Cover Image: Denied


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Member Reviews

Mary Keliikoa sure can write a good mystery. I love Kelly Pruett and everything about her. She is driven, a good mother, and wants to prove herself.  She still holds issues with her late father, but she has the tenacity and spunk to get the job done. This book kept me guessing on who the murderer was. When I thought it was plain as day who it was, I was completely side swiped on who it really was. That's what I love about mysteries, and especially how Mary writes them.
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Denied (Kelly Pruett Book 2) by Mary Keliikoa is a gripping mystery with my favorite type of female protagonist - strong and independent.  Kelly Pruett is a licensed PI and has learned to exercise some caution, since she is also a mother sharing custody of her deaf daughter with her ex-husband.  When an old friend asks her to locate her estranged and missing father, Kelly has no idea what she is walking into.  As she looks for answers for her friend, she discovers secrets hidden within her own family.

I found this mystery well-plotted with just enough tension and intrigue to keep me engaged until the last page was turned.  (I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy and all opinions are my own.)
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Sometimes the female PI lead character can be a bit samey across authors and series but this is a great example of a credible, likeable and kind of inspiring one!  The story itself is terrific, with an urgency to the case which will keep you gripped.  Definitely a series to keep reading.
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I always love a good mystery series and there is a lot to love about this one. As the book tour is for the second book in the series and I *can't* happily read series books out of order, I requested an arc of the first book, Derailed. I like that the books are set in my old stomping ground of Portland, Oregon, in fact Derailed had a Portland spin on a murder when a young woman was killed by a Max Light Rail Train. It sets up Kelly's situation, she is a Private Investigator who took over her father's business when he suffered a stroke and died. She has an 8-year-old daughter. Mitz, who is deaf and a basset hound named Floyd. She also has an ex-husband who cheated on her with her (former) best friend and an ex-mother-in-law who helps with Mitz and gets in Kelly's business a lot. There is a bit of a cozy mystery vibe here in that Kelly's father kept her on the light side of the business--process serving, skip tracing, stakeouts for photos of cheating spouses, and not on any of the grittier cases so she is often out of her element and takes some not-so-wise chances in both books. 

In Denied, an old school friend has been estranged from her father and asks Kelly to find him as she is pregnant and high risk. Kelly thinks he may have gotten involved over his head with a gambling racket and when it turns out he had an unfortunate car "accident," she is convinced there's more to the case. The books are quick reads, tension builds nicely, and there were some twists--some I saw coming, others were more of a surprise. I did have to yell at Kelly a few times in my head for her life choices and decisions, but overall, she is a character that I enjoyed. There's a new love interest for her plus some complications from her ex-husband to explore too. If you like mystery and PI series, a strong female main character, and Portland/Oregon settings, you should enjoy the Kelly Pruett Mysteries. I know I am looking forward to the next book.
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As private investigators go, Kelly Pruett has one quality that sets her apart to my way of thinking. Like Goldilocks and her bears, Kelly is not overwhelmingly good at her job nor is she TSTL. No, this lady falls right in the middle, meaning she has the smarts she needs most of the time but occasionally goes haywire. In other words, she’s normal and I really appreciate that.

Kelly was injured on the job in her first book and is still recovering but, let’s face it, an overload of cheating significant others can be a tad boring. Hearing from an old friend whose estranged dad is missing gives Kelly the chance to work on something a little more interesting. Little does she know this case is going to turn ugly all too soon and she’ll find herself up against the mob.

In this second adventure, Mary Keliikoa continues establishing Kelly as a woman of thought and determination, one who does her best to balance work with her personal life, especially her deaf daughter. I like Kelly and I’m already anticipating book # 3.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2021.
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Portland PI Kelly Pruett is back. When Kelly is approached by an old classmate to find her missing father, she can't say no. It isn't long before his body is found, but Kelly, as we are often reminded, is nothing if not stubborn and continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death.

