about women too. Grace Carrow got fairly short shrift in the previous book and women are very much supporting characters here too, either devoted wife to Merrick's fellow explorer or helpful villager and that's just about it. 

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review 2017-07-05 16:57
The Bedlam Stacks - Natasha Pulley

Reminiscent of a H Rider Haggard or H G Wells novel, his book deals with a pair of English explorers in Peru to bring cinchona bark to India to make quinine and prevent a malaria epidemic. They travel to "Bedlam" of the title and meet a variety of local characters as well as encountering "magical" phenomena.

With 1st person narration, this perhaps overlong novel is quite entertaining and interesting, incorporating the sort of magic realism of Marquez. The characterisations and descriptions are elaborate and I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good yarn.

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review 2017-05-04 17:30
The Buried Book by DM Pulley
The Buried Book - D. M. Pulley

Set in and around Detroit in 1952, 9 year old Jasper has just been left at his uncle Leo’s farm. No one knows where his mother Althea has gotten off to and his dad visits when he can. Jasper has many questions and several of those can be answered by secrets kept on the farm. The rest he must hunt out, puzzling them together.

Part mystery, part literary fiction, part coming of age, this tale wasn’t what I was expecting but it sure was gripping. Most of the book is told through Jasper’s eyes, though there are flashbacks sprinkled throughout the book to show us Althea’s life as a girl long before she had Jasper. While some parts of the book were a bit slow, there was always something pulling me back into it.

Althea grew up in the Prohibition Era and as a teen she is faced with some interesting employment choices. She doesn’t want to be a farmer her whole life yet she doesn’t see many choices in front of her either. Jumping forward a generation, young Jasper is dumped on the farm’s doorstep. Eventually he starts exploring things a bit and finds the old farmhouse that was gutted by fire. The structure is still standing and he makes a very interesting discovery inside, one that gives him many clues as to his mom’s history. These clues lead him to seek out people his mom once knew and who might be able to help him locate her today.

I wasn’t expecting some of the twists and turns this book took, which I really liked about the story. Since he’s only 9, most of the adults in the tale don’t want to tell him what they know, usually in an attempt to protect him. Jasper is tired of being protected from the truth and indeed, the web of lies and evasions really start to weigh on the guy. Talk about emotional and mental strain!

The farm scenes were good but often intense. After all, it’s a working farm complete with livestock, tractors, and plenty of chores. Jasper has his older cousin to help him navigate the dos and dont’s of the farm. There are scenes of butchering but I didn’t feel they were gratuitously gory though we do get Jasper’s view on these scenes. Initially, he’s a bit horrified but as he spends more time on the farm, he starts to understand and except how things are done.

The ending wrapped up the big questions and I believe Jasper comes out the stronger for the experience. I did feel some minor mysteries were left hanging a bit. While such is often so with real life, I did want just a little more from this book. Still, it was a good listen and I did get attached to Jasper and his cousin.

I listened to this audiobook through Kindle Unlimited.

The Narration: Luke Daniels was great for this book. I am once again impressed with his vocal range. He was great as 9 year old Jasper including the myriad of emotions he experiences throughout this story. I especially loved his voice for uncle Leo who was often hard yet caring at the same time. Daniels’s female voices were good and his regional accents were well done.

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