21 Weeks is a series that was originally released one week at a time by the author. It follows Detective Beck Nash, a newly promoted, and not particularly popular, homicide detective as she tackles the biggest case she has ever seen. A case which spans 40 years and which her colleague, Det. Mick Bishop, is intimately aware of. The serial killer she hunts has a love of torture. He tortures his victims in creative and creepy ways, and tortures and torments the police hunting him as well. Week by week Beck gets deeper and deeper into the dark and twisted world their killer inhabits, and with the help of her friends and colleagues, slowly she gets closer to the man who has eluded capture for so long.
This series is available for purchase in both week by week novella length books, or in 3 parts (weeks 1-7, weeks 8-14 and weeks 15-21). I read it as a “thrillogy” and can highly recommend it, although none of them stand alone, so once you start, be prepared to commit through to the thrilling conclusion in week 21.
Detective Beck Nash is the lead character in this story, and she is painfully well written. Beck grew up on the tough side of the tracks, and grew up faster than she should have, but this has turned into her strength. Through the supporting cast of characters, we gradually learn more and more about Beck and what drives her, and I was not disappointed. Beck has a group of friends (including her younger brother Leo) who she has known almost all of her life, and it is these characters who slowly build the character of Beck for the reader. She is a bisexual character, and while it didn’t bother me at all, some readers may be put off by the references and scenes involving her sexual relationship with her ex-partner from Vice, Detective Trevor Cunningham. There are definitely some sexual references regarding Beck’s friend Carmen as well though, so the story seems fairly well balanced in that department. Beck comes across sometimes as a bit self-loathing, but mostly she is just a super well-written character with a personality and history as twisty and dark as the killer she is hunting.
As for the other characters…. RA LaShea is an absolute virtuoso at creating and bringing to life fantastic characters with lots of depth and authenticity to them. There are so many in this book that I can’t even describe them all (you’ll just have to read the book!!). Cops, victims, friends, family, and a crazy, dark and torturous serial killer. LaShea is well known in lesfic circles for crafting exquisite characters, and this book is a fine example of just how well she does this. Some of the characters in this book crawled under my skin and continue to inhabit that space, days after I have finished reading. I suspect they will for a long time yet.
The Writing Style
This book is of epic proportions. It has taken me a long time to read, not because it was difficult to read, or because I struggled to get into it, but because there is SO much going on I found I needed time to digest all of the storylines. The story is so well written, I cannot say enough how much I loved this book.
I love the concept of a story that is broken down into week by week chapters for consumption. And RA LaShea initially released one week at a time, so it was almost like a TV series on paper. The story reads like a TV series along the lines of SVU, or Criminal Intent or something, and I wouldn’t be shocked if it didn’t have roots in fanfic. That being said, the pace of the story and the build to the climax is far more movie-like than series-like in my opinion. The last few chapters were like a steam train at full speed, and I really couldn’t put it down (even when my eyes were screaming at me to close at 3 am a couple of nights in a row!) By the end of the book there was a mixture of relief and sadness that it was over. And it was one of those reads that took me a few days to recover from, you know, the ones where you can’t read anything else because they just don’t compare.
I LOVE that this is a true thriller. There is faint hints of romance at times, there is sex between the lead character and at least 2 other characters, but this book is truly a suspense thriller at heart. And boy is it good. The serial killer storyline is so well thought out and written that I could happily read it again and again and I feel sure I would find something different to love about it every time.
Not a con for everyone, but Beck is an active bisexual character. So there is specific and semi-graphic reference to f/m sex. It isn’t necessarily a big part of the storyline, but it is there, so consider yourself notified. If you can get past that though, definitely try reading this book. This is a super long book, so for some the time commitment will be too much.
I have never come across anything like this in the lesfic genre, or in the mainstream. I have never read Riley LaShea before, but I now see what all the fuss is about. LaShea has managed to intricately craft characters who are intriguing, intelligent and authentic. This story is captivating, the kind of story that gets inside your skin and makes a home there, so you can’t shake it off when you’re done even if you want to. I sincerely hope that LaShea has plans to write more of Beck Nash, because this was a faultless example of what great thrillers are all about… adrenaline, mind manipulation and great characters who are raw, real and perfectly flawed. If you read nothing else this year, you should read this. I loved it.
Excerpt from 21 Weeks by RA LaShea
“Bishop?” She knew the name well. Not only had it been dropped in her conversations with Martinez as that of one of her superior officers, but, a few months ago, it was the backbone of every piece of inter-departmental gossip that crossed Beck’s desk. “Aren’t you the one who got your partner killed?”
His fury flashing so fast, Beck had only time to get to her feet and duck into the oncoming punch. So, Bishop wasn’t lying. It wasn’t because she was a woman. She always knew how much they truly accepted her as one of them by how willing they were to kick her ass when she had it coming.
Reaching out in a daze, she found Bishop’s shirt front, delivering three quick jabs that knocked him off balance, and, together, they stumbled into her desk.
“What in the hell is going on here? That’s enough.”
Popping away, Beck felt the nosebleed start and reached up to catch the blood before it could fall.
“What is this?” Lieutenant Martinez demanded, but no one rushed to explain. “You’ve got thirty seconds. Once of you better tell me what happened.”
“It was me.” Beck knew he wasn’t bluffing. Thirty seconds, and she was looking at suspension in her first week. Even taking Bishop with her wasn’t worth that stain. “I started it.”
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Note: I received a free review copy of 21 Weeks by RA LaShea. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.
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