ARC Review: Deceived // an average but enjoyable read

This review is unfortunately a week late. These past three weeks have been eventful, to say the least, with finals, Eid, and some family events all taking place right after another.

But I’m back and starting off the month with a review of a new mystery novel by Mary Keliikoa. This book started off a little weak, but by the end, I was pretty interested in the resolution and was curious as to who the true bad guy would end up being.

A couple of disclaimers: there are no spoilers in this review; I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a review, however, all opinions and thoughts are my own.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

book stack with a steaming tea cup on top surrounded by swirls divider

Adult, Mystery, Crime

by Mary Keliikoa

PI Kelly Pruett finally feels like she’s coming into her own. With her personal life well on track, a gig uncovering what drove a client’s granddaughter underground could be good for business. But after her undercover operation at the homeless shelter reveals rampant drug dealing, she’s suddenly kicked off the case… just as another girl goes missing.

Vowing to expose the truth even if it means pro-bono work, Kelly is taken aback when her half-sister helps her hunt down answers in a tent city brimming with distrust. When her investigation doesn’t move quickly enough to save a second woman from a vicious murder, Kelly doubles her efforts unwilling to accept defeat.

trigger warnings: death, violence

the characters

Let’s start with our main character Kelly.

I really wanted to love and champion Kelly the entire time, but she made some questionable conclusions that bothered me. She was too quick to make accusations/assumptions without actually finding out what really had happened.

She also didn’t seem to have the sort of finesse required that comes with working in the PI world where you technically have the right to investigate absolutely nothing and are mostly at the mercy of the people you need to speak with. And this is all based on my observation from other PI books; I don’t know about the real world, and I don’t claim to be an expert.

One good thing though is that Kelly herself knows that she’s not all that great at speaking with people different from herself. So, she lets those who do know how to have those conversations take the lead when necessary. That was admirable in my opinion, and I think her character grew from that.

Something that this book did great was the family themes. I really like how by the end of the book, they had this big mismatched family made of Kelly, her deaf daughter Mitz (one of the handful of times I’ve seen deaf rep in books!), Kyle, Hannah, Arlene, Jeff and Linda, and Robyn and Trinity. Though I guess Robyn and Trinity are more like close family friends; still, it was really nice to see.

I did have a few grievances with Kyle. At first, it seemed like he was good for Kelly and was helping her learn how to really work relationships. However, when things started to go wrong, I felt like he wasn’t there for her as he should have been. Then again, it did interfere with his police work as he is a detective, but I still feel like he could have tried to handle the situation better.

Jeff (Kelly’s ex-husband and Mitz’s father) and Linda (Kelly’s ex-best friend and now Jeff’s wife) did not win any awards or love in my heart, though Kelly was very mature in how she handled the situation with them.

Arlene and Hannah, Kelly’s ex-mother-in-law and her half-sister respectively, were pretty cool! I enjoyed having them in the story and seeing how they cared for Kelly even though she took that for granted at times. There’s definitely a backstory with Hannah that I think was explored in the previous books, and I’m slightly curious to see how the relationship between them was formed.

As for the rest of the characters, honestly, I just didn’t particularly care about or connect to them. But that’s just me; I’m sure others would really like them.

And yeah, that’s pretty much it for the characters.

the plot

Some wealthy guy named Bernie has hired Kelly to investigate his homeless shelter that has caused his granddaughter to go underground. Kelly’s investigation leads her to a potential drug dealing operation based in the shelter, but things get complicated when dead girls start piling into the mix.

To add to her stress, Kelly is struggling to deal with her ex-husband’s new wife, her half-sister suddenly drops in unannounced and moves in next door, and her long-dead mother seemingly has ties to the case.

The big question is: can she handle all these changes in her life and save yet another vulnerable girl before it’s too late?

The plot was okay. I wasn’t super heavily invested, and I was bored for the first third of the book or so. But it does get better and I like that it focused on the homeless and how easy it is for people to exploit them, or ignore the struggles that they face.

As for the ending with the revelation of our bad guy, I honestly was not expecting it in the slightest. I don’t know, I think I’ve grown incredibly rusty with my detecting skills because I really was surprised as to who it turned out to be. It made a lot of sense though, so I’m glad I continued reading.

final reflections

To conclude: this was personally an average read for me. My favorite part of the book was certainly the family themes and the insight into the lives of the homeless. The plot itself started off a little boring and I was uninterested for the first third or so, but by the end, I felt that the plot had picked up and I was pleased with how the mystery was resolved.

About the Author:

Mary Keliikoa's author picture.

Mary Keliikoa is the author of the Shamus Finalist and Lefty, Agatha and Anthony award nominated PI Kelly Pruett mystery series and the upcoming Misty Pines mystery series featuring Sheriff Jax Turner slated for release in September 2022. Her short stories have appeared in Woman’s World and in the anthology Peace, Love and Crime: Crime Fiction Inspired by Music of the ‘60s. A Pacific NW native, she spent a part of her life working around lawyers. Combining her love of legal and books, she creates a twisting mystery where justice prevails.

When not in Washington, you can find Mary on the beach in Hawaii where she and her husband recharge. But even under the palm trees and blazing sun, she’s plotting her next murder—novel that is.

Deceived was published on May 10, 2022

May I Have a Word?

Some questions for you:

  • Have you read Deceived or any of Mary Keliikoa’s books?
  • Have you seen deaf characters in books before? If so, which books would you recommend?
  • In mysteries/thrillers, do you prefer solid characters or a solid plot?

Talk to me in the comments below!

58 thoughts on “ARC Review: Deceived // an average but enjoyable read

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