The First Cut

( 18 )

Overview

For two minutes she was dead.

The assailant was vicious, the attack brutal–and it left her lifeless . . . until her pulse fluttered and she jolted awake. Now, a year later, detective Nan Vining is still questioning her strength, her safety, even her sanity: Can she ever again be the cop–and mother–she was before? And will her attacker someday return to finish the job, before she can track him down herself?

Shaky but determined, Vining rejoins ...

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Overview

For two minutes she was dead.

The assailant was vicious, the attack brutal–and it left her lifeless . . . until her pulse fluttered and she jolted awake. Now, a year later, detective Nan Vining is still questioning her strength, her safety, even her sanity: Can she ever again be the cop–and mother–she was before? And will her attacker someday return to finish the job, before she can track him down herself?

Shaky but determined, Vining rejoins the Pasadena PD, only to confront a murder case that strikes close to home: A slain policewoman has been discovered beneath the Colorado Street Bridge, her body bruised, her throat slit. Even as Vining struggles to recover her standing within the department, she can’t help but feel profoundly drawn to the murdered officer, Frankie Lynde–and she is deeply troubled by the baffling otherworldly visions that haunt her waking hours. Are these mere fever dreams? Or could they be, as Vining’s daughter insists, messages from beyond the grave?

Digging deeper into Lynde’s past, Vining discovers clues that set her on the twisted trail of a killer as ruthless as he is depraved–a predator whose methods and madness recall those of her own attacker. Amid a rising tide of danger, she pushes herself to bold new limits, desperate to avenge the murder of a fellow police officer . . . and to reclaim the life she lost a year ago.

Packed with suspense and action, this pulse-pounding novel will hold you breathless from the first cut to the last.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Advance praise for The First Cut

“The First Cut should immediately establish Dianne Emley in the front ranks of thriller writers . . . A great read.”
–Michael Connelly, author of The Lincoln Lawyer

“Gritty, intense, and hard-edged, The First Cut is first-rate.”
–Tess Gerritsen, author of The Mephisto Club

“Action-packed, with plenty of suspense and enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing long into the night.”
–Lisa Jackson, author of Shiver

“An edge-of-your-seat plot . . . nicely developed characters and genuine suspense elevate this impressive crime debut.”
–Kirkus Reviews

