Deceived by Mary Keliikoa

Title: Deceived (Kelly Pruett Mystery #3)

Author: Mary Keliikoa

Published on: 10 May 2022

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers | Private Investigators

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

PI Kelly Pruett feels like she’s finally coming into her own. Her personal life is going well and she’s just landed a gig from an old client. The client’s granddaughter has gone missing from a woman’s shelter (which is funded by the client) and he wants to know what’s going on behind his back. There’s only one way to do it – Kelly must go undercover.

On her first night as an undercover homeless woman, Kelly chats up with a young girl. The next morning, the girl has gone missing. When Kelly tells her client about the drug dealings going on in the shelter, he takes her off the case. Kelly feels bad for the helpless women at the shelter and decides to investigate on her own. But it comes at a price…

Deceived is the third book in Mary Keliikoa’s Kelly Pruett Mystery series. The first two books – Derailed and Denied – had made it to my best books of the year list. Will Deceived also make it to the list? You will have to wait till December to find out. 😀


The story begins with Kelly getting ready to meet Bernie Sokol, an old client of her father. Bernie wants Kelly to find out what happened to his granddaughter Amber. She was at Loving Grace, a homeless shelter for women, before she went missing. She was working on something and had found some incriminating evidence on drug dealings going on in the shelter. But the bad guys caught up to her and she’s gone missing.

Kelly goes undercover and spends a night at the shelter. She chats up with a teenaged girl and tries questioning her about Amber’s whereabouts but receives no concrete answers. The next morning, the teenaged girl is missing from the shelter.

Kelly and her boyfriend/detective Kyle are going strong. Kelly’s daughter Mitz spends most of her time with her father Jeff and his girlfriend Linda (who was Kelly’s best friend until she slept with Jeff.) Arlene is Kelly’s ex mother-in-law and next door neighbor. The duo have a love-hate relationship but we see that change in this book. As the story ends, Kelly realizes family means a lot more than those who are related by blood.

Speaking of blood relatives, Hannah, Kelly’s half-sister has come over to stay with Arlene and Kelly’s not happy with this new development. She believes Hannah is up to something and Arlene might end up getting hurt or betrayed. This assumption also changes halfway through the story.

Kelly tells Bernie about her findings at the shelter and he tells her not to investigate anymore. When she tries to push, he ‘fires’ her from the case. But Kelly feels bad for the women – they are helpless and looking for support but they are taken advantage of at the shelter. Young girls are disappearing – one has died of drug overdose while two more have gone missing.


The drug dealings at the shelter is just tip of the iceberg. As Kelly begins to investigate, she faces a lot of hurdles – women at the shelter are not very helpful and her relationship with Kyle takes a blow when Kelly finds herself as a suspect in a murder investigation. If this wasn’t enough, Linda wants to renovate the house that Kelly and Jeff lived in – and eliminate all traces of Kelly (strip rugs, change furniture and repaint walls.)

But Kelly is not all alone – Hannah, Arlene and two homeless women – join hands and help her in solving the case. The list of suspects isn’t long but there are plenty of red herrings. Bernie had also opened a rehab center next to the homeless shelter – Kelly learns something explosive about the rehab center from her friend Jessica.

I was hooked on to the story and could not put it down until the end. Excellent character development (recurring characters) and portrayal (new characters.) Excellent storytelling and mystery that keeps one guessing till the end. Mind-blowing ending and then some more…:D Something to do with Kelly’s future adventures. Halfway through the case, Kelly wonders if she must give her PI career another thought – the job is dangerous and she does not want to be cut out from her family forever.

If you love engrossing and riveting mysteries, you might want to give Deceived by Mary Keliikoa a try.

I received an ARC from Camel Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.

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