Kelly has more personal angst than most. She is divorced after her husband has a one night stand with her best friend. In the last book, she discovers some unwelcome revelations about her late father that she has trouble reconciling with her memories. And further drama from her ex-husband is clearly going to be around in future books. Kelly has a hearing impaired daughter and her ex mother in law lives next door. She is torn between her personal and professional lives.

The investigation leads Kelly into organized crime loan sharking and municipal development shenanigans. She is tenacious at times beyond belief. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Kelly is a great protagonist. She’s ambitious, stubborn, and will never let a case go unsolved--even if that puts herself at risk. She struggles to balance home and work life, and make sure that work doesn’t take precedence over her daughter Mitz.

Denied is just as twisty as Derailed, taking the reader on a crazy journey for such a small book! I love that there is no fat in these stories: the plot is straight and to the point, and there’s no time spent wading through backstory. In longer books, the backstory can really bog the story down and make me lose interest, but that definitely isn’t the case with Keliikoa’s books. Every scene is interesting and relevant to the fast-paced plot.

If you love a fast-paced mystery with a strong female MC, this one is for you! I’m looking forward to more books in the Kelly Pruitt series.
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PI Kelly Pruit is healing nicely since her altercation with her last case that had landed her in danger. She is happy to be taking cases that don’t envolve any danger.  Kelly has her deaf daughter to think about and isn’t in a hurry to get into a danger scrap again.

Then a woman she was friends with when she was younger comes to her and ask her if she could find her father. Stephanie had a falling out with him and hasn’t spoken to him in a while and now she is pregnant and she wants him to know but she has been calling him for a few weeks and not getting an answer. She is afraid to go check his house because of what she might find so she wants to hire Kelly.

Kelly agrees to it because she thinks that it will probably be a pretty simple missing persons case, but she was wrong. When she goes to Vince’s house to have a look around she finds some pull tabs and other gambling tickets, but nothing to give her a real idea of where Vince might be. She does find something nasty and disturbing in the trash can under the sink, a severed finger.

After calling the police to let them know what she found she decides to try the gambling place he seem to have a lot of tickets from as well as the last place she knew he worked to see what they knew. At the bowling alley where he worked she found out he wasn’t a great employee and didn’t work there anymore but he did gamble with the pull tabs and had been in an arguement with the owner. Then at the gambling place she learns real quick that some heavyweight people are looking for him when she is cornered by a big guy and his boss that says she should just not look for Vince. Of course that just makes her more curious about what happened.

The more she tries to retrace Vinces last days she learns more and more about what he was doing and it involves a lot more than she bargained for and ends up getting herself in to way more trouble than she was looking for as well. She struggles with wanting to find out what happened and needing to make sure she is there for her daughter as well. She shares custody with her ex who also hands her some unexpected news that will effect her.

I really enjoyed this one and found myself really trying to figure out what happened and I must stay I was a bit surprised at the twist at the end on who the bad person was in the whole thing. I mean there was so many people it could have been but I just didn’t expect that one so I liked that.

I like Kelly, she tries hard to balance spending time with her daughter with trying to make sure she found out what happened for her client. She also made time for her boyfriend who is a policeman, so he kind of knows how things go when she might cancel or be late for something. The relationship with her ex and his mother is very interesting to say the least. She has know her ex since they were kids and it was his fault for cheating that they split, so it makes for some heated arguements and tension at times.

You probable don’t need to read book one to read this one but the first one was good so why wouldn’t you start at the beginning. 🙂 I would recommend this series to those who enjoy mysteries with Pivate Investigators.
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Is it just me, or are most mystery/thriller books these days a little…outlandish? I love them, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I’ll be reading the latest thriller and I’ll think…”Okay, this would never happen in real life though.”