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly
A year after surviving a brutal attack, Pasadena, Calif., police officer Nan Vining returns to duty in Emley's sizzling debut, a hard-edged police procedural with a psychic twist. Nan, a 34-year-old single mom who still bears emotional and skin-deep scars, has her mettle tested by her first case back. The gory corpse of young, blonde LAPD vice cop Frankie Lynde, who got "too close to her work," murmurs a cryptic message to Nan at the crime scene. Nan's ability to hear the dead may be connected to her near-death experience or may be a symptom of post-traumatic stress, but it does help crack Frankie's case and eerily provides a clue about Nan's unknown attacker, whom she and her 14-year-old daughter, Emily, dubbed T.B. Mann or "The Bad Man." Readers will cheer as the fast-paced, high-stakes investigation empowers Nan to triumph over a repugnant criminal and her fears. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This gripping debut page-turner examines the shadier side of humanity while providing readers with a first-rate story. However, it is not for those with delicate sensibilities. Detective Nan Vining returns to her desk at the Pasadena Police Department, one year after having barely survived a brutal attack. She is assigned to investigate the vicious rape-murder of LAPD vice cop Frankie Lynde, who worked as an undercover prostitute. Lacking substantial clues, the police turn to the public for help. While they encounter numerous dead ends, Vining, who has experienced visions since the attack, follows otherworldly clues and her keen sense of insight to find the path of a brutal psychopath. Emley introduces two plotlines here, only one of which is satisfactorily concluded. Though Emley states that she will resolve the identity of Nan's attacker in further books, the reader is nonetheless left disappointed. Despite this flaw, the title is recommended for all suspense collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/06.].-Nanci Milone Hill, Nevins Memorial Lib., Metheun, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Pasadena police detective back on the job after a traumatic attack investigates the brutal sex murder of another female officer. Chastened by a gruesome knife assault that left her clinically dead for more than two minutes, Detective Nan Vining returns to work after a year's absence feeling emotionally shaky. Her attacker still at large, the no-nonsense single mom of a teenaged daughter struggles with panic attacks and a deep fear of entering strangers' homes. Still, when attractive L.A. vice cop Frankie Lynde is found dead in a tony neighborhood with her throat cut, Vining jumps at the chance to work a case that perhaps hits too close to home. Drawn to the dark side, Frankie knew her killer-wealthy club owner John Lesley-and was having an increasingly kinky affair with him and his pneumatic ex-stripper wife, "Pussycat," prior to being tortured and murdered. Handsome and smooth, Lesley manages to cover his tracks, leaving Vining and her colleagues, including her once (and future?) love interest Jim Kissick, with little to go on. They are aided considerably, though, by Vining's almost psychic bond with the dead policewoman, who, knowing she wouldn't survive, left at least one telltale clue behind. Meanwhile, his taste for depravity far from satisfied, Lesley forces the drug-addicted Pussycat to help him snatch a new victim, who will share Frankie's fate if he is not stopped in time. Retracing Frankie's final days, Vining moves closer and closer to the psychopath, culminating in an inevitably bloody showdown. With an edge-of-your-seat plot, Emley's propulsive thriller manages to skirt the misogynistic nature of it subject matter: Vining has respect for fellow tough-girl Frankie, a lonelyfigure who never came back from her walk on the wild side. Nicely developed characters and genuine suspense elevate this impressive crime debut.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345486189
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/30/2008
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 503,076
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Dianne Emley was born in Los Angeles, California. Except for her junior year in college when she studied at the Université de Bordeaux, France, she has always lived in and around Los Angeles. She has a BA in philosophy and an MBA in marketing, both from UCLA. She has held jobs as varied as drill press operator, polling place recruiter, California Department of Consumer Affairs complaint handler, clothing boutique buyer, egg and poultry industry marketer, software company sales manager, and technical writer. While having traveled the world, she lives five miles from where she grew up with her husband Charlie and two cats and is gleefully happy with her favorite and last profession: crime writer. Visit the author’s website at www.DianneEmley.com.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

One

No one knew her here. no one she knew would show up at this joint near LAX where the music was loud enough to muffle the roar of jets. There were usually no cops here. She could make a cop no matter how good the cover. She was an attractive female alone in a strip club but no one would bother her. Her uniform, gun, and badge repelled that sort of nonsense. A guy she figured for the manager asked if he could be of assistance. She said she was waiting for someone. She would only be there a couple of minutes. Thanks. He retreated to his stool at the bar and was giving her a dirty look. A police officer had a chilling effect on business. A female cop was especially vexing. Frankie Lynde enjoyed the power she had to disturb this tough guy and she kept on her game face, her take-no-prisoners face. It was fun. A prelude to the night of fun ahead.

It was midnight. She had finished her shift, letting the last guy she could have collared for solicitation go home with a warning because the arrest and the paperwork would have made her late. That was okay with her team. One was taking off the next morning for the Colorado River with his family. The others were just plain ready to resume their lives. The john was scared out of his wits anyway. He was a clean-cut family man kind of guy who probably had a job where people looked up to him. Frankie doubted he’d ever again seek action along that stretch of Sunset near Gower.

In the station locker room, she’d taken off the silver wig and leather miniskirt. She’d unzipped and peeled off the over-the-knee boots she’d bought at Frederick’s purple flagship store on Hollywood Boulevard. She didn’t have to go to such effort to costume herself. The other female undercover cops who posed as streetwalkers wore tight jeans and belly shirts, looking as if they could be waiting for their boyfriends to pick them up to go to the movies, like many whores working Sunset’s east end. For the whores, their sexy-but-regular-girl clothing bolstered their innocent excuses when cops questioned them about why they were loitering. “My car broke down over there.” “I had a fight with my boyfriend and he took off and I’m gonna see if he’s at his mom’s house over here. Around the corner. Up there.”

