Cover Image: Don't Ask, Don't Follow

Don't Ask, Don't Follow

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I've enjoyed a couple of other books by this author, and especially liked Denied, part of the Kelly Pruett series. Don't Ask, Don't Follow is a standalone Mystery Thriller/Suspense story that is very engaging. Beth Ralston has always covered for her sister, Lindsay, for whatever her older sibling was up to. When Beth would want to know what she was doing, Lindsay always replied, "Don't ask."

Years later, Beth works as a paralegal for her father's law firm, and leaves a company holiday party to speak to her boss. Beth is shocked when she finds Craig dead in his office. She thinks she sees her sister run out of his office and later finds Lindsay's phone in her purse with a message that says, "Don't ask. Don't follow". When Lindsay appears to be missing, Beth will do anything to find her and protect her, no matter what the message says.

I really liked this book and was in suspense from the beginning to the end. I like Beth and know she is doing her best to find out if Lindsay is in danger from something she was looking into for her job as an investigative reporter. However, she sometimes makes poor decisions, taking unnecessary risks. At one point in the story, I was yelling, "Just call 9-1-1!" However, even though Beth sometimes frustrated me, this means I was engrossed in the story and really cared about her character, which is a good thing! I thought I had figured out one of the plot twists, but I was surprised when everything came to light.

I received an advance copy of this ebook at no cost from NetGalley and Oceanview Publishing. My review is voluntary and unbiased.

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3.75 stars rounded up to 4.

A solid slow-burn thriller read involving two sisters with generally good pacing, an interesting plot (though a bit predictable), and a satisfying ending. The story is told in the main character’s (Beth) first person POV and she is very likeable. I thought Beth’s parents’ characters could have been better developed to understand their motivations. I liked the relationship between Beth and her sister.

I hadn’t read this author before but I really like her writing style, her plotting, and the way in which the story came together in the end. No big twists but nonetheless a good read.

Thanks to Oceanview Publishing for this complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

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I am thoroughly impressed with this book and the story within it. This is the first book that I have read by this author, but it will not be my last. I was drawn into this story from the beginning pages, and then I fell headfirst into it and did not come up for air until I finished it.

Beth Ralston is a paralegal at her father's law firm. Beth is not a social butterfly, which is why she is avoiding the company party. As she goes into the office of her boss, a woman flies out the door. She looks suspiciously like her sister, Lindsey. When Beth realizes that her boss has been murdered, she knows something is definitely wrong, besides the dead body in the chair behind the desk. Her sister is flighty at times and disappears for days in her quest for justice as an investigative journalist, but Beth knows she is incapable of murder. When she finds her sister's phone in her own bag with the simple code words they have used since their days of youth, she knows all is not right.

Beth takes up her sister's mantle of investigating, even though at first she has no idea what she is investigating. She just knows that someone killed her boss and her sister has disappeared because of it. It was a tense and electric storyline that will leave you on the edge of your seat. As Beth peels back layer after layer of the mystery, she is shocked to find something that will change her life forever. There are so many lies and long-buried secrets that will shock you to your core. Beth touched my heart with her fearlessness to find her sister against all odds, dead or alive. She used her intellectual abilities and love for her sister to continue the quest, even when it seemed others made assumptions about her sister. If you enjoy a solid mystery, you will enjoy this one. I proudly give this one five stars.

Thank you to Oceanview Publishing and NetGalley for this ARC. I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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This is my first book by Mary Keliikoa, it grabbed my attention right away.

For Beth, a party at her family’s law firm ends in death and a cryptic message from her sister, Lindsey. Basically, Don’t Ask Don’t Follow as she is seen fleeing the scene of the crime. Does Beth follow those instructions, of course not .

What follows is 350 pages of Beth trying to figure out why her boss was killed, why she’s being followed, what her sister is up to, along with secrets of the past that are about to be revealed. And should those secrets even be revealed at all

I really enjoyed this book. I found Beth to be likeable with her devotion to her sister. I found myself frustrated at times with her parents and other things that went on. It was your classic case of not knowing who to trust, believe and quietly whispering to my Kindle for Beth not to do some of the things she does

Don’t Ask Don't Follow is a story of family secrets and following your gut instinct. Like I said a new author for me and one I will definitely be taking another look at.

