Homicide detective Nan Vining finds her world rocked when a murder investigation becomes chillingly personal in this hard-edged thriller for fans of Patricia Cornwell, Tana French, and Lisa Gardner.
In a breathtaking infinity pool on a sprawling Pasadena estate, the naked body of a beautiful young woman floats facedown in a drift of rose petals blowing on the breeze. Police sergeant Jim Kissick responds instantly, pulling the dead victim from the water. When his longtime girlfriend, Detective Nan Vining, arrives on-scene, she’s full of questions, and not just about the Jane Doe. Why did the homeowner text Jim instead of calling 911? Jim’s explanation—that he’s simply an old friend of Teddy and Rebecca Sexton’s—doesn’t sit well with Nan. A survivor of a bizarre murder attempt herself, Nan’s instincts for deception are acute. She senses that they’re all hiding something—including Jim, which plunges a wedge deep into their once steadfast relationship.
Then a drought-ravaged lake in a bucolic Central California town reveals a grisly secret. Soon two local detectives arrive in Pasadena to interview Jim and his wealthy friends about a mysterious death from years back, and Nan realizes she has good reasons for her suspicions. Jim’s always been her rock, but suddenly he’s become a stranger. And once Nan identifies her Jane Doe, events careen out of control as darkness from the past threatens to consume the life that Nan has worked so hard to rebuild.
Look for all of Dianne Emley’s riveting Nan Vining Mysteries:
THE FIRST CUT | CUT TO THE QUICK | THE DEEPEST CUT | LOVE KILLS | KILLING SECRETS | LYING BLIND
“The First Cut should immediately establish Dianne Emley in the front ranks of thriller writers.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly
“Stunningly good! The First Cut hurtles the reader down a razor’s edge of suspense to the final, shattering end.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner
“Emley masterfully twists, turns, and shocks.”—New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen, on Love Kills
“Killing Secrets is diabolically good, a top-notch murder mystery. Nan Vining is a heroine you’ll love.”—New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan
Praise for Lying Blind
“Another first-rate police procedure that follows the investigations led by the strong, dedicated, and very sharp Detective Nan Vining.”—Kings River Life
“Boasting a wonderful cast of characters and engaging dialogue, this book kept me enraptured from beginning to end.”—Dru’s Book Musings
“[Dianne] Emley once again continues to deftly bring Vining to life in a way that rings true.”—Elizabeth A. White Book Reviews
“Fans of plucky heroines will enjoy this.”—Littoral Librarian
“Another phenomenal installment to this series! . . . There were many twists and surprises in this novel that kept me guessing right up until the shocking ending!”—Red Wine and Books
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The nude woman floated facedown in an infinity pool, her pleasing curves caressed by pink rose petals, which an errant Santa Ana wind gust, blowing hard and hot, had tossed atop the water from the nearby bushes like stolen kisses. The hilltop setting took advantage of wraparound views across Pasadena and Los Angeles. The blue hues of the pool’s glass tiles cast the water in the same color as the clear blue sky, creating the illusion of a waterfall flowing over the edge of the world. A submerged rim kept the woman from going over, but the artificial current made a gauzy curtain of her long blond hair and carried along the paper-light rose petals, paler in color than her reddened fair skin, descending into the churning water of a catch basin below.
Sergeant Jim Kissick was panting after his mad sprint up a steep gravel path across the estate’s back gardens to the upper terrace. Still, he sucked in a breath and held it when he set eyes on the woman, and stood frozen for crucial moments. He had a seasoned cop’s conceit of believing he’d seen everything, but he grimaced even though this scene wasn’t especially grisly. He snapped back into action and keyed the radio mic on the shoulder of his uniform, struggling to calm his voice and not betray the panic that surged inside his chest. “I need an RA unit and backup to respond to my location for a female who’s been facedown in a backyard swimming pool at the residence for an unknown time.”
