Cut to the Bone
by Ellison Cooper

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martins Press, and Ellison Cooper for a free electronic ARC of Cut to the Bone in exchange for an honest review!

Cut to the Bone by Ellison Cooper is the third and latest book in her Special Agent Sayer Altair series (released on July 14, 2020).  The first two books in the series are Caged (released on July 10, 2018) and Buried (released on July 16, 2019), all published by Minotaur Books (St. Martin’s Press).

Before I say anything, I want to stress how glad I am that I continued with this series because each book just gets better and better. You all know that the first book, Caged, was not my favourite book; it was a good story, but I found it to be more of a predictable and stereotypical police procedural and serial killer thriller, which took away from the overall reading experience for me.  Buried, on the other hand, was a far more enjoyable read, and I loved every second of it.  You can find my reviews for both of these books here.

For this review, I will not write my own synopsis because a lot happens in this book that is linked to the two previous books and I do not want to give away any type of spoiler by accident… plus, the book does it better, anyway.

Here is the full synopsis:

A bus full of high school students has disappeared from Washington D.C. and FBI neuroscientist Sayer Altair must hunt down the culprit who has a link to her own past.

After grieving the death of her fiancé and almost losing her job, Agent Sayer Altair is finally starting to rebuild her life. Her research into the minds of psychopaths is breaking new ground and her strange little family is thriving. But Sayer’s newfound happiness is threatened when she is called in to investigate a girl’s body left inside a circle of animal figurines below a cryptic message written in blood. When they discover that the dead girl is one of twenty-four missing high school students, Sayer quickly realizes that nothing in this case is what it seems.

As the investigation draws her in to a tangled web of fake identities and false leads, the trail soon begins to point directly to her own life. Now, Sayer must confront her painful past to uncover her connection to the deranged killer if she hopes to save the missing teens and protect everything that she loves.

What I LOVE about this book:

  • I love the mystery, the suspense, the murder and overall plot of the novel.  The fact that the book involves an entire busload of missing children was such a unique aspect (to me, at least!) that I have not seen in any other book (yet).
  • I love how this book was completely unpredictable.  I could not guess how the story would unfold; there were a few twists that completely blew my mind, as well as the last paragraph of the book. I honestly cannot wait to see what happens in the next book!
  • I love the characters, and I’m sure that I will keep saying this about all of Cooper’s books.  Cooper has created such well-rounded characters that are likeable, brilliant, and so diverse.  The main character, Sayer, is a brilliant African-American woman and neuroscientist; Tino is part of the LGBTQ community; Ezra is an agent who lost of both of his legs on duty; Adi is an orphan that Sayer has adopted into her family, and everyone else is amazing as well.  I can guarantee that there is a character that every reader can connect with.  You also can’t forget the two FBI pups that work alongside them all, Vesper and Kona.
  • I love Cooper’s writing and how all of her books are made up of short chapters; this keeps the momentum of the book up and allows the reader to read the book at a faster pace.
  • I also love how Cooper’s books deal with violence and death; she approaches both of these aspects in a realistic manner without being cringe-worthy and over the top gory.

Overall, this book was incredible.  It ended on such a high note and I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book.  If you are looking to start a new crime series, this is definitely one to consider!

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