My thanks to Oceanview Publishing (via Netgalley) for a digital arc in exchange for an honest review.

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Beth Ralston is a paralegal at her family’s firm working alongside her best friend, Craig. They’re both workaholics who would rather work than spend time at the firm’s big party with friends and family downstairs. Her sister, Lindsay, was supposed to make an appearance at the party, but she’s an investigative reporter who’s always chasing a story and hardly ever keeps her promises.

Beth has had enough socializing and heads upstairs to talk to Craig, and hopefully find Lindsay. When she reaches Craig’s office, a woman with bright red hair, like Lindsay’s, flies out of the room and down the hall to the elevator. When Beth enters Craig’s office to grab some files, she notices that his shirt is covered in blood and he’s dead. Bethany takes off toward the elevator to follow her sister, but she vanished into thin air.

Beth rushes to her office to compose herself and to call for help, but notices that Lindsay’s phone is in her purse. When she opens it, there’s an unsent text saying: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Follow.”

Lindsay’s disappearance launches Beth into her own investigation that uncovers a family secret and dangerous people that would kill to keep it hidden.

This book started off strong, but I found the storyline and Beth’s anxious thoughts repetitive. Beth clumsily launched herself into the disappearance of her sister, with her lack of experience, she made terrible decisions along the way. I had already figured out the big twist around the middle of the book, and lost interest in the storyline soon after.

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American author, Mary Keliikoa's latest crime mystery tale, Don't Ask, Don't Follow (2024) is a standalone thriller. Lindsay and Beth Ralstron are very different sisters, as is their relationship with their father – a wealthy lawyer running for Portland’s Mayoral Office. On the night of the party at the law firm to announce his candidature, Beth spots Lindsay fleeing an Associate’s office who has been murdered. As the police investigate, Lindsay disappears and Beth tries to discover the news story Lindsay was working on. As Beth delves deeper, she discovers a potential explosive family secret and possible connection to the illegal adoption network Lindsay was pursuing. A solid drama-building thriller with a family secret, a sister who continues to ask and follow, that is an enjoyable three and a half stars read rating. With thanks to Oceanview Publishing and the author, for an uncorrected advanced review copy for review purposes. As always, the opinions herein are totally my own, freely given and without inducement.

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Beth doesn't believe her sister Lindsay could be a murderer- that she killed her boss at the family law firm- but Lindsay has disappeared and there are just so many questions. This is a twisty tale of family secrets and corruption, some of which Linday, an investigative reporter was working to expose. Some of the more interesting interactions are between Beth and her parents and this does strain credulity at spots. That said, it's well written and kept me reading for the answers Beth- and Lindsay- are seeking. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. A good read.

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Headline: Twists, turns, and unexpected developments galore.

Book Review: Don't Ask, Don't Follow by Mary Keliikoa
Published by Oceanview Publishing, June 4, 2024

★★★★☆ (4.25 Stars!)

Portland, Oregon

Thriller writer Mary Keliikoa introduces Beth Ralston, the workaholic daughter of wealthy powerhouse lawyers. A fiercely independent woman, all-business, no nonsense Pacific Northwesterner who "...preferred things black or white, fact or fiction...".

She works in the Portland, OR law offices owned by her father, not as a partner or lawyer, but as a staff paralegal, on purpose, to stick to her dogged determination to fund her own education towards a JD law degree, despite generous offers from her parents.

"Fun doesn't pay the bills..."
Beth, focused on her job and career goals, would never be one caught frolicking and partying. But on that fateful night, urged on by a coworker, her closest friend in the firm, she reluctantly attends a company holiday party in the firm's lobby and socializes with small talk, catered canapes and freely flowing alcohol.

Murder. And a disappearance.
It is in during this party that Beth's boss, Craig, an associate lawyer, is found murdered in his office - by Beth herself.

It is also during this time that Beth's elder sister, Lindsay, disappears.

Fired!
Then, inexplicably, instead of being supportive of one distraught daughter and being concerned about the disappearance of another, her own parents work behind the scenes to have Beth locked out of her office, fired from her job - banished from her own father's law firm.

A judge gets involved. A women's health clinic and midwives enter the picture. And even as the Portland PD investigates the death of Craig, someone else meets an untimely, unnatural demise. A killer is on the prowl.

And life as Beth knows it unravels before her very eyes...

