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  • Writer's pictureThe Word Nerd Reviews

Nothing But Good ~ Kess McKinley

Nothing But Good is a debut novel for Kess McKinley, who has done a remarkable job of putting together a gripping novel that is part police procedural part romantic suspense.

The depth of Kess’ research is evident as she follows the FBI’s desperate search to uncover a serial killer that has haunted Boston on and off for years, the infamous Smiley Face Killer (known amongst the agents as Mr Smiley). The search for the killer becomes personal for Special Agent Jefferson Haines, when the killer targets his old college roommate and love interest, Fred ‘Finny’ Ashley. But is Finny a potential victim or a killer?

If I hadn't already known it, there is no way I would have recognised this book as a debut novel. The story begins with a bang and it's straight into the action. While this acts to grab the reader's attention, it also results in a bit of an info dump. There is a lot of history, world-building, and character introduction that needs to be done, and the instant action means that you need to know the information straight away, hence the info dump. This only lasts for the first chapter though, after that things smooth out allowing the author to expand and develop the world and characters she introduced in the first chapter.

This story is very slow burn. Although Finny is introduced in chapter 4, it is not until chapter 8 that Finny and Jefferson have a one-on-one conversation, and it's not until chapter 12 that the first kiss happens. For those of you who want to know, this book is what I'd classify as 'almost clean', there is sexual activity, and it is fully depicted, but there is no on-page sex (in the fullest sense). The book was very sweet, and it was very satisfying watching Finny and Jefferson overcome their history to finally come together.

This book is told completely from Jefferson’s point of view, but I couldn’t help but miss Finny’s thoughts. I think this would have added more depth, even if his POV only started after he and Jefferson had had the discussion about what had happened in college. Even so, Jefferson was a lovely character and it was a nice experience to be in his head.

This was a genuinely lovely book to experience. It is primarily a procedural/suspense story where the romance is a strong, but secondary theme, at least for the first 70% or so of the story.

If you enjoy the tension and detail of a well written police focused suspense then I would highly recommend grabbing a copy and supporting this new author.

I suspect great things are ahead for her!

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