With his thumbs, he flipped open his belt keepers, dropped his utility belt to the ground, and kicked off his soft-soled oxfords. Right before he leaped, instinct made him whip his head around to see a blind man, who was holding the harness of a guide dog, and a second man all heading up the packed gravel path toward the pool.
Kissick muttered a curse, wasting time to stop and yell at the blind man, “Teddy, sit back down at that table!” He jutted his index finger toward a patio outside a hulking mansion in the distance and again took off, not waiting to see whether Teddy Sexton would obey, assuming he probably wouldn’t. Jim’s long legs made short work of the hilltop retreat’s travertine pavers, his eyes fixed on the floating woman, her golden hair, and the rippling water shining in the last light of the early October afternoon. Nearing the pool, he saw what looked like a little blood in the water—or maybe it was the imperfect pink of some of the rose petals, which had a streak of crimson at the base.
Even though the athletic sergeant, who was in his forties, was focused and fast, he felt the uncanny but not unfamiliar sensation he’d experienced during extreme stress of being detached from his body while time slowed down. At the water’s edge, he observed himself raising his hands above his head and diving in. For a moment, he felt suspended in the air above the water, supported by an act of God or the devil or by memories of lost love and the enduring sting of regret. Certainly, after more than two decades had passed, he thought he’d moved beyond it, yet here he was, mesmerized by its power to hold him between what had been and what was about to come.
His gaze was drawn toward the silky hair undulating in the water and he remembered as if it were yesterday, running his fingers through that hair, burying his face in it, and inhaling its perfume. Becca’s hair had always smelled perfumed. She’d told him the only thing she ever put in it was coconut-scented shampoo, the cheap store brand. Just over two decades ago, they were college students—he at UCLA and she at Santa Monica College—and always broke. Shampoo didn’t explain why her hair kept its unique fragrance even when it was briny with ocean water and gritty with sand after a day swimming and sunning at Will Rogers State Beach. After, they’d make love in his room in a Westwood apartment, halfheartedly trying to stifle their cries, him sheepish when coming out to face his two male roommates while Becca, glowing and smelling of sex and finding it all hilarious, sashayed to the fridge and took out two Coronas. Jim had thought everything about her was wonderful. He couldn’t get enough of her. Then tragedy struck and he had to let her go.
Jim hit the water and swam to the floating woman. Grabbing her from behind, he raised her head from the water and hooked his left arm around her chest, bracing her against him. There was blood in the water beneath her, though not a lot. The recirculating pump had likely diluted it. He swam to the shallow end, stroking with his free arm and frog-kicking his legs, his body weighted down by his saturated Kevlar vest, T-shirt, and uniform. When his feet touched bottom, he grabbed her beneath her armpits, clasped his hands across her chest, and hoisted her from the water while clambering up the pool steps. Now on the pool deck, he turned her to face the travertine and slapped her back to knock water from her mouth and throat.
Placing her on her back, he saw her face for the first time and again had that disorienting detached feeling, which he shook off, not letting it slow him down. He did a snapshot assessment of her injuries while feeling for a pulse on her neck. Her nose was smashed, flattened toward the right, swollen purple and red. That injury seemed to be the source of the blood, because he didn’t see other wounds beyond an abrasion and bruising on her left cheek. She didn’t appear to have been in the water long.
He didn’t detect a pulse and began CPR, letting his years of training take over, ignoring the questions in his mind and everything that was dissonant with what he’d expected. He focused on rhythmically compressing her chest with one hand atop the other, stopping periodically to breathe into her mouth between her icy lips, trying to restart her heart while feeling in his gut that it was futile. He heard distant sirens growing louder and whining to a stop, followed by the organized hustling of the first responders with their equipment. Jim kept up the CPR, relieved at the thought of turning over this thankless job to others. Let someone else pronounce her dead.
