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Monday 11 May 2020

‘The Black Pill’ by L.J. Sellers

Published by Spellbinder Press,
4 February 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-73454181-6 (PB)

Take two law enforcement officers, one a police detective, the other an FBI agent, place one in Oregon and the other in Arizona, give them each a fiendishly difficult case to crack, then buckle up your seat belt and enjoy the ride! 

Jamie Dallas is the agent, currently working out of Phoenix, Arizona.  She is terrific at her job in the FBI because she loves living on the edge.  When a series of rapes take place in Vancouver, it’s believed that one man is responsible for drugging the young women victims and then committing the sexual assaults.  The Bureau, however, wonder whether the lone wolf might also be part of a dangerous new group of so-called ‘involuntary celibates’. The group have set up a website with the dubious title of, Not Normal, their posts are violent and extreme and they may even be linked to white supremacist groups.  Jamie is assigned to flush out the perpetrator.  First, she will try to bait him by pretending to be a student in the bars and clubs where previous victims were abducted and secondly, she will set up an online persona that will allow her to infiltrate the dark web group and, with luck, identify the perpetrator.  

Meanwhile, in Oregon, a woman driving along a remote road hits a body that she didn’t even see was lying there.  When the police arrive, they immediately see why; the body is wrapped in black plastic held together by elastic cords and with scuff marks that suggest it may have been dumped, or fallen, from a vehicle.  Detective Wade Jackson is called out to investigate and meets up with his old colleague Lara Evans who is already in attendance.  The victim is male but has no identification on him.  The two detectives set to work to discover who the man is and why he ended up on an intersection in the middle of the night.

As Dallas and Jackson work on their respective cases certain facts begin to overlap and the two investigations gradually converge. 

This is a firecracker of a novel.  It is the first L.J. Sellers thriller that I have read but, as her website reveals, both Jackson and Dallas already have their own series.  This book brings them together and the result is explosive.  The pace is breakneck as the twin investigations move towards each other and a breath-taking dénouement. There is much to love in this narrative but I’d really like to highlight the contrasting characters of Jackson and Dallas, for all their shared complexities they are a perfect foil for each other and the anticipation of them eventually colliding as the book progresses is delicious.

The Black Pill is a gritty and unrelenting journey through a world that is thankfully outside most people’s experience.  As a crime fiction reader, though, it is an exhilarating place to be!  Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

L J Sellers writes the bestselling Detective Jackson mystery/thriller series, a Readers Favorite award winner, as well as provocative standalone thrillers. Her novels have been highly praised by Mystery Scene, Crimespree, and RT Reviews, and her Jackson books are Kindle bestsellers as well as top-ranked novels. L.J., who resides in Eugene, Oregon where her novels are set, is also an award-winning journalist who earned the Grand Neal. When not plotting murders, she enjoys standup comedy, cycling, social networking, and attending mystery conferences. She’s also been known to jump out of airplanes.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction. 

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