Review ~ A Deeper Darkness by J.T. Ellison


Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Mira; Original edition (April 17, 2012)
Genre: Mystery
Series: Samantha Owens, book 1
ISBN-10: 0778313204
Amazon, The Book Depository, IndieBound,


As a medical examiner, Samantha Owens knows her job is to make a certain sense of death with crisp methodology and precision instruments.

But the day the Tennessee floods took her husband and children, the light vanished from Sam's life. She has been pulled into a suffocating grief no amount of workaholic ardor can penetrate—until she receives a peculiar call from Washington, D.C.

On the other end of the line is an old boyfriend's mother, asking Sam to do a second autopsy on her son. Eddie Donovan is officially the victim of a vicious carjacking, but under Sam's sharp eye the forensics tell a darker story. The ex-Ranger was murdered, though not for his car.

Forced to confront the burning memories and feelings about yet another loved one killed brutally, Sam loses herself in the mystery contained within Donovan's old notes. It leads her to the untouchable Xander, a soldier off-grid since his return from Afghanistan, and then to a series of brutal crimes stretching from that harsh mountainous war zone to this nation's capital. The tale told between the lines makes it clear that nobody's hands are clean, and that making sense of murder sometimes means putting yourself in the crosshairs of death.


My thoughts ~ 

It’s painfully obvious that Nashville medical examiner, Dr. Sam Owens, is struggling to hold on.  Despite throwing herself into her work, her passion for her job has been lost, and she has developed an obsessive need to wash her hands.  Her grief is palpable. Even two years later. Will any amount of time heal her heart? Nothing will bring back what she has loved and lost the most ~ her beloved husband and her adorable children, swept away by the Tennessee floods. Now all she can do is put one foot in front of the other and find a way to find, if not joy, at least peace in her life.

Then just when Sam doesn’t think she can handle one more thing, she receives a call from Eleanor Donovan, mother of her ex-boyfriend Eddie,  and the one who may she shouldn’t have let get away. Eddie, an ex-Ranger and now security consultant, was murdered in what the police are calling a car-jacking, but Eleanor doesn’t believe it.  She would like Sam to come to DC and perform a second autopsy on Eddie to help her prove he wasn’t the victim of a random act of violence.
Sam’s not sure if she’s strong enough to handle doing this for Eleanor. She can’t face the untimely death of another loved one, the pain she knows she will see on Eleanor’s face, or even Susan, the wife Eddie leaves behind.  
What Sam doesn’t expect to find is a series of deaths, all seemingly random at first, then determined to not be so random after all.  Now she must put aside the grief she not only still carries for her family, but for Eddie as well, and figure out what, or who is behind these horrific deaths. She must work with a team that is unfamiliar to her, on turf that isn’t her own, to find justice for someone that once held her heart.
While I miss Taylor Jackson and her crew (see All the Pretty Girls, 14, etc.), I am so happy that J.T. decided to write Sam’s story. We’ve always had glimpses into her life, but it is nice to have gotten to know her on a more personal level, to not just know her as Taylor’s BFF. The author did a great job showing how a strong, independent, hard-working woman can also be vulnerable, in pain, and struggling to find her way back to the person she used to be. Sam is flawed, like so many of us, and I think that makes her even more relatable, more human, more likeable.
A Deeper Darkness is an engaging read with a new protagonist who you will immediately empathize with, and who you will cheer on as she struggles to find her footing and the happiness that she so rightfully deserves. The author has created a diverse supporting cast and a multifaceted plot that will constantly surprise the reader, and at the end will leave you breathless.  
About the author ~ 

J.T. Ellison is the international award-winning author of seven critically acclaimed novels, multiple short stories and has been published in over twenty countries. 

A former White House staffer, she has worked extensively with the Metro Nashville Police, the FBI and various other law enforcement organizations to research her novels. She lives in Nashville with her husband and a poorly trained cat, and is hard at work on her next novel. 

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