Denied is a different kind of mystery. It wasn’t just that Vince’s disappearance seemed more grounded in reality than I’m used to recently (is it a symptom of a gambling addiction? Does he owe money to the local mobsters?), but the characters jumped off the page. Kelly Pruett seems like someone you know. She eats peanut butter off a spoon for dinner, takes her dog Floyd with her everywhere (until it gets to hot for him to stay in the car, of course!), and is dating someone new after a messy divorce, albeit tentatively. She loves her daughter and has a tricky but warm relationship with her mother-in-law. She’s a little hardheaded but softhearted. Overall, she’s an incredibly likeable character.

The mystery itself seems straight from a Law and Order episode or even something you’d watch on the evening news, but not in a bad way. Its a mystery that I just knew would be solved with a logical explanation, and it was! There was a great twist at the end, though, and enough surprises for the pages to turn easily. Plus, I loved her witty MIL Arlene and Officer Kuni, her reluctant police officer liaison (Arlene + Kuni = forever).
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Portland PI Kelly Pruett has recovered from the injuries suffered from her first harrowing murder case and is ready for more. A very pregnant former classmate named Stephanie hires Kelly to locate her estranged dad Vince Burnatos. Kelly searches Vince's house and finds evidence of some serious gambling habits as well as a severed finger in the kitchen. Kelly is just getting started when she is told to cease her investigations by a mobster at the racing track, and then gets an explosive warning when her beloved car blows up. But Kelly is determined to find the truth for her client and continues her search for Vince's whereabouts by questioning his employers at the bowling alley and a construction company in nearby Riverside.

When the local police find Vince's submerged car with him inside, they conclude it was a tragic accident. Kelly isn't convinced and her search near the wreckage site leads her to find an envelope with a videotape and vial of soil. A massive casino and waterpark development that is planned near the accident site and a phone number for a TV reporter scribbled on a notepad in Vince's house provide other clues that Vince was murdered. Pill bottles in Vince's medicine cabinet indicate he had terminal cancer and give some credible reasons for his odd behavior. Kelly doggedly continues her investigation, saves the life of one of her key suspects and unwittingly puts herself in danger once again while visiting Vince's house.

On the personal front, Kelly is not sure how far to take her budding relationship with police officer Kyle and her ex-husband Jeff drops a bombshell that may affect their deaf daughter Mitz and their family forever.

This was another fast-paced thrilling read in the Kelly Pruett PI series.

I received a digital ARC from Netgalley and Camel Press with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book and provided this review.
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I was about a third of the way through this when I saw that the first book (Derailed) had been nominated for an Agatha award.  Since I kept encountering references to that previous story, I put Denied down to read Derailed first.  That was a smart decision; when I returned to Denied, I had greater understanding of where Kelly Pruett was coming from and enjoyed the story more than I had thought I would. Kelly is a complicated character, but to really appreciate her, I think you should read Derailed first.

Thanks to Camel Press for a digitial ARC via NetGalley.
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When Private Investigator Kelly Pruett is asked by a friend to locate her father, she doesn't have the heart to say no.  But the missing person case turns deadly when she  does, indeed, locate the woman's father .... his body in a car that is submerged beneath the water.

She's told by the local police to back off her investigation, the local mafia type man and his bodyguard, her ex-husband, and her current boyfriend.  

Having inherited her father's detective agency, and being her father's daughter .. she just isn't going to stop until the case is solved.  She's tenacious if nothing else.  Her stubbornness just might end her career ... and her life.

Packed full of twists and turns , lies and secrets, the plot is well constructed with plenty  of suspects to follow who all have a reason to have wanted the dead man .. well, dead.  The characters are solidly drawn and Kelly is intriguing in her view of the world around her.  The suspense maintains a high level and leads to an unexpected explosive conclusion.

