Series Review: FBI Strange Crimes Unit series by Jessica R. Patch

Posted June 16, 2024 by meezcarrie in 5 stars, Book Review, Christian, contemporary, Jessica R. Patch, mystery/suspense, romance / 3 Comments


FBI Strange Crimes Unit series book review

Y’all. All three books in the FBI Strange Crimes Unit series by Jessica R Patch completely mesmerized me. I was glued to the pages and read them back to back because I could not stop. I love psychological thrillers, and Patch is a master at this genre! These books are SO GOOD!! I’m still thinking about them, weeks after reading them. If you love the TV show Criminal Minds, you’ll love these books but they’re so much more than that comparison too.

Her Darkest Secret by Jessica R. PatchHER DARKEST SECRET by Jessica R. Patch
SERIES:
FBI Strange Crimes Unit #1

GENRE: Psychological Thriller (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Love Inspired Trade
RELEASE DATE: June 28, 2022
PAGES: 349

When a cold-case serial killer returns, FBI special agent Fiona Kelly has one last chance to stop him before he claims the prize he’s always wanted—her.

The sight of a goose feather at a murder scene modeled after a children’s poem is enough to make FBI special agent Fiona Kelly’s blood turn to ice. Almost two decades ago, a feather was left with her sister’s body—and with every subsequent victim of the Nursery Rhyme Killer. Now he’s back. Only this time, his latest gruesome murder is a message to the only one who ever got away: Fiona.

Finding “Rhyme” is an obsession that’s fueled Fiona’s career—and destroyed her marriage to fellow FBI agent Asa Kodiak. Now Fiona and Asa have to put their past tensions aside and work together one last time. But Rhyme is watching, and catching this killer may force Fiona to reveal her biggest, darkest secret…the one only he knows.

 

Buckle up, dear readers, because Jessica R Patch delivers one stunning surprise after another in Her Darkest Secret! Like the master storyteller that she is, Patch reveals several compelling layers to the characters and the serial killer and the case itself, one at a time, at just the right moment to keep you hanging on every word. A truly evil serial killer – who is more complex than first appears (like so many things in this riveting novel) – meets his match in the victim that got away, a survivor turned FBI special agent determined to take him down if it’s the last thing she does. (And it may very well be.) Fiona’s obsession with the Nursery Rhyme Killer (oooo doesn’t that nickname make you shiver with all the creepy possibilities?!?) has already cost her on a deeply personal level, and his obsession with her may cost her even more dearly before all is said and done. This game of cat-and-mouse stole my breath on multiple occasions, and the times the killer gets waaaaay too close for comfort had my heart skipping several beats. I was so invested in this story that I’m sure anyone watching me read would have been highly entertained at my facial expressions throughout. I’m also pretty sure I literally jumped a couple of times… so there’s that. haha!

I loved, loved, loved Fiona’s “former” team. They are the best of the best when it comes to solving strange crimes, each person adding a different layer of expertise to the mix, and their dynamics are like a loud, crazy family that’s simultaneously overwhelming and lovable. Patch’s trademark humor comes through often in the team members’ interactions with each other, giving readers some lighthearted respites from the intensity of the serial killer investigation and the horror that character embodies. Ty and Owen quickly became favorites of mine for their manchild banter, yes, but also for their friendship and their willingness to be there for each other and the rest of the team in a heartbeat. Violet is another fave of mine (she reminds me of Detective Rosa Diaz from the TV show Brooklyn 99), but honestly I loved them all… and I especially adored the still-there passion and chemistry between Fiona and Asa, even with all the hurt between them. Oh – and I also really appreciated Asa’s newfound faith in Jesus and determination to – with His help – live as a new creation, making a marked difference that Fiona can see in him right away.

Bottom Line: Her Darkest Secret by Jessica R Patch is chilling and creepy and compelling – an alliteration trifecta that, when added together with Patch’s masterful plotting (complete with several surprises!), layered character development, and thoughtful faith notes, produces a novel you will eagerly lose yourself in from start to finish. There is deep darkness and brokenness portrayed in this story, yes, but there is also goodness and healing – and the presence of the Light of the world shining into that same darkness. This is the hope we have as followers of Jesus – light in the darkness – and Patch reflects that so well on these pages without sacrificing the tension of the suspense. Absolutely wonderful read in every way!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. In the interest of full disclosure, the company I freelance for as a blog/review tour coordinator was hired to promote this book with a blog tour in 2022. This in no way affected my review. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 5 stars / in a class by itself