Frankie liked to dress like a hooker. She had a dozen wigs and outfits. She told the other vice detectives that by changing her look, the hookers and johns wouldn’t make her. She told about having picked up the same john three times, wearing three different wigs. There were rumors around the department that Frankie got into her role a little too much. She didn’t deny it. It was pointless, made her look weak, and gave the rumors credibility. Her numbers spoke louder than talk. Any night she was on the street, she made three times as many collars as the other female officers. She knew how to stand with her legs apart, moving her hips back and forth as if she had an itch.

She was tall and good-looking. Too good-looking to be standing on a street corner. If she were a hooker for real, she’d be a highly paid call girl, not a streetwalker. The johns never put that together. They saw. They wanted. They pulled over. When they started talking specific fees for specific favors, she’d lean toward their car to give them a glimpse of her cleavage and yank the hem of her skirt with both hands, the signal for her backup to move in for the arrest.

Bottom line, she roped them in, that’s all they needed to know at the station. They had no idea how much truth there was to the rumors. That was for Frankie to know and the others never to find out.

At home, she’d peeled off the metallic tube top that she had not removed in the locker room in front of the others. She didn’t want glances and whispers about what she was hiding there. She’d scrubbed off the heavy makeup and shampooed and blow-dried her long, blond hair. She’d pinned it into a tight bun at the back of her head and applied conservative makeup. She wasn’t conservative in her choice of earrings, selecting the diamond studs. He’d asked her to wear them. The large diamonds seemed to have inner life, radiating when touched by light. Most definitely not regulation.

She’d strapped on her Kevlar vest. One never knew. The last thing she needed was someone with a cop grudge taking a potshot at her. Finally, she’d put on her uniform, crisp and fresh from the dry cleaners. Flying the colors while not on police business was in violation of department policy. If caught, she’d be formally reprimanded and possibly suspended. It was worth the risk. She wasn’t going to get caught.

Even with the bust-flattening vest, hip-obscuring slacks, and waist-eliminating equipment belt, Frankie knew she still looked hot. It was common cop knowledge that if a female managed to look hot in uniform, she’d look three times as hot in street clothes.

“What’ll you have?” The bartender’s surgically enhanced breasts ballooned from her tight, low-cut top.

“Diet Coke.” That was part of the game. There would be plenty of drinks later.

From his seat at the end of the bar, the manager watched the bartender shoot cola into a glass from a nozzle.

Frankie set a five-dollar bill on the bar and turned to watch the stage, an oval set in an arena of chairs and small tables. Three women wearing only G-strings gyrated around poles, spinning, hanging upside down. Their enlarged boobs defied gravity. It was Friday night. The club was crowded with businessmen, guys with buddies, guys alone, and a few couples out to spice up their sex life.

Two men wearing dress shirts with the top buttons undone and no ties entered the club. They were loose and loud. They had started drinking somewhere else.

“Hey, hey . . . Lookie here. A po-leece woman. Howya doin’ lady cop?”

“Fine. How are you?”

“Never better,” reciting the mantra of the party guy.

The other one, unsteady on his feet, pointed at Frankie’s chest, nearly touching her. “You wearing a bulletproof vest?”

“Please step away, sir.”

“Oooh . . . Hey. Okay, officer, okay.” He held up his fists, wrists together. “Arrest me.”

That started them guffawing. The goofball closest to Frankie did not comply with her request. He looked like the kind of guy who took crap all week long. On the weekends, he got drunk and dished out some of his own. Some cop, some time, somewhere had done something to piss him off and now Frankie had to deal with the residue.

She gave him her dead-eye gaze.

“You’re kinda cute. I could maybe have a thing for a woman in uniform.”