-----

Twists, turns, and unexpected developments galore.

For some readers, however, the book may come across more under the Women's Fiction genre than a Mystery Thriller, the way the storyline is written.

In the novel's 350 pages, the protagonist incessantly reminisces on, yearns for and expresses distress for her missing sister, saturating the narrative with references to "Lindsay", the name of her sister repeatedly mentioned 595 times, and "sister" 164 times. "Craig", the name of her murdered boss is repeated 254 times. However, for the latter, there is for a reason - being a key piece in the puzzle!

To be quite clear, this may be partly due to the fact that I read a prepublication unedited ARC (advanced reading copy) with typos, misalignments, the table of contents missing, and chapters not entirely organized.

This was my first read of Ms. Keliikoa's books. I admit I probably wasn't the primary target audience for this particular novel, but, without hesitation, I've added her "Misty Pines" and "Kelly Pruett" mystery novels to my TBR list.

Review based on an advanced reading copy courtesy of Oceanview Publishing and NetGalley.

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I’m a big thriller fan, I’ve read all different types of thrillers but this story was very different to anything I’ve read to date.

What caught my attention with this book is the title but what I didn’t realise was how addicting the book would be to read. I went in blind, not reading the synopsis or any other reviews, and within the first few pages I was hooked. The sisterly bond between Lindsay and Beth really pulled me in and played on my emotions, and driven more so by the fact Beth and myself had the same nickname growing up and the relationship between the sisters isn’t to dissimilar to the relationship and bond I share with mine.

Granted, it is a slow burn but there was lots of information to take in and whilst the twists weren’t jaw dropping, they were perfect for the story. Overall, the book is certainly a page turner, I was addicted and needed to know how the story would play out and the end certainly didn’t disappoint.

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Beth leaves her works party and finds her boss murdered and her sister Lindsay running away from the room leaving her phone behind with a message saying "Don`t ask , Don`t follow" which of course she does but Lindsay disappears and the police suspect Beth of the murder.
Beth find out Lindsay who is an investigative reporter is onto something that could destroy the family.
A great read you can`t put down with a twist at the end.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC and I give my honest review.

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What She Won’t Do For Her Sister

The novel opens with a flashback incident involving two sisters. The basic characteristics of these two sisters are present in their teenage years. Then, the timeline advances to the present with an office Christmas Party for the sister’s father’s law firm. He is the senior named partner but retired. Beth Ralston, his younger daughter, works as a paralegal. Her boss, Craig Bartell, approaches her during the party. He tells her they need to talk, but her father is summoning her. After giving up on the party, she returns to her office; Bartell's office door is shut. She notices that a file she was to summarize is missing from her desk. She thinks that Bartell may have taken it. She heads to his office. She sees her sister, Lindsay, leaving his office. She calls, but her sister ignores her and takes the elevator before Beth can catch her. Upon returning to Bartell’s office, she discovers that he is dead. The novel grows from this start.

This main storyline has one thread narrated by Beth Ralston. There are short sections where she is not the narrator, but this main storyline is seen through her eyes. There are many subthreads, such as Beth’s father running for mayor and the police investigation of Bartell’s murder. Beth does not believe her sister is guilty, so she starts by not telling the police that it was Lindsay she saw leaving Bartell’s office. Lindsay is an investigative reporter so that it may relate to her work. She doesn’t have anyone to help her because her sister has disappeared, her father is running for mayor, who deflects any of her questions, and her mother says that she has a migraine and goes to bed when confronted. After being released from the crime scene, she goes to Bartell’s nominally to retrieve Bartell’s cat, but she searches his office and finds a file underneath all the other files. It is labeled confidential. She takes it, the cat, and some cat supplies. This is how the rest of the novel proceeds with Beth’s illegal and questionable actions and not sharing some information with the police.

The story was like an onion that Beth had to work through each layer. The tension is maintained as she is being followed aggressively and finds a GPS tracker on her call. As the novel proceeds, more dangerous threats appear. There were twists, turns, and one literary tsunami that changed my understanding of a primary tenant of this novel. These aspects kept my mind actively engaged to the end of the novel. The flow of the novel was quick, and I finished it faster than usual.

