DEVIL WITHIN by James L’Etoile
SERIES: The Nathan Parker Detective Series #2
GENRE: Police Procedural/Thriller (General Market)
PUBLISHER: Level Best Books
RELEASE DATE: July 18, 2023
The border is a hostile place with searing heat and venomous serpents. Yet the deadliest predator targets the innocent.
A sniper strikes in the Valley of the Sun and Detective Nathan Parker soon finds a connection between the victims—each of them had a role in an organization founded to help undocumented migrants make the dangerous crossing. Parker discovers no one is exactly who they seem.
There’s the devil you know and then there’s the devil within—when the two collide, no one is safe.
Devil Within is the sequel to the Anthony and Lefty Award nominated Dead Drop.
Other Books In This Series
Devil Within is my first experience reading a book by James L’Etoile, and I was drawn to it from the first line – “Nia Saldana didn’t think today would be the day she died.” – and captivated by the end of the first chapter. An undocumented young mother driving home after a long day at work cleaning upscale houses, anxious about having snooped in her employer’s office. A black SUV cuts her off in traffic, and two pops later the SUV careens into the guardrail, the driver slumped over, while Nina’s sedan is shoved into incoming traffic and a desperately-trying-to-stop semi. Whew. Caught your breath yet? That’s how I felt reading the first few paragraphs of this story, and I knew I needed to see where it all led.
Devil Within is part police procedural and part suspense novel, as readers follow Detective Nathan Parker and his team (and their connections) in a race against time where the stakes become more personal by the minute. It seems like every lead they chase down results in more questions raised than there were dots connected, and Parker’s frustration and urgency is tangible as the story progresses. He is a likable protagonist (though Billie was my fave character, hands down) with an even-keel personality, despite the frustration and urgency I just mentioned. The author’s ability to weave several random threads together into a cohesive and riveting plot is definitely to be commended, and my brain whirred with possibilities from beginning to end. I tried to stay ahead of the investigation, and sometimes I was (and hollering at the book for Parker not to forget xyz), but other times I didn’t see the next revelation coming. This always makes for an enjoyable suspense read for me, and it kept me on my toes for sure.
Bottom Line: Devil Within by James L’Etoile is an engaging suspense novel with intricate layers and plenty of twists and turns to leave readers engrossed. It also raises awareness of important immigration and human trafficking issues that we need to be talking about more, whether we live in a border town or not. I thought the story perhaps could have been wrapped up sooner as there were several times the energy seemed to be ramping up to a big resolution only for me to realize there was still over an hour (or more) left in the book. But overall I was invested in the outcome and felt satisfied in how everything played out in the end. It would read well as a standalone, but I also got the sense that some things could maybe come back into play in future books. I don’t know that I will keep following the series (since I prefer books without moderate cursing) but I’m also intrigued and could very well be persuaded to read more.
Reviewer’s Note: Because I typically only review reads that include little to no cursing, readers of this blog may want to be aware that there are several ‘stronger’ curse words and a couple of profanities used in this book. BUT I will also add that there are large stretches of text without any strong language, so while I would call the cursing level and extent ‘moderate’, I wouldn’t say it was completely saturated.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / enjoyed it!
James L’Etoile uses his twenty-nine years behind bars as an influence in his award-winning novel, short stories, and screenplays. He is a former associate warden in a maximum-security prison, a hostage negotiator, and director of California’s state parole system. Black Label earned the Silver Falchion for Best Book by an Attending Author at Killer Nashville and he was nominated for The Bill Crider Award for short fiction. His most recent novel is the Anthony and Lefty Award nominated Dead Drop. Look for Devil Within and Face of Greed, both coming in 2023.
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