Sweet After Death

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

First Sentence:  The woods pressed into the town from all sides.
The tiny town of Ludlow, Washington, near the border with Canada, has never had a murder, until now. The police department of three--Sherriff Will Sangster, and Deputies Hockley and Kupitz—is out of its depth, so Sergeant Kevin Brown, CSI Amy Sorenson, and Detective Alice Madison fly in from Seattle.  Nothing about this case is straight-forward, especially when a second murder occurs with a completely different M.O. and was clearly the work of a professional.  And who left the scrawled note of "Help me" in the office of one of the victims.
Ignoring the prologue, whose information could have been incorporated later, one could read Chapter 1, which provides atmosphere, skip Chapter 2, which has no real relevance to the current story, and move on to Chapter 3, which is when one meets the characters and learns of their backgrounds.  Happily, things improve significantly from there on;  so much so that one comes to the view that if one hasn't read Giambanco before, one might wonder as to why not.
The author has a wonderful voice with just the right note of dry humor—"They had gone to school together, and their families had known each other for a long time; because of this Hockley could swear, hand on his heart, that Jay Kupitz had all the sense of a bag of jam nuts."
Giambanco creates a very good sense of underlying threat.  As with any town, there are secrets, and in a very small town, those secrets have an even greater significance.  Samuel, from the prologue, is pivotal to one of those secrets and becomes a very interesting character. 
Although one may not usually be a fan of backstory told through memories, Alice's is so well done and interesting one can't help but being interested and liking the character all the more. The information conveyed explains a lot about the person she has become.  However, the two pages of background information printed in italics could have been handled differently, but for that one should blame the publisher, not the author.
Each of the characters is strong and most are people one would want to know.  Not one of them is superfluous or flat.   One will particularly appreciate the epilogue, although it is not so named, and the end of Alice's story.
"Sweet After Death" takes one on an amazing ride, increasing the tension and danger, and surprising the readers with both the identity of the killer and the motive in a way which is very well done.  There are subtle twists and one can appreciate that the forensic information is as fascinating as is the logical progression of the physical investigation.        
SWEET AFTER DEATH (Pol Proc-Det. Alice Madison-Washington St.- Contemp. – VG+
      Giambanco, Valentina (aka V.M. Giambanco)
      Quercus – Aug 2018
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SWEET AFTER DEATH By Valentina Giambanco

I have read other novels by this writer in particular the first two in this series. It revolves around Detective Alice Madison and her partner Kevin Brown as well as crime scene investigator Amy Sorensen. A local doctor was found dead with his hands bound behind him and inside a burning car. This was the first murder for this small town so thy asked for assistance. While this is book number 4, you can read it as a stand-alone novel. The writer includes enough history about the characters for the reader without going in too far to bore the reader. This is well written with a great deal of knowledge in police work and the characters are very likeable and you will actually root for them. This is a very gripping thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end. I certainly recommend this book to anyone who loves thrillers.
I give this a 5++ stars ⭐️ out of 5

Thank you to netgalley as well as the author for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
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I was given an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sweet After Death is a tense and atmospheric thriller perfect for anyone that loves procedurals but is looking for something a little different. While this is Book 4, the author does a great job framing for people jumping right in, but not so deep those familiar with the series would feel bored. Great character development and pacing throughout the novel, keeping you on the edge of your seat as the investigators in an unprecedented crime become targets, racing to solve the mystery before they become a part of it.
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I love mysteries and crime novels set in the Pacific Northwest, so I was happy to learn about this series. It's exactly the kind of thing I like, including a likable but complicated protagonist in Alice Madison and a very specific setting,  This is book 4, and I haven't read the earlier ones, so I'll have to catch up soon. In Sweet After Death, I enjoyed the small town Washington setting and the complexity of the crimes and trying to solve them by characters I liked getting to know. The flashbacks of young Alice are creepier than I'm comfortable with generally, and the scary separatist plotline also freaks me out because it's so realistic for the region. Still, I liked this and would recommend it.
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Sweet After Death is another entry in the Alice Madison detective series. I admit that initially I was drawn to this series because the books take place in Washington State where I lived for many years. But after reading a few pages, I was hooked on the plotting, writing, and character development.
This time Alice and her squad are detailed to Ludlow, a very small town in the state. The citizens are strange and unforgiving, offering zero assistance to the police. There is evidence of child abuse and other deeply held secrets that make this book a compelling read.  I also recommend reading the author’s backlist for additional thrills and kills.
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4.5 stars.

  With an atmospheric setting and a puzzling crime to solve, Sweet After Death by Valentina Giambanco is multi-layered and compelling murder mystery. This fourth installment in the Alice Madison series can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the entire series.

  Seattle Homicide Detective Alice Madison, her partner Detective Sergeant Kevin Brown and Crime Scene Investigator Amy Sorenson volunteer to assist a small town police force investigate the murder of one of their residents. Ludlow, WA is near the Canadian border and Sheriff Will Sangster and his two deputies welcome the Seattle cops’ expertise.  No one can come up with a reason for Dr. Robert Dennen’s and Madison and her team first focus on collecting evidence at the crime scene. They have barely begun their investigation when another resident is gunned down in cold blood in a very public setting.  The evidence begins to point towards Jeb Tanner, who lives off the grid with his kids, but the link is tenuous at best. However, Alice is concerned for the safety of the Tanner children but will she find a way to save them from their abusive father? More importantly, will Alice, Kevin and Amy unmask the killer before he/she strikes again?