In the blink of an eye, she pulled her nightstick from its ring on her equipment belt, flipped it by the handle, and assumed an aggressive stance. The polished cherrywood was an old-time weapon passed to Frankie from her father, who’d received it from his father. It did the trick. If party boy moved an inch closer, she’d shove the rod into the soft spot below his rib cage.

He made a motion as if to grab the nightstick.

“Sir, I asked you to step away.”

She kept her eyes on him as he tentatively backed off, reaching to slide his beer from the bar. Saying “Let’s beat it” to his buddy, he moved toward the stage. She heard him mutter “Bitch” under his breath.

Frankie resisted smiling as she picked up her Diet Coke.

Customers eyed her uncomfortably. The manager dropped a foot from the stool rung and was about to step off when a young, attractive woman darted into the club.

She stopped short when she saw the nearly nude dancers, even though the club’s giant sign, visible from the 105 freeway said “XXX Marks the Spot.” She let out a yelp of surprise as she pressed the back of her hand against her mouth and whirled around. She spotted Officer Lynde.

“Oh, Officer, Officer. Help me, please.”

She ran to Lynde, wringing her hands.

Frankie stepped forward, her feet shoulder distance apart in a ready position. “What’s the problem, ma’am?”

The woman’s demeanor was as oddball as her appearance. She was wearing a masculine pantsuit, a white button-down shirt, a rep tie, polished wingtips, and a billed chauffeur’s cap. From beneath the cap, a platinum blond braid dropped to the middle of her back. White frosted lipstick set off a deep tan. Heart-shaped, red plastic sunglasses obscured her eyes.

“My boss was robbed. He was robbed,” she wailed in a high-pitched voice. “A man, with a gun.”

“Where?”

People turned their attention from the dancers to watch this show.

“Outside. In the parking lot. Please help us. Please.”

“When?”

“Just now. Come out. I’ll show you.”

“Is the man with the gun still there?” Frankie’s stoic demeanor cracked and she appeared bewildered.

“No, no. Just come out.” The chauffeur didn’t wait but bolted out the door.

Frankie jogged after her, quickly catching up. “My boss was robbed. What kind of crap is that, Pussycat?”

Still running, one hand holding her hat on her head, the other cradling her large breasts to keep them from bouncing, Pussycat let out a squeal. “Your acting stinks.”

“I thought we were meeting inside.”

“Change of plans.”

Pussycat’s voice was airy and her speech rapid.

Frankie couldn’t see her eyes behind the heart-shaped sunglasses. “How high are we?”

Pussycat gave her a big, open-mouthed grin. “I’m having a real good time.”

“Maybe a little over-amped, huh? You’d better check yourself.”

“Oh, Officer Lynde. You just can’t stop being a cop, can you?” She squealed as they approached a limousine that was parked in the farthest corner of the lot and laughed with abandon when the passenger door dropped open.

Panting from the run, Pussycat resumed the ruse. “He’s in there, Officer. My boss is in there.”

Frankie climbed into the back of the limo and the chauffeur, giggling, closed the door after her.

“Good evening, Officer Lynde.”

He was immaculate in a white tuxedo with tails, a red rose in his lapel.

His wife climbed behind the wheel and pulled the limo into the street. The entrance to the 105 was less than a block away. She got on heading east.

He took Frankie’s breath away. He always did, but tonight . . . Something was different tonight. Something was special. He had requested that she wear her uniform. The only other time she’d been with them in uniform was when they had first met.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 16, 2011

    The First Cut

    Dianne Emily is a talented writer. From the very beginning she will pull you in, within the first 15 pages you have thrilling suspense and murder. You instantly like the main character, Detective Nan Vining as she hunts down TB Man (The Bad Man). I couldn't put this book down. This is a must read. I cannot wait to read Cut to the Quick.

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  • Posted May 4, 2011

    First rate, very well done

    Fankie Lynde is dead. Brutalized in the most unspeakable ways, stabbed savagely and the hurled down a gulley totally unclad for all to witness. A display of brutality, depraved indifference to life or what?There have been lots of psycho-murders,so what's new?

