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Brenda Chapman
Blind Date - A Hunter and Tate Mystery
True crime podcaster Ella Tate is shaken to her core by the horrific assault and murder of Josie Wheatly, a teacher she has never met … because not only had Josie moved into Ella’s vacated apartment three months earlier, but her Facebook photos reveal a striking resemblance between the two women. Within days, two people close to Ella are harmed, and she fears that she’s become the target of twisted revenge from her crime-reporting days. Reluctantly teaming up with her neighbour Tony, a hairdresser who loves the finer things in life, and Liam Hunter, the persistent detective assigned to the cases, Ella struggles to stay one step ahead before she becomes the target of the final kill.
In this taut, accomplished thriller, Canadian author and former teacher Chapman (Tumbled Graves) opens with a wrenching mystery: did Josie Wheatley, the woman who moved into Ella Tate’s old apartment die by suicide after her rape, or was she murdered? Ella, a true crime reporter turned popular podcaster, is determined to find out, with the help of a mysterious online contact called Felix. As Ella investigates Josie’s death, the body count rises—with victims including Ella’s drug-addicted brother Danny, who was sexually assaulted by a neighbor as a child, and others close to her.

Ella and Detective Liam Hunter try to uncover a link between the killings and keep the body count from multiplying—before someone comes after them. Readers will warm to Ella’s sincere interest in the fight against good and evil, her dogged determination to find justice for her longtime friend and her brother, and Chapman’s expert handling of the material, which never loses sight of the human stakes in favor of thrills. Detective Hunter, meanwhile, is a bit more mysterious than his unexpected partner, especially as he enters Ella’s life, though readers will soon expect that he’s one of the good guys. As well, Chapman’s cast of supporting characters—especially Ella’s flamboyant neighbor Tony, who ultimately plays a key role in the outcome—shine.

Lively pacing, a plausible plot, and crisp, forward-moving prose will attract a wide variety of thriller lovers. Mystery fans will be engrossed in trying to work out the identity of the bad guy (or is there more than one?) from a well-developed cast of likely characters, but Chapman’s skillful plotting— complete with numerous tantalizing red herrings—power the narrative, keeping readers guessing until the final page is turned. Ella and Hunter make a memorable pair, and readers will look forward to future installments of their adventures.

Takeaway: This taut and well-written mystery/thriller will keep even the savviest amateur sleuths guessing up until the tale’s end.

Great for fans of: Mary Higgins Clark, Karen Rose, Kay Hooper.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A