The background on Beth is quite extensive. Flashbacks provide the depth and length of Beth’s relationship with her sister. Another rich source is Beth’s relationship with her closest office friend, Mandy Perkins. That relationship has its ups and downs. How Beth handles these provides even more insight into her character. Her willingness to take risks to prove her sister innocent shows her loyalty. There is one B-storyline between Beth’s father and his campaign manager. This relationship makes it even harder for Beth to communicate with her father. These aspects enhanced my reading enjoyment.

Some aspects that can cause some readers to stop reading are not significant issues in this novel. First, there are no intimate scenes. Vulgar and rude language is at a relatively low level. There is some light impious language. Most of the violence is described after the fact. Lastly, this is standalone, so there are no references to actions in previous novels to hamper your understanding of this novel. Overall, this novel should not pose any problems for most readers.

The primary aspect in this novel that I did not like was that many of Beth Ralston’s actions would not or should not be accommodated by the police, but I understand that they were required to keep the novel moving along. The significant aspect I enjoyed was that each chapter was rich in detail, whether background or storyline threads. By the end, there were not any loose ends. The ending surprised me, but it does explain some of the issues I had with the novel.

My previous experience with this author is reading two previous novels. This one was close but not at the same level as the two earlier novels. She has earned a position as a Will-Read author. If the teaser interests you, I do recommend reading it. I am looking forward to reading her next novel. I rate this novel with four stars.

I received this novel's free prepublication e-book version through NetGalley from Oceanview Publishing. My review is based solely on my own reading experience of this book. Thank you, Oceanview Publishing, for the opportunity to read and review this novel early.

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Don't Ask, Don't Follow by Mary Keliikoa is a highly recommended suspense novel set in Portland, Oregon, that seeks to solve a murder and find a missing person.

Beth Ralston, a paralegal at her father's law firm, has had enough mingling at the office party so she heads back upstairs to her office to rack up more billable hours. She finds Craig Bartell, her boss, has been murdered and she sees a woman who appears to be her sister Lindsay, fleeing the scene. Beth is unable to catch her sister and, while she waits for the police, she discovers Lindsay left her phone in Beth's bag. The phone had an unsent message on it: "Don’t ask. Don’t follow."

Lindsay is an investigative reporter, so sometimes it is hard to reach her, but she never drops completely out of touch. In an attempt to find Lindsay, Beth begins to look into the material that Lindsay was investigating and trying to expose. It involves large scale corruption, secrets, and betrayal that may involve even her own family.

Beth is a determined, fully realized character who has a strong bond with her older sister that serves her well as she tries to find Lindsay. Since Don't Ask, Don't Follow is told through Beth's first person point-of-view, trusting and believing in her findings is important.

The information Lindsay was chasing also involved Craig and makes her question not only the information Lindsay was collecting but also their parent's truthfulness. It is clear as events unfold that someone is follow Beth and means her harm. The detective is also fast on the same trail and keeps encountering Beth while he investigates.

The plot does seem to slow down in the middle after it initially takes off at a quick pace. There are also a few plot points that require a suspension of disbelief, especially toward the end. The journey to the final denouement is interesting, full of action, and will hold your complete attention. Thanks to Oceanview Publishing for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

The review will be published on Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

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This is a well written, well paced, character driven thriller that grabbed me from the first page and didn't let go until I had read it straight through. The constant intrigue, not knowing who to trust, and the unexpected twists made this an enthralling read. Highly recommended

Thanks to NetGalley and Oceanview Publishing for an advanced reader copy

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Thank you NetGalley and Oceanview Publishing for the copy of Don't Ask, Don't Follow by Mary Keliikoa. I had no idea where the story was going and that reveal blew me away! If you love family intrigue and long-held secrets, this is the perfect book for you! 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

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Beth Ralston finds her life spiraling out of control when she discovers her boss murdered and her sister Lindsay, apparently, fleeing the scene. Beth is a paralegal working in her father's firm and her sister is an investigative journalist. When her sister disappears after the murder, leaving only her cell phone with a message saying "Don't ask. Don't follow," Beth is determined to ignore her sister's message and find her.

As Beth tries to track down her sister, she learns that her sister was investigating a possible black market baby selling scheme. Poor women were told that their babies died after they gave birth at a special clinic. A DNA report seems to indicate that Lindsay's genetics don't match their parents which makes Beth wonder just how long this baby stealing racket has been going on.

