The Third Eye by Jenna RaeThe Third Eye by Jenna Rae is a mystery set in a small town in Northern California. It’s a compelling read and it kept me guessing even when I thought I had everything figured out.

Captain Brenda Borelli is unwilling to let her police department close the case on the murder of a rookie named Tami Sheraton. The newly minted police officer was gunned down by her partner. When the partner’s body turns up in a seedy motel room, dead of an apparent suicide, Brenda thinks it’s a coverup by officers from within her own precinct. Brenda doesn’t know who she can trust when she begins to suspect corruption not only in her department, but also in the city’s government.

Brenda enlists the help of her ex-girlfriend, Tori. This isn’t an ideal situation. Tori is a high-ranking officer in the department and six months ago, Brenda found her in their bed with another woman.

Can Brenda solve the murder and figure out if she wants to start over with Tori or is one mutually exclusive of the other?

The Characters

I liked Brenda from the get go. I think there is nothing more attractive than a woman who is good at what she does, and Brenda is an excellent cop. I enjoyed watching her work through this case on her own, following each lead and paying attention to her gut instincts. Brenda isn’t just an extremely capable detective. I savored all the moments where I got to see Brenda reflect on the demise of her relationship and disillusionment with her job. It was in these quiet instances that I most related to her.

Tori is the embodiment of the term “ice queen”. I was torn between disliking her and hopelessly falling for her. She is prickly, aloof, and detached but it’s clear that she regrets her actions and wants Brenda back. In her own way, Tori does everything she can to help Brenda and redeem herself in Brenda’s eyes, but I was never quite sure if it was going to be enough.

The Writing Style

Rae does a great job of keeping this story on track and unfolding at a good pace. I never felt like I was getting lost in the minutia of specific clues that took me off on a tangent and away from the heart of the mystery. There are a lot of moving parts to this narrative and at no time did I lose track of the characters and what their motives might be.

The book is written in the third person from Brenda’s point of view which is perfect for this story. So much of the book focuses on Brenda and the way her mind works. I enjoyed the scenes with Brenda pacing back and forth in her apartment piecing together every scenario, determining how human instinct was most likely to dictate each suspect’s motive and applying her knowledge of the people in her community to the case. Rae describes these scenes so well that I felt like a fly on the wall in Brenda’s home.

The Pros

As a bonus, there is a wonderful group of retired, old-school detectives who offer Brenda their help in solving one piece of this complicated mystery. They may be well past their prime, but their enthusiasm to be back in their element infused this story with a bit of lightheartedness.

The Cons

It’s not hard to figure out who the “bad guy” is. This didn’t bother me so much because there is a dearth of shady accomplices who fit into this puzzle and that’s where I had to apply my amateur sleuthing skills.

The Conclusion

I had fun reading this straightforward mystery in which the romance was definitely a subplot. I read so many romances each year it felt a little like a vacation spending some time with a story that didn’t involve awkward first dates or misunderstandings blown out of proportion.

Excerpt from The Third Eye by Jenna Rae

Brenda smiled. One of the things she’d always appreciated was Tori’s quick mind. She missed their best conversations, the one that made sense to no one else because so few of the words were spoken aloud while the ideas flowed seamlessly over and around and through each other. It was dizzying, those first years together, when she was still getting used to someone understanding her thoughts.

Her smiled died. She couldn’t imagine sharing that connection with anyone else. She reminded herself she’d had other relationships before Tori and would find someone else when she was ready to do so. She’d been telling herself that same thing for months. And just like every other time, it sounded like a lie.

She shook her head to clear it. She had to figure out what happened to her old partner, and standing around moaning over her personal problems wasn’t going to accomplish that. Tori was right. They should have kept things professional between them. But she’d been unable or unwilling to listen to Tori as usual.

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