September 6, 2014

Book review: The Mirror Stage by J.J. Stone

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Ada Brandt wants everyone to think she’s normal. A writing professor at a local Seattle college, she personifies the saying “those who can’t, teach” after a few failed attempts at becoming an author led her to the classroom. She owns a chic little house, drives a sporty car, and comes home to her dog after a long day at work. You’d never know she’s the daughter of one of Seattle’s most infamous serial killers — a fact Ada has labored her whole life to bury.

Then the FBI’s BAU team arrives to investigate a recent murder spree and Ada is strong-armed by the BAU’s bull-headed lead agent James Deacon into helping with the investigation. As Ada and the BAU dive deeper into the case, two things become glaringly apparent: this is not a typical murder case, and catching their suspect is only the beginning of an investigation that will alter the lives of everyone involved.

The Mirror Stage is the first installment of The Imago Trilogy and is J.J. Stone’s debut novel.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

I've read a lot of books in the thrillers/mystery genre, and The Mirror Stage is one of the better ones I've come across. The fact that this is a debut book from a new author makes it even more impressive.

I found the book to be a well-paced page turner. An hour into reading it, I was a quarter of the way through, and I didn't want to stop. The tension built throughout as I wondered how the race between the killer's thirst for more victims and the authorities' attempt to find the killer would play out.

The characters were also engaging and well developed. Ada wasn't a typical can-do-everything protagonist that I sometimes find in this genre, nor did it seem like her traumatic background weighed her down too much despite its obvious influence on her. The author struck a good balance and therefore created a believable character. Even some of the side characters, especially James, were given depth and feeling.

As is commonly the case with the first book in a series, the ending left a hint of more to come. However, the major plot line in The Mirror Stage was resolved nicely, so readers aren't left dangling. Nevertheless, I'm eagerly anticipating reading the next book in the Imago Trilogy.

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