Many thanks to the author / Camel Press Books / Netgalley for the digital copy of this cozy mystery.  Read and reviewed voluntarily, opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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Denied (Kelly Pruitt Mystery)
By Mary Keliikoa

Really enjoyed this book, DENIED - second book in the series which I didn't even realize was the second book, which shows this is could be read as a great stand alone novel. We start the story with Kelly Pruitt recovering from an injury - inflicted by a bullet wound from a previous case. Kelly burned out from being hired as a PI for cases involving infidelity, was ore than happy to take a case from a high school friend, a fellow Peanut Butter aficionado, whose father had gone missing.

I enjoyed the point of view of Kelly though the story is being told from the past found it to be quite interesting as I already do love police procedurals so having to follow a detective around as the case gets solved was quite the read for me - especially from a woman PI point of view. Kelly also has a complicated past dealing with her special needs daughter, co-parenting with an ex, while also still reeling her father's death.

Overall, this was a great read for thriller and murder mystery lovers - loved the short chapters, and this book packs a punch in just a little over 200 pages. I cannot wait to read the rest of the series.
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Starts kind of slow, but builds up a good story with lots of twists in it. Real raw emotion and insight along the way. The heroine defends herself against violence, but is not a violent or vengeful person. I liked the book.
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#may2021release #booktour

"Life was a dance."-


 Isn't it a wonderful feeling;
-when you read more from the same author you liked,
-when you get to read book 2 from the series you liked & the wait is over?

 Any #nancydrew fans here? 🙋🏻‍♀️

Are you close go your best friend's family too?

 Do you like reading books on female, young, detective/ sleuths?

🦜Released 12th May.2021
Camel Press. @marykellikoa
238 pgs; 36 chapters.

Book Series: A Kelly Pruett Mystery.
Book 2. (exactly after 1 year of DERAILED).
🦜Can be read as a STANDALONE. 

🤐 PI Kelly Pruett's search to locate a former classmate's missing father ends in what appears to be a tragic accident. Kelly will play a high risk game of chance with a killer willing to gamble everything to win.

A smart,  young sleuth, deep friendships,  a mystery to-be solved & a dog 🐕. Also some dilemma & emotions with respect to Kelly's own l9ve life🙃. The reader is going to have her hands full in all respects.

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Second volume in this excellent series featuring a  female P.I. who's strong, resilient and tenacious without losing her humanity. Taking over the agency after the death her father in the first book, she continues  by taking a missing person case in this book. Her client is a childhood friend, Stephanie,  and the missing person is Stephanie's father. I love the way both books emphasize family and understanding relationships, but it only enhances a crackling good mystery never bogs it down. Not quite a five star read for me but close enough that I had think about it
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This second book in the PI Kelly Pruett series is just as loaded with twists, turns, secrets, and lies as the first. Kelly thinks she’s taken on a simple missing person’s case for an old friend, but it quickly becomes clear that nothing is straightforward about this case or the victim. Though the plot is engrossing and suspenseful, the best part is Kelly Pruett herself, so well-developed she steps right off the page, full of tenacious stubbornness and humanity. I can’t wait for her next case.
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Though this is the second book in the series I had no trouble jumping right into this book.  Kelly misses her dad and really wants him to be proud of her but for someone who worked with her dad until he passed she wasn't very smart.   She really needs to have a strong support group if she wants to continue her profession and grow, like her ex mother in law, Kyle and all the other strong characters who had her back.  Guess I'm team Kyle moving forward.   I'd  like  to thank Camel Press publishing for the advanced copy.
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This is a good solid mystery novel. Not reading the first novel in the series I had no problem catching on to the different characters and their backstories. It took me awhile to get into the novel but once I did I enjoyed all the twists and turns and nail biting suspense. It all comes together in the end and that was very well done. Highly recommend!!!
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I love Detective Kelly! As always she is fearless, hardworking and resourceful. And with this being her first murder case she will stop at nothing to bring justice to it. The story started a bit slow and then boom, it dropped the bomb and I found myself holding my breath as I continue reading, The mystery, suspense and thrill are all spot on and amazing. If you love the Detective Kelly and her adventures in the first book, you will admire her more on this one! 100% mind blowing read!
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