KissingBook Level: 3+ / will forget to breathe on occasion

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A Cry in the Dark by Jessica R. PatchA CRY IN THE DARK by Jessica R. Patch
SERIES:
FBI Strange Crimes Unit #2

GENRE: Psychological Thriller (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Love Inspired Trade
RELEASE DATE: February 28, 2023
PAGES: 373

Deep in the Kentucky hills, three women have been found brutalized and murdered.
But the folks in Night Holler have their own ways and their own laws.
And they’re not talking…

Led to an isolated Appalachian Mountain town by a trail of disturbing murders, FBI special agent Violet Rainwater’s determined to catch a serial killer with a twisted agenda. With locals refusing to reveal their secrets, Violet’s only ally is Detective John Orlando. But even John has an ulterior motive—he’s convinced this case is connected to his wife’s murder.

As they dig deeper, Violet uncovers a link to her own unresolved past. For years she’s worked the cold case of her mother’s abduction, which had led to her birth. The need to look into the eyes of the sinful man who fathered her consumes Violet. Until she can, she’ll never have peace. Because she’s terrified she might be exactly like him.

In this chilling novel, when the present collides with Violet’s mysterious past and John’s tragic loss, they must unravel the warped, sinuous connections before the killer strikes again. But solving the case might not be nearly as terrifying as the possibility that Violet’s finally found her roots…

 

I dove right into A Cry in the Dark immediately after finishing Her Darkest Secret because I needed to know more of Violet’s story. And it was so much more nuanced – brilliantly so – than I ever would have imagined. Not to mention how unique it is from the first book, nothing formulaic here! The killer(s), the murders, the layers, the setting – all of it is distinct from Her Darkest Secret while staying just as layered and complex and impossible to put down. This one is a bit more gory too, so if you have a vivid imagination and picture what you’re reading like I do (and are easily grossed out), you may want to read parts of the story by peeking through your fingers. It wasn’t too much for me (I’ve seen some really disturbing true crime shows lol), was kept to only a necessary minimum, and didn’t feel gratuitous, and I thought Patch did an outstanding job (as usual) of balancing the darkness with the Light.

I continue to love this team of agents who investigate strange crimes, and while Ty is probably my favorite, Violet remains the most intriguing to me. Her dry humor contrasts with her reserved demeanor and matter-of-fact delivery, making you (and the other characters) squint a little as you try to figure out if she was joking or serious. The more I learned of her story in A Cry in the Dark – born into a nightmare and raised completely without love but saturated in guilt and fear – the more my heart opened up to her and the more I longed for her to know the love of a good, good Father. This line – No one had ever prayed for her.” – nearly broke me but oh, Violet’s journey toward community and her Heavenly Father is so exquisitely tender. I caught glimpses of her softer side in Her Darkest Secret but as John and his adorable daughter begin to chip away at her walls I loved watching Violet soften even more – without completely losing the edge that makes her distinctively ‘her’.

Bottom Line: A Cry in the Dark by Jessica R Patch has it all – high-stakes suspense, surprising twists, a deliciously creepy inn, compelling character arcs, layered faith themes, and even some sweet romance (which you know I’m here for). The case is chilling and gruesome, and the clan mentality that rules some areas of Appalachia added to the feeling that the killer(s) could have been anyone. Combined with some ‘everyone knows about it but no one is talking about it’ local criminal enterprises … and the stunning links to Violet’s past… and the ever-present sense of danger … needless to say, I was captivated by every word. To add icing on the cake, Patch takes Violet on an authentic journey toward Jesus, one that is refreshingly devoid of pat answers and not afraid to wrestle with the tough stuff. Another complete winner in this series!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. In the interest of full disclosure, the company I freelance for as a blog/review tour coordinator was hired to promote this book with a social media tour in 2023. This in no way affected my review. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 5 stars / fantastic in every way

KissingBook Level: 3 / may forget to breathe on occasion

affiliate links used


The Garden Girls by Jessica R. PatchTHE GARDEN GIRLS by Jessica R. Patch
SERIES:
FBI Strange Crimes Unit #3

GENRE: Psychological Thriller (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Love Inspired Trade
RELEASE DATE: April 23, 2024
PAGES: 367

On a remote Outer Banks island, a serial killer collects his prized specimens. And to stop him, an FBI agent must confront his own twisted past.

FBI agent Tiberius Granger has seen his share of darkness. But a new case sets him on edge. It’s not just the macabre way both victims—found posed in front of lighthouses—are tattooed with flowers that match their names. There’s also the unsettling connection to the woman Ty once loved and to the shadowy cult they both risked everything to escape.

