Friday, December 28, 2012

Amanda Kyle Williams: Stranger in the Room

This is the second book in Amanda Kyle Williams' Keye Street series. I think that you could read this as a standalone novel as there is not much related back to the first book, some of the relationships that Keye has and some of the previous events are mentioned but overall they do not affect the plot. However, I really enjoyed the first book The Stranger You Seek, so you may just want to pick it up for a good read. Williams picks up a few months after The Stranger You Seek, and Keye is still trying to comprehend and deal with what has happened to her, but she has bills to pay and White Trash needs to eat so she takes on more cases than she really should.

Everyone thinks that Miki is just off her Meds again and is seeing things, hearing noises; I mean Miki is an alcoholic and a drug user so why should anyone believe what she has to say. Good think that Miki has a fairly famous cousin, well famous for many of the wrong reason and Keye Street has been taught that she cannot say no to family. Miki is convinced that she is being stalked and wants Keye to figure out who especially when she claims there was someone in her house. APD Lieutenant Aaron Rauser also needs Keye's help when a thirteen year old boy is found strangle and he needs Keye's help with the profile. However, Keye also needs to pay the bills, so she has accepted a paying job investigating the contamination of cremated ashes, even though it sounds like the missing cow from the year before, but it pays the rent. With all of this going on Keye needs to keep her focus on all the cases if she has a hope of getting everyone out alive.

It took me awhile to get into this book. I am unsure why as I enjoyed the first novel, but for some reason this book was unable to grab my attention right off. I'm not sure if it was the flow, or the book picked up a little too far after the first (I believe it is a few months later) but the first few chapters in the book were unable to really grab onto me. However, once I got past this funk in the beginning I realized once again why I enjoyed the first book, Keye Street. Keye is a great character who is strong, cynical, witty and flawed, and well very real. Her struggle with addiction, her adoption and her relationships are what draws the reader in, and then watching her work on cases, while attempting to quell her need for a drink is fantastic.

Williams knows how to write characters, there is depth in all the characters that she has created, but the main focus is on Keye. I appreciate that Williams does not let Keye forget that she was an alcoholic, there is always that need for a drink and with job that Keye does there is a need and temptation constantly. I liked that Williams took the time to show more of how Keye struggled with her relationship with her mother and south and what it was like growing up as a Chinese child in the American South (and really shows how some people minds have not changes). I felt that the reader gets to know a lot more about Keye in this novel that the first novel, especially with the introduction to Keye's cousin Miki, who is a lot like Keye, even if she does not want to think that, but Miki is also things that Keye thinks that she could never achieve. 

I like that Williams has the intersection of two different lifestyles with Keye, the one where she helps Rauser out and the one where she does different types of private investigator work, in this case cement mix in urns instead of a family members ashes. Of course this is taking place in a small town and Keye in a small town you know that there are going to be some funny moments. I like that Williams uses the small town setting to add the humor and give the reader some relief from the intensity of her other cases. Some people may find the intersection of the two different cases to be a negative because it takes away for a while from the main plot, which is Miki’s stalker but what people do not realize, is that this is what most investigations are like. An officer, detective or private investigator will have multiple cases they are working on, and at times cases are put aside to work other. So yes, the main plot does take the back seat to the ashes investigation, but this just makes it more true to life. I personally liked the funeral investigation, more than the case that involved Keye's cousin Miki. I found that the funeral investigation was more interesting and involved more of Keye's detective work, than Miki's case, until later in the book. Additionally, the ashes investigation had everything that a reader is looking for, a mystery, some thrills and humor, it is just a nice change from the ordinary, and as I stated above, a nice change from the seriousness of the other cases.

Although I do not think that this book is as good as the first it is Keye as a character that will keep me coming back to Williams for more. As long as Williams keeps Keye as authentic and true to her character as possible I will always be back for more. If you are looking for a new up and coming thriller author to read, Amanda Kyle Williams is the author for you, as her books have everything you could want in a thriller read; Mystery, strong and interesting lead character and of course some thrills.


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  1. This one sounds like a good read. I've never heard of the series before so I'm going to have to check it out! Great review.
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

  2. Nice review, I am a new follower looking forward to other reviews.