As she checks out the adoption agency and some of the women she could track down, she's sure that she's being followed. Her father, who is busy running for mayor, tells her to back off and let Lindsay get out of her own mess. He tells her to avoid the police detective who is investigating the murder claiming they had run-ins at a trial that prejudices him against her father.

Not sure who to trust, Beth finds herself discovering all sorts of things about her family and learning who she can really trust.

I enjoyed this fast-paced thriller.

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Thank you Netgalley for the ARC of this book. This story gripped from the first page to the last. Very suspenseful and kept me guessing.

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Don't Ask, Don't Follow by Mary Keliikoa is a heart-pounding thrill ride of a book that grabs you from the very beginning and doesn't let you go.
Keliikoa unravels a tale of secrets, greed, dysfunctional family, exploitation, trust, and power, using a fast pace and a relatable and sympathetic main character in Beth Ralston to reel the reader in. The book is well-written, meticulously crafted, and gripping, and it's difficult to put down once you get started. The discoveries Beth makes in her search for her sister and the killer of her boss are meted out in order to maximize suspense and enjoyment.
I am thrilled to have received a copy of #DontAskDontFollow from #NetGalley.

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Thank you ThrillerBookLoversThePulse & Oceanview Publishing #partner, for the advanced e-copy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Follow in exchange for my honest review.

Somehow this is the first book I’ve read by Mary Keliikoa but it certainly will not be the last. I’m not sure how I haven’t heard of her before now, but I won’t be making that mistake again…I’ve already added her other books to my tbr as I wait to see what she writes next.

This book grabbed me from the get-go with quite an explosive beginning and kept me engaged and guessing all the way through! It is a complex, layered tale that is full of secrets, and a cat and mouse game unlike any other and I was so not prepared for where it ultimately headed, the twists coming hard and fast at times, keeping me on my toes all the way up to the very end.

I love a good sister story and while this one is told all through the one sister’s point of view, I found that bond of sisterhood to be such a deep motivating factor on Beth’s part. The character development of both sisters, all told through Beth’s eyes, was done so well that I really felt I knew both of them, as well as the other characters. This makes it quite easy to become more emotionally invested in the story, which I found myself doing, feeling as desperate as Beth was to know what happened to Lindsay.

If you enjoy a suspenseful, addictive read, that is equal parts thriller and family drama, this one is for you!

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4.5 stars rounded up to 5

Don’t ask. Don’t Follow. Beth is used to those words from her older sister Lindsey. But once Beth finds Lindsay fleeing the scene of a murder, those words will serve to push her to continue searching for her missing sister. What lies ahead is a treacherous path filled with family secrets and lurking danger.

I really enjoy family mysteries and complex sibling relationships and Don’t Ask Don’t Follow delivered on both fronts. I felt for Beth and her deep rooted desire to belong and to be loved. And I truly enjoyed her journey from a workaholic rule follower to someone impulsive and driven by her love for her sister.

Anyone who consumes a lot of thrillers will probably put the pieces together faster than Beth (shoutout to all Sherlocks out there) but to me that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story overall. If you enjoy character driven murder mysteries, you will definitely want to check out this one!

A huge thank you to @thrillerbookloversthepulse Oceanview Publishing and NetGalley for my ARC!

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There’s a lot of new thrillers getting us very excited over at @thrillerbookloversthepulse and one of these is the upcoming new thriller #dontaskdontfollow by @mary.keliikoa.author 🤩🤩

𝑫𝒐𝒏’𝒕 𝒂𝒔𝒌, 𝒅𝒐𝒏’𝒕 𝒇𝒐𝒍𝒍𝒐𝒘… this was the secret code between Beth and her sister Lindsay… usually preceding Lindsay getting up to some shenanigan or two…

When Beth discovers her boss murdered, followed by a glimpse of Lindsay pegging it down the hall, she discovers an unsent text on Lindsay’s phone reading “𝑫𝒐𝒏’𝒕 𝒂𝒔𝒌, 𝒅𝒐𝒏’𝒕 𝒇𝒐𝒍𝒍𝒐𝒘”…

From there, Keliikoa delivers a suspenseful, and brilliantly paced, cat and mouse chase. I thought Beth’s character development was great, and the twists certainly kept me guessing.

A brilliant character-driven thriller with family drama aspects, I highly recommend you add this one to your TBR!

4.5 stars rounded up!

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