Cover Image: The Dark Circle

The Dark Circle

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Member Reviews

4 ⭐️ 
This book is a mystery/thriller about Jake who is looking for a girl and ends up finding out something so much deeper

This was a really fast and quick read so i’d recommend if you’re looking for something to help you get out of a reading slump. I didn’t realise this was the second book of a series but I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything as the author made sure to cover the basic from the previous book 

I really liked how there was an even amount of the main plot and the subplot of Jake with Lauren and Bug, the ending left me wanting more answers so i’m hoping there’s a third book to this series

The plot is quite dark so trigger warnings for rape, drugs, human trafficking and abuse 

Thank you NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for this ARC.
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The Dark Circle by Robert J. Mrazek is a highly recommended thriller and the second installment of the Jake Cantrell series.

Jake Cantrell, ex-army officer, loses his job as a campus security guard when a campus event leads to Jake having to defend himself against two football players high on an opioid distributed at the event. He is fired for using excessive force, but quickly finds another job. Lauren Kennsiton, editor of the Groton Journal, hires him to find missing college student Deborah Chapman. Deborah is a gifted young jazz vocalist who suddenly disappeared. Jake's investigation turns into a whole lot more than finding a missing person.

This is a very dark and disturbing thriller. There is one scene very early in the novel that almost had me decline to finish reading it for a review. I hope it was removed from the final version. There was no reason for it to be included and it needs to be noted that women read thrillers too, not just men. What kept me reading was Bug, the eighteen-year-old wolf hound Jake saved in Afghanistan. Jake is very loving to Bug and so I decided to continue. It did get better.

While the tone of the narrative continued to be very dark, Jake's actions and investigation are seriously dedicated to discovering what is going on. The plot becomes increasingly complicated as Jake uncovers more information and clues leading to more and more disturbing facts. Jake's determination to uncover everything is commendable, which sort of made up for the earlier scene. This can be read as a stand-alone novel. I have not read Dead Man's Bridge, the first in the series, and didn't feel as if I missed anything. Events in Jake's past are shared as needed in the plot.

The Dark Circle is a novel that requires you to suspend disbelief as Jake is almost super-human in his ability to handle all sorts of abuse and violence and keep going while trying to track down perpetrators and clues. It is well-written and readers will end up hoping Jake succeeds in all the very risky missions he undertakes to find the answers and uncover the nefarious deeds and actions going on. The final denouement is satisfying, but there are some questions/plot points left unanswered.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Crooked Lane Books via NetGalley.
The review will be published on Barnes & Noble, Edelweiss, Google Books, and Amazon.
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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Dark Circle by Robert J. Mrazek (Jake Cantrell #2) from Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

…an extremely fast-paced, well-written and intriguing mystery/thriller, the Dark Circle takes the reader on a nerve-wracking adventure…  

When ex-Army Ranger Jake Cantrell is fired from his security job at a local campus, he wonders how he is going to make ends meet. When Lauren Kennsiton, the editor of the Groton Journal comes to him for help finding missing college student Deborah Chapman, Jake signs up. When Deborah is found in bad shape the investigation leads to a mysterious opioid that is making a deadly appearance and when it appears there are more missing women, it puts them on a path that leads to sex trafficking, drugs, police corruption, conspiracies, and the inner sanctum of a deadly order. The investigation takes them behind the scenes with powerful players who will do anything to silence the truth.   

An extremely fast-paced, well-written and intriguing mystery/thriller, the Dark Circle takes the reader on a nerve-wracking adventure. I did not realize it is the second book in a series but honestly it works incredibly well as a standalone and I will go back and read book one.  

Overall, I enjoyed the book but a warning…it was very violent, for my taste anyway, but reading is subjective, and the mystery and romance plotline were well done, and I could not help but to keep reading. It does have triggers such a sexual assault, sex trafficking and drug use and extreme violence.
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Lauren pulls Jake into the hunt for Deborah, a bright young woman who has gone missing.  This leads him into the world of opioids and trafficking in a propulsive and trope-y thriller that is rescued by Bug, Jake's aging but still interesting wolf dog.  It's dark and familiar but sadly realistic.   Thanks to netgalley for the ARC.  Might make a good movie.
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The dark circle by Robert J. Mrazek

Avery fast reading novel.  I couldn’t put it down.  A good character base.  Very disturbing and emotional book.  I recommend this novel.

Thanks to Net Galley for sending me an advanced reader’s copy for my review
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Jake Cantrell has just lost his job as campus security for a small college in upstate New York when he is approached by local reporter Lauren Kenniston to look into the disappearance a Deborah Chapman. Deborah is a college student and a gifted jazz singer. 

Since Jake doesn't have anything to do, and Lauren is offering $200 a day, he decides to try even though he has no experience as a private investigator. He's soon deeply involved with the opioid crisis that is flourishing in the area. He finds Deborah in a crib for drug-addicted prostitutes and then has to discover how this bright, talented virgin ended up there.

He and Lauren, who lost a brother to opioids, begin to look into things and discover that Deborah was apparently targeted by a sex cult and she wasn't tie first victim. Their search leads them to a shady casino, corrupt cops, corrupt government employees, and a cabal of rich dudes.

The story has a lot of violence as both Jake and a couple of people he is working with are targeted and beaten by the villains. Jake returns the favor and leaves a trail of bodies behind him before settling for some vigilante justice.

I enjoyed this fast-paced thriller. I really liked the descriptions of upper New York State and the cities and small towns that are rotting from within. The characters were engaging.
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This book hucked me from the start. It was such an amazing read.


Read it in one night, I just couldn't put it down.
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Fast paced, mystery thriller and it's well done.  Very well done.   

