Annabel Lee

Mike Nappa

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - JOHN M. MUR­RAY

Rev­ell Soft­cover $14.99 (368pp) 978-0-8007-2644-7

This is a pow­er­house en­try in a sparkling new mys­tery se­ries.

The first book of a new se­ries—annabel Lee, by Mike Nappa—finds bick­er­ing PIS rac­ing to find a child prodigy locked in a bunker with a barely con­trolled guard dog, and ruth­less en­e­mies close on their heels.

The enig­matic Un­cle Truck rushes his niece, Annabel Lee, through a se­cret tun­nel into a for­ti­fied bunker with a hu­man-fin­ger-eat­ing guard dog. With a shal­low un­der­stand­ing of how to rein in the killer pup, Truck leaves Annabel locked be­hind a door, with in­struc­tions to not open up for any­one—even him. Mean­while, an ex-hus­band-and-wife team of pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tors are drawn into a mys­tery in­volv­ing Truck, a sin­is­ter doc­tor, hid­den trea­sure, and a silent as­sas­sin. The two join forces to piece to­gether the clues to find Truck’s trea­sure, un­aware that it’s Annabel. Annabel is not just Truck’s trea­sure, as the sin­is­ter doc­tor re­quires her for a shock­ing pur­pose.

Nappa’s first en­try in the Cof­fey & Hill se­ries is a fan­tas­tic start. De­spite be­ing the first book, it has a lived-in feel­ing with deep back­story and re­al­ized char­ac­ters. The tit­u­lar PIS have a tu­mul­tuous past, a rough present, and an optimistic fu­ture that bodes well for the con­tin­u­ing se­ries. The big draw for this story is of Annabel and her faith­ful care­taker, The Mute. He’s a for­mer spec-ops sol­dier in Truck’s em­ploy tasked with res­cu­ing and whisk­ing Annabel away be­fore a ruth­less doc­tor/sci­en­tist can get his hands on her.

Annabel is a fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ter with high in­tel­li­gence and a gift for lan­guages, de­spite a lack of for­mal ed­u­ca­tion. Cof­fey and Hill are also well fleshed out. Cof­fey’s ten­dency to com­pare her ex-hus­band to var­i­ous baked sweets adds a bit­ter­sweet touch of hu­mor. Their un­wieldy back­story is han­dled per­fectly; in­for­ma­tion is un­spooled as needed to keep the plot chug­ging along.

Annabel Lee is a thrilling and sus­pense­ful mys­tery re­volv­ing around a gifted girl, Un­cle Truck’s se­cret past, and a pair of flawed lit­er­ary PIS. The twin plots of Cof­fey and Hill’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion and Annabel’s true iden­tity en­twine de­li­ciously for a pow­er­house en­try in a sparkling new mys­tery se­ries.

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