Tuesday, June 7, 2011

REVIEW: The First Cut by Dianne Emley

E The First Cut by Dianne Emley is the May book selection for the Authors by the Alphabet online book club for the author last name beginning with the letter 'E.'

The First Cut is the first book in the crime fiction thriller series featuring female police officer and single mother Nan Vining of the Pasadena Police Department. The story begins with Vining returning to the precinct for work after a leave of absence she required to recover physically and mentally from a brutal attack while in the line of duty that nearly took her life months earlier. Within minutes of entering the precinct, Vining is recruited to investigate the heinous murder of Frankie Lynde, a young, beautiful female cop with the LA Police Department whose naked and brutalized body is found dumped in an arroyo in Pasadena. While some of her fellow officers think this crime may hit too close to home for Vining, she views this case as the perfect opportunity to prove to her colleagues--and more importantly to herself, that she's ready and able to get back in the game.

To complicate Vining's return to work, she secretly suffers anxiety attacks whenever she enters unfamiliar houses. Sometimes these anxiety attacks manifest themselves in the form of hearing voices from both Frankie Lynde and T.B. Mann-- the name Vining and her teenage daughter have given to Vining's unknown attacker "The Bad Man" who remains at large.

The First Cut starts out a bit slow introducing the primary and secondary characters, establishing the crime scene and other information, all the while without any strong character developments or progress in the plot itself. Eventually, though, the pace picks up and the book quickly transforms into a very intense police procedural for a disturbing set of crimes that left me turning the pages as fast as I could just to make sure justice was served.

This book's strength is definitely in the thoroughness of the police investigation and the specific procedurals as well as in the grim and disturbing profile of the murderer and his accomplice. Revisiting the events that led up to the murder of LAPD officer Frankie Lynde and witnessing the perpetrator initiate a new crime against a new victim was both disturbing and suspenseful. The weakness of the book, however, is that I felt Officer Nan Vining's character was short changed in the development area. Yes, we learn about her attack by T.B. Mann and how it still affects her, we learn about her relationship with her daughter and bit about a male colleague with whom she used to be involved and we also learn what a competent and intuitive cop she is--all of which invites the reader to empathize with and route for Vining's success. Which happens for the most part, yet I feel like we could have and should have gotten more intimately involved with Vining's character to really know and connect with her. Since this is the first book in a series, I imagine Vining's character develops more in the subsequent stories making her character and her stories even more compelling.

I gave The First Cut three stars on goodreads for "I like it." The series shows great promise and I intend to read the rest of the books in the Nan Vining series.


For links to other reviews and the Q&A among the book club members, visit Paula's blog HERE.

If you're interested in joining the Authors by the Alphabet Book Club, visit Paula's blog at the SIGN UP post. All are welcome and participation is flexible. Come join the fun! :)


  1. Great review, you nailed it. I actually considered not finishing it the first half was so slow but in the end definitely enjoyed it. I gave it a 3 1/2.

    I'm not sure if I will continue series though.

  2. I wonder if my library has this....... Great review, thanks for sharing!
    Hope your week is going well!

  3. I agree with you on the character development in later books. I liked Nan and will read at some point the next one to see how she grows, and if T.B. Mann is caught! Looking forward to your q-n-a :)

    Tomes Devotee

  4. Interesting review! I always enjoy a good thriller and it is the beginning of the series so maybe I'll give it a try even though you didn't love it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Lovely review Christine, thank you! Not sure if it's for me...I might be naughty and see how you find the next in the series :)

  6. Great review, Christine!

    For some reason, I'm not really fond of heroines with children. Dunno why ^_^; So I'm probably going to skip on this one...

  7. Fantastic review! I am interested in reading this book...probably because of my feelings towards the police world. I'll have to check it out sometime and see how my thoughts compare to yours. It's good to know that it starts out slow so I don't give up on it too soon.

  8. Thank you all for reading my review of The First Cut. Even though crime fiction thrillers aren't high on my list of go-to genres, I enjoyed this book.

    Deanna, you'd probably really enjoy this one because of the police world stuff!


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