  Despite feeling out of their element, Madison, Sorensen and Brown immediately go to the crime scene. The team is dismayed by the poor scene containment and with bad weather setting in, they know it is imperative to work quickly to gather evidence before it is lost or destroyed.  With precious little new information, Alice turns to Dr. Dennen’s office in hopes of uncovering new leads.  Discovering a vital clue that lets her know she is on the right track and with the help of Dr. Eric Lynch, she finds yet another perplexing bit of information. Will this surprising detail turn into the break the team needs to crack the case?

  Alice is a bit unsettled by the isolated location and she begins dreaming about long ago events. Both longtime readers and newcomers to the series  will be thrilled with this new insight into Alice and her mysterious background. She is also growing more comfortable in her secret yet undefined relationship that grounds her while Alice is out of her usual environment.

  Sweet After Death is a captivating police procedural that features a fast-paced and clever storyline. The characters are well-drawn, multi-faceted and likeable.  The investigation moves at a brisk pace and  Valentina Giambanco brilliantly keeps the perpetrator’s identity and motive for the murders carefully concealed until the shocking denouement. The change in location and new characters help keep the Alice Madison series fresh and interesting. Old and new fans are sure to enjoy this fantastic mystery.
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First, I'd like to thank Netgalley and Quercus for allowing me to preview this book. Their generosity in no way affects my review. 
   This is a police procedural starring Detective Alice Madison of Seattle Homicide, the fourth in a series (but my first). The series debuted in 2013 with "The Gift of Darkness", which I put on my wish list after finishing this one. 
   Although Alice and her co-workers are Seattle cops, the action does not take place there. Rather, the three of them are sent to the remote town of Ludlow, Washington, where the first murder in years has occurred and the local cops are out of their league. Rather than resent the big-city detectives, the locals welcome them into their tiny hamlet, which reminds one of Mayberry. The story reminded me of an Agatha Christie mystery (which is a good thing), where you know that the killer must be one of these townsfolk, but which one? There are a couple of red herrings along the way, and an interesting twist at the end. 
   The story is well-written, engaging, and fast-moving. The main characters are likeable, if a little two-dimensional. There is a sense of humor throughout the tale, and I laughed out loud when one character was described as having "the social skills of a skunk". About the only thing I wasn't a fan of were the flashbacks to Alice's childhood, which were slightly distracting and confusing. 
   I like how the meaning of the title is revealed near the end of the book,  as in "The Catcher in the Rye"; I won't spoil it for you by telling you what it means.
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Nicely done- a complex mystery with complex characters makes for a good read.  I was not familiar with Alice Madison, a homicide detective, but that wasn't a problem because Giambanco framed the novel in a way that I understood immediately who was who and what was important about them.  Alice's relationship with her colleagues Kevin Brown and Amy Sorenson is classic, but with enough quirks to keep it interesting.  The town of Ludlow Washington, where the team is sent after the town doctor is murdered in a horrible way, is filled with creepy people and lots of secrets.  There are twists and a plot line involving abuse that will eventually converge.  Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.
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Detective Alice Madison book 4 .  A clever plot that keeps you guessing till the end ! A chilling , disturbing and riveting story you won't soon forget ! I loved this book and highly recommend ! Thanks to Netgalley and Quercus for the digital copy in exchange for my honest review ! #Netgalley #Quercus 
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Valentina has become one of the authors that I look forward to seeing new books from. This book was PHENOMENAL. Ready for the next one!
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This book has a dark and suspenseful plot that keeps you guessing until the end. These great characters all have depth and many have tragic pasts. Excellent read!
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Homicide Detective Alice Madison, DS Kevin Brown and CSI Amy Sorensen volunteer to assist the Ludlow, Washington police force ... a total of three officers.  The local doctor has been found with his hands bound and inside a burning car.  Since this is the very first murder in this small town, they have requested help.

Tasked with not only solving the crime but also training the officers has put a lot of strain of the three investigators. They are definitely out of their comfort zone .. especially when they become the killer's target.

The residents of this small town seem to all be harboring secrets of their own.  The investigators are going to have to bring those secrets to the light of day if they want the killing to stop.

A subplot running along side is the case of a young teenage boy and his siblings being abused by their father.   When the two cases start to merge, the suspension is raised to new heights.
The characters are terrific .. well-defined.  I enjoyed getting a backstory on Alice, as well as a little about her very personal life.  I like how Madison, Brown, and Sorenson relate to each other.  

This is a well-written, action-packed, intriguing story that gripped me from the very first page.  Even though this is 4th in a series this can easily be read as a stand alone.  It certainly whetted my appetite to collect this series and start from the beginning.

Many thanks to the author / Quercus (US) / Netgalley for the advanced digital copy of this crime fiction.  Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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If you liked the American version of the Killing, you’ll love this moody, dark murder mystery set under the gray and heavy clouds of Washington state. Detectives Alice Madison and Kevin Brown, along with CSI Amy Sorenson must solve a murder that rapidly evolves into an active crime scene where they themselves are the targets. Tense and brooding
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