The Dead Key, Cover, D.M. Pulley, book review

A Sly Surprise – The Dead Key, D.M. Pulley

I received this book as part of the Amazon First Read program the same month that I received Simon Wood’s book.  They were giving away two that month, though I can’t remember why.  This book was a mystery/thriller, with the setting alternating between 1978 and 1998.  During each year a strong female with some connection to an old bank in Cleveland made discoveries about the corruption within it, and their lives became interwoven across generations.

I have to say I felt a little surprised by this book.  After my experience with The One That Got Away, I wasn’t holding out any hope for what I would get from Amazon First Reads, but this writer has real potential.

The Dead Key, D.M. Pulley, Book ReviewThe book wasn’t phenomenal, but it was certainly good.  Pulley did a nice job with the discoveries that occurred in 1978 happening alongside those in 1998.  She demonstrated the parallel lives of the women without throwing the symbolism in your face, and though they were discovering much of the same information the book rarely felt overly repetitive.

In fact, it was actually gripping.  I was surprised to find myself staying up at night wanting to read a little bit more, wondering how it was going to end.  And where plot is concerned, I think Pulley did a good job leading up to her ending and putting the pieces together.  Her surprises were sly.  I am always down for a good grift or corruption story, and this fit that bill – the story itself was in fact well-played and thought out.

The writing, however, could use some work.  Once the final discovery was made, Pulley allowed the book to go on for about 3 chapters longer than it should have.  She clearly felt the need to answer questions that would have been better left as question marks.  Her characters grew overly verbose in the end, and most of her dialogue was poorly done.  In fact, even the inner monologue sometimes felt annoying at best.

D.M. Pulley, About the Author, The Dead Key Book Review

D.M. Pulley

It was the little things that you notice when you’re an avid reader: this sentence structure is poor.  This chapter was unnecessary.  Give your reader some credit. You are making this character look stupid because these puzzle pieces aren’t too difficult and should come together a little faster.    What purpose did that sexual narrative play and why did you include it if it didn’t serve your story?  It’s like I wanted to sit down with Pulley and a red pen and explain all the ways she could have made this amazing, because the skeletal framework was more than there.

What’s funny is I read this at the same time as The Luckiest Girl Alive, and the authors seemed to have opposite problems.  Pulley knew how to tell a story but needs to work on the development of her writing.  Knoll, who wrote Luckiest Girl Alive, wrote beautifully but needed to reel back on her plot.

Still, as first books go, I don’t think this one was terrible.  If you’re able to access a copy inexpensively or for free, I would recommend giving it a read.  More likely, I would recommend to look out for what she writes in the future.  This was her first go at it as an indie author, and I would love to see what she churns out once she has honed her craft.


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