    Frankie Lynde was a very pretty young girl. Well pretty young girls are usually the targets of these deranged monsters, so what's new?

    She was also a cop on the Pasadena PD and pretty savvy. She knew her way around and even had a rep for "getting chalk on her shoes" meaning
    she often got close to the line and sometimes hung with dangerous folks.

    And she was a friend of Nan Vining's.

    Cops see their colleagues get overly adventurous and cops witness all kinds of horrors, so what's new?

    What's new is that Nan Vining had been attacked herself, stabbed repeatedly and left for dead. She had just returned to active duty when she was almost laid low with the news of Frankie.

    Same guy? Copy cat? or Someone totally separate?

    The brass at the Pasadena PD attempts to keep Nan out of this investigation, but Nan knows she is already in. Riddled with understandable fear and anxiety form her own near death eperience, she wills herself into finding the killer . . or killers.

    The tale is neatly spun and is particularly notable for the develoment of the characters. Nan emerges as courageous but subject to all manners of horrible imaginings. Is she being stalked for a second attempt? Who is pursuing whom?

    Her colleagues "on the job" are a diverse bunch and show wide ranges of moods and activity as they interact with each other. Somne are hard core crime fighters while others are "nine to fivers" looking longingly at "PT" - pension time. Ms Emley paints nicely human pictures of these folks.

    You will come to like Nan. She has all same desires as most of us. A little romance would be nice, a little peace is well received. Her ex is a bit of a bozo, but she takes that in stride

    One nice surprise is her teen age daughter who doubtless has the same fears as Nan, but is wonderfuly mature and supportive of her single mom. Nice to see some maturity in young America.

    The story is laced with great descriptive passages and thorough police work throughout. Ms. Emley obviously invested heavily in understanding cops, their work days, their habits and their ambitions and longings.
    Not to mention their many attitudes when confronting various types of folks. One gets the feeling that a good cop is especially good at reading people. While that shouldn't be surprising, it is well displayed by Ms. Emley as the cops pick up on things most of us would probably miss.

    It is a good story told with a gathering of forces and events to a
    fine ending.

    I look forward to more of Nan Vining.

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  • Posted September 13, 2009

    the first cut

    this was an excellent novel, it crabs your attention from start to finish. The suspence is too good. A very good thriller book. Must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Another great Julie Garwood book

    I like the way she keeps her characters in all of her books. A definate connection.

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  • Posted February 18, 2009

    What a ride

    This book grabbed me from the first word to the last sentence.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2007

    Keeps you reading!

    This book was very thrilling and suspenseful. I couldn't stop reading it until I found out what happened. The book is very realistic and the characters very real. The author writes great books and I hope she writes another book soon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2006

    Sorry to be the Book Basher

    I am an avid reader. I am never without a book. I saw this one in the library but I couldn't force myself through it. I know it got great reviews but it takes a lot for me not to finish a book and this one was too bad to get through. Sorry to author but maybe she can make her characters a little more likeable.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2007

    A Great Thriller

    Better start this book on a long weekend because you won't be able to put it down! It's a real page turner. I really felt 'a part of the action' as though I was walking in Detective Nan Vining's shoes. Dianne Emley creates great visual images--nail biting at times. Wonderful character development with witty insights into people's personalities. Very well written and clever narrative moves along at a crisp pace keeping the reader on edge wanting more. Can't wait for a sequel to this one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2006

    Amazing!

    I highly recommend this gripping suspense by Dianne Emley. It is definitely a book you will not want to put down until you have finished it! I eagerly await her next book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2006

    great mystery

    I'm not a mystery fan, so I was skeptical when I started reading Ms. Emley's book. However, her plot is enticing, her characterization is superb, so much so that they seemed like real people. She also scatters information about places and events throughout the book, which made it obvious that she did a lot of research. That made the story all the more believable. I could not put the book down and am waiting anxiously for the next installment to come out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2006

    A Real Page-Turner!