Bexley Hemmingway’s sister has gone missing, and she’ll do anything to find her—including teaming up with Ty. That may prove a mistake, and not just because Ty doesn’t know he’s the father of her teenaged son. It seems the killer is taunting Ty, drawing everyone close to him into deeper danger.

As the slashing winds and rain of a deadly hurricane approach the coast of North Carolina, the search leads Ty and Bex to an island that hides a grisly secret. But in his quest for the truth, Ty has ignored the fact that this time, he’s not just the hunter. Every move has been orchestrated by a killer into a perfect storm of terror, and they will need all their skills to survive…

 

Oh y’all. I have been waiting for Ty’s story. And I knew it would be amazing. But I wasn’t prepared for how emotional it would be, for how I would literally sob through a couple parts of this novel. The Garden Girls is a story that touched me on so many different levels, some I’m not even finished processing yet. And then the fascinating layers to this particular serial killer case, its very personal connection to Ty (in more ways than one), and the sweet, second chance romance with its own complex layers… ahhhhhhh!!! Truly in a class by itself.

I’ve loved Ty from the beginning of this series, and my love for him only grew as I read The Garden Girls. Behind Ty’s ‘devil-may-care’ and ‘a-joke-for-every-situation’ personality lies a hurting heart, and his specialization in religious behavioral analysis (while dismissing any faith of his own) makes so much more sense as we uncover the layers to his backstory. The work that God does in his life through the events of this book is heartwrenching and messy and moving and my favorite yet. Which I could actually say about the whole book, to be honest… heartwrenching and messy and moving and my favorite yet. And the way this team bands together for Ty… I may not recover from it, and I’m not sure I even want to. This is friendship goals, and no truer picture of great love.

The serial killer in The Garden Girls is possibly the most disturbing of the series… though they are all pretty twisted. In fact, for the majority of the book, we’re not even sure whether it’s multiple serial killers whose paths have crossed… a copycat… or just one who is changing his M.O. to psychologically torture Ty even further. Between that and some truly pull-the-rug-out-from-underneath-me twists that had me gasping out loud, I couldn’t have put down this novel if I’d wanted to. Getting into a victim’s head during her ordeal, even more than we have in the previous books, not only amped up the high-stakes tension that stretches tautly across the suspense arc, but it also gave us a different perspective on the serial killer(s)’ mind in the process. I’m telling you – don’t expect to stop reading until you’ve reached the very last word of this one, so carve out a good chunk of time before you start.

Bottom Line: Jessica R Patch gets better and better and better, and The Garden Girls is hands down one of her best. The evil in these pages is horrifying and demented (as evil often is), but the contrasting redemption in these pages is life-giving. Through an incredibly brilliant plot (which will keep you on the edge of your seat and barely daring to breathe) and equally brilliant character development, the author uses a riveting story to tell an even greater one – about One who sees us at our worst yet loves us infinitely better than anyone else ever could… One who will one day redeem this broken world and exchange it for a place where sin, death, and darkness no longer exist. I finished this book in complete awe of Patch’s talent, and I highly recommend this whole series!

(I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book which I purchased for my own collection. In the interest of full disclosure, the company I freelance for as a blog/review tour coordinator was hired to promote this book with a blog and social media tour in 2024. This in no way affected my review. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 5 stars / in a class by itself!!!

KissingBook Level: 3+ / will forget to breathe on occasion

affiliate links used

Jessica R. Patch guest post


Jessica R. Patch

Jessica R. Patch is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author known for her dry wit, signatures twists, and complex characters. She loves reading true crime books, discussing cold cases over chips and salsa with her girlfriends, and hunting down serial killers in her romantic suspense novels and psychological thrillers.

Jessica loves to encourage and inspire people to forward living devotionals through her monthly email newsletter. You can join the Patched In community at her website.

She resides in the Memphis area with her husband and her spoiled tri-color Shetland Sheepdog since becoming empty nesters. Jessica is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Management.

Other Recently Featured Books by Jessica R. Patch

Cold Case Revenge by Jessica R. Patch  Crime Scene Conspiracy by Jessica R. Patch  Cold Case Target by Jessica R. Patch


What about you? What makes you want to read the FBI Strange Crimes Unit series by Jessica R. Patch?

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3 responses to “Series Review: FBI Strange Crimes Unit series by Jessica R. Patch

  1. Trudy

    I’ve read quite a few of her other books, and LOVED them!! I’d love to read these, too!!!

  2. Jessica Baker

    Oh this series in one of my favs! I need to read Garden Girls, but the first two were AMAZING!

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