Jake is hired by a private investigation firm after losing his police job.  He is tasked with a missing person case that sucks him into a world of drugs, trafficking and more. Wow.  This was insane ride that took me through many ups and downs.  

I go to chemotherapy every three weeks and each infusion is 4 hours and I had most of this finished in one session- it was THAT fast paced and I could NOT wait to get to the end to find the resolution.  I was up the rest of the evening until I finished it.
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Ex army “dad shows”‘are all the rage right now! This story reminded me of all the popular shows mixed together! I had no idea this was a sequel until I saw a review that said it was… honestly this story was incredible. I am really enjoying books about the opioid crisis. I feel like this is a relevant topic. This story is so much more, it’s a thriller and a suspense rolled into one. The writing is incredibly intense and the story moves quickly. It’s easy to get engaged and now I’m off to find other stories from this author! What a ride!
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What a flipping ride.  This is a labeled a mystery, I think it should also be labeled a suspenseful thriller.  First time author for me and it will not be the last.  I don't need any more in my TBR pile, but I can't let this go.  This is a sequel and I had no clue.  I was not lost, I was not disappointed.  Jake our ex military via an unjust disgrace as the blurb calls him likes his drink, loves his dog and life hands him one lemon after another.  After a losing his security job and deciding to follow up on a missing person that Lauren (editor of Groton Journal) asked him to, hired him to, its non stop twist,turns, dirty people in all walks of life. This is layer after layer of all the things happening across the world told in fiction and with characters we care about.  The Lauren & Jake relationship is a hit. What happens to other main characters, heartbreaking and the ending....answered some questions and left some question.  Please tell me there is a book 3 and please let there still be a Lauren and Jake, and Fab and Bug...answer those questions!  Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books, NetGalley for the arc. I freely volunteer my thoughts and opinions.
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The Dark Circle by Robert J. Mrazekash

Jake takes on the task of working in campus security and loses the job after a rash of students take a new designer drug turns the co-eds into crazed lunatics and Jake ends up being accused of assault against a pair of athletes.

Licking his wounds after his job loss, Jake gets put on retainer by Lauren Kennsiton, the editor of the Groton Journal, to help her find a musical prodigy who never came home. 

The job is more than Jake bargained and the search for Deborah leads Jake down a dangerous path of drugs, sex trafficking, a corrupt police and a group that calls themselves…. The Knights.

When I got this book, I had no idea it was part of a series but the author did so well with back building from the previous book, that I didn’t feel like there were any holes in the story and I didn’t miss anything by starting with book 2.

Jake is a real man's man with a heart of gold and with his dog, Bug, they make quite the duo. Bug even goes so far as to invite a stray cat to live with them.
I found the blooming love story between him and Lauren to be very realistic and raw. It didn’t overtake the storyline which I am seriously glad for. 

I found the premise of the book very intriguing and it kept getting better and better. I am a conspiracy theorist by nature so watching Jake go down the rabbit hole was thrilling. The whole story was brilliantly woven into a spider web of corruption, drugs and sex trafficking and the players were hidden in plain sight! The power connections really breathed life into this book.

If you are a fan of mystery thriller series that packs a punch then this is the series for you!! 

4.5 stars!! Thank you netgalley and Crooked Lane books for my free ARC book in exchange for my honest review.
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This book was so good! I want to see more from this author in the future!! I couldn't put this book down. What a page turner!!!
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This is a fast-paced, though dark, story. Subplots work together nicely and help lighten the mood, at times,, and the characters are well-developed. There are loose ends that pave the way for the sequel. I'd suggest reading the books in order.

Trigger warnings: rape, abuse, drugs
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Wow.  This story was fast paced in a good way.  It has trigger points so may not be suitable for viewers that are sensitive. Such as Drugs, rape, abuse.  I enjoyed the story and was never a part that I felt was lost or slow.
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The Dark Circle is the second Jake Cantrell mystery, following said Jake Cantrell, an ex-army officer, who is fired from his job as a campus security officer after being told off about the way he stopped two college kids on special opioids from attacking each other and him. However, that was only the start, as he makes a connection between the special opioid crisis to a missing persons case that he was recruited by a friend to help solve, leading to them uncovering a messy network of secrets, drugs and scandals. 

<b>Be wary, readers,</b> because some of the topics the book covers include <spoiler>drug abuse, rape, sexual assault and human trafficking.</spoiler>

The book wastes no time and sticks to a fast-pace throughout the whole book, constantly moving from one lead to the next. Honestly though, my eyes kept bugging out each time we get a new revelation because the story just gets darker and darker. The subplots, such as taking care of Bug (his aging wolf hound) and the development of his relationship with Lauren (the reporter who got him to work on the missing person case), were well-paced and nicely sprinkled throughout the narrative. These subplots worked to help lighten up the mood of the story and offer some relief before it's time to dive back into the main plot.

With the way the story cuts to black and how several subplots left open at the end, you're left reeling from the events of the story and want to follow Jake in the next installment to get some closure to those subplots. 

<i>Thanks to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing me with the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.</i>
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This book kept me hooked from the start. After Jake Cantrell is fired from his police job, he is approached about a private job investigating a missing woman. His investigations lead him to a bigger web of drugs, trafficking and money. His path to vengeance for these women is captivating.
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THE DARK CIRCLE by Robert J. Mrazek is a thrilling, wonderful it's just really good story, with excellent characters.
Really enjoyed this one! I love the detail in his writing. This book had enough twists to keep me reading and guessing. The pace of this thriller is languid. Very entertaining and well-written.
I couldn't put the book down as I was desperate to see how the plot played out! Definitely recommend.

Crooked Lane Books,
Thank you for this eARC!
I will post my review close to pub date
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