    'The First Cut' is a suspense thriller you won't be able to put down! Dianne Emley has crafted a novel of grisly crimes, monstrous criminals, and skillful and dedicated police detectives. Her characters are complex and come alive on the page. The story's locations are described in detail and give the reader a strong sense of place. The tension builds with each chapter until the shocking conclusion, as the first Nan Vining novels ends and the reader eagerly awaits the next installment!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2006

    dark urban noir police procedural

    Four Pasadena cops have been killed in the line of duty last year Detective Nan Vining came very close to having her name added to the list as an unknown assailant attacked her with a knife leaving her clinically dead for about two minutes. Physically the single mother of a teen has healed, mentally she fears interviewing strangers and entering unknown residences as any can trigger a panic attack especially since her adversary is still on the streets. --- Though her boss has some doubts assigning her to the slasher murder of undercover Los Angeles vice cop Frankie Lynde because of the similarities to Nan¿s near fatal incident, Vining insists on leading the investigation for that same reason. Vining knows from her visions and psychic link to the deceased cop that the killer, wealthy club owner John Lesley-and his wife Pussycat were having a ménage de trois with Lynde that leaves the investigating detective hot and bothersome with desire for her former lover Jim Kissick. However, proving to a jury that Lesley is the killer needs more than a mental discussion with a dead woman. One clue has been left behind by Lynde if Vining can retrieve it before she becomes Pasadena¿s number five. --- This urban noir police procedural with paranormal elements will grip readers who know early on that psychopath Lesley is the cop killer with a thirst for blood and wild sex. The action-packed story line turns into a cat and mouse game as Vining seeks proof while Lesley uses his spouse and others to insure the cop gets no closer to the truth even as he sets up his next victim. Though definitely dark, Dianne Emley's gripping thriller will take readers on the underside of society where money can hide illegal drug abuse and murder. --- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2006

    Thrills, suspense, twists, turns - keep the lights on while reading!

    This thriller debut by Dianne Emley not only should captivate the most devoted suspense and thriller reader, but it also offers dramatic insights to the workings and politics of a moderate size city police department. It also captures the struggles and dedicated professionalism of a woman police officer balancing her role as a single mom, law enforcement officer and the personal, emotional and psychic stress placed on her. The author's insights to these real life demands are woven into a highly readable, suspensful story that will want readers to keep turning the pages and anxiously awaiting a next book on Officer Nan Vining!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2006

    The First Cut is First Rate

    In this keen and well crafted murder mystery, author Dianne Emley leads the reader on a suspenseful journey through the often gritty and dangerous world of police work, while at the same time adeptly exposing the psychological complexity of its main character, Detective Nan Vining. Following a brutal ambush which leaves Vining dead for several minutes, a period of recovery finds the protagonist questioning her resolve as a mother and as a cop. A personal sense of safety for both herself and her daughter is further stripped way by the always present possibility that her attacker, as yet to be apprehended, will come back to complete his handiwork. Detective Vining¿s first assignment when returning to work finds her juxtaposition to the battered body of an LAPD policewoman, triggering eerie, yet realistic otherworldly visions. Emley superbly portrays the internal struggle experienced by Vining, who wrestles with whether to accept these visions as manifestations of her heightened anxiety as precipitated by the attack, or the real possibility that the dead policewoman, in some form of camaraderie, is indeed speaking to her and helping guide the investigation. Navigating the tension between these two potentialities permits the reader to walk in tandem with Detective Vining. The reader continues to follow Vining through a number of thrilling twists and turns up to the surprise ending. All and all, The First Cut is first rate. Dianne Emley has introduced us readers to not only intriguing characters and a finely developed plot, but has allowed us to share the haunting, yet very real world of Detective Nan Vining. I¿m eager to see where Vining takes us next.

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    Posted July 12, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2010

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