When he again rose up to resume compressing her chest, he’d regained sufficient composure to take a good look at her damaged face and process what he’d instinctively known from the moment he’d grabbed her in the water. This woman was not Rebecca, his Becca, who’d been long married to Teddy Sexton. The dead woman was at least twenty years younger than Rebecca’s age today, but she looked so much like Becca, she could be her sister or even a daughter. Becca didn’t have either as far as Jim knew, but he’d come to learn that his long-lost love had unplumbed depths. As he rhythmically and hopelessly worked to restart the victim’s heart, staring at her eyes beneath partially closed lids—milky in death, but he imagined that in life they matched Becca’s pale blue—an old saying of his grandmother’s came to him. He wondered if one of Becca’s chickens had come home to roost.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Author Dianne Emley once again brings to the reader a riveting narrative that encompasses all the elements that make a great mystery. Her main characters, Detectives Nan Vining and Jim Kissick, offer an intriguing view into the world of law enforcement while still humanizing their personal and romantic reality. The complexity of the plot will keep the readers turning each page to see what new development impacts the ongoing investigation into this high profile murder. While traveling from Southern California to the Central Coast one cannot help but to experience the intricacies of the California experience and how interrelated the character’s past can still find their troublesome way into the present. A must read for readers who want a truly engaging murder mystery.
Best of the series! Very disappointed in Jim and several times I wanted to knock him upside the head, won't be a spoiler.
This was okay for me. I've read better books by this author. It was pretty much a given who the girl in the pool was killed by. That was a no brainier. The reason why was bigger. I just kept telling myself all along while reading this, that you can see right through this. At the end when Jim takes Becca to the restaurant, he knows the answers he's going to get. It's like he's hoping for something else. And then all these lies and stuff, like I said, the author has written way much better books. The whole thing just didn't sit right with me. Thanks to Alibi Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read the free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Dianne Emley, and Random House Publishing Group - Alibi in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all, for sharing your hard work with me. This was a good police procedural, one of a series but stand alone, peopled with empathetic folks that you can immediately feel comfortable with. Nan Vining is a good cop, a thoughtful mom, a loyal friend. Jim is a man who has suffered much but is still that cop you want to have your back. They have their work cut out for them, teasing out this 25 year old mystery that changed the lives of all who lived it, that nightmare night at Lake Nacimiento. The pacing on this novel is excellent, it's location central California, a fast read that is hard to put down. I am pleased to have found Dianne Emley. She is an author I will follow.
An exciting story that includes suspense and romance as the murder of a young woman in the present becomes linked with the disappearance of a young woman in the past. If you are into fashion, the book includes descriptions of the clothing worn by almost everyone in the story. The descriptions help to define the characters and humanize them. Despite the many clues along the way, I was surprised at the ending as the murderer was unveiled. The book is easy to read and hard to put down.
It's been 6 years since the beginning book of this series, FIRST CUT, featuring Detective Nan Vining. It's been 2 years since the 5th book, KILLING SECRETS. It's been a long wait ... but one well worth waiting for. Detective Nan VIning is called out to investigate the drowning death of a young woman found in the pool of a very rich blind man and his wife. They say they do not know who this woman is or how she got into the pool, but she looks very much like the wife. Nan's longtime lover, Sgt Jim Kissick of the LAPD is the first person they call. And when Nan questions him about his connection to these people, he gets upset and defensive. Evidently he has a past with this man's wife and still has feelings for her. Nan is very hurt by his request for a "time out' from their relationship but continues her investigation which leads to the disappearance of a college student 20 years previously. Her remains have just been found, with Jim's motorcycle on top of the body beneath the lake water. Nan feels that they all know much more than they are telling. Other than Jim, there are more connections between the two cases. Partnering with Luke Buckhart of the San Luis PD they need to sift through all the lies and secrets to solve both crimes. This is such a well-written series. I've been following the author since her very first book. I'm always so eager when a new one comes out. This is another of those series that I highly recommend be read in order, although this one does well as a stand-alone. There are references to the previous book, but no major spoilers. Man many thanks to the author / Random House Publishing Group - Alibi / Negalley for the Advance Reader's Copy. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.