Seconds to Die by Rebecca Bradley

Title: Seconds to Die (D.I. Claudia Nunn #2)

Author: Rebecca Bradley

Published on: 9 September 2021

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers | Police Procedural

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Second to Die is the second book in Rebecca Bradley’s D.I. Claudia Nunn series.

The story begins with D.I. Nunn waking up in a car trunk. At first, she tries to remember how she ended up in the boot. Then, it all comes back to her…

It began when Claudia Nunn received a drawing of a ‘crime scene.’ Well, she did not realize it was that of a crime scene because whatever was depicted in the drawing hadn’t happened yet. So how was Claudia to know if it was the work of a prankster or a serial killer?

Then, Claudia receives a phone call – a body is found in an old building. The crime scene is exactly matching the one in the drawing…

Claudia receives another drawing. This time, she and her team, the Complex Crimes Task Force, must catch the killer before he preys on his next victim. But with just a drawing of the crime scene and the victim as a clue, catching the killer red-handed is not possible. The killer claims his second victim.

Once again, Claudia receives a drawing and this time she and her boss decide to take help from media. The killer is not happy, though. He’s put in hard work with the drawing but the whole picture is not released to the media.

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I read the first book of this series a year ago and I did not like it as much as I expected to. It was mainly to do with the fact that Claudia was investigating a string of murders (serial killings) and the latest victim was Ruth, an undercover cop and Claudia’s step-mom. Dominic Harrison, another cop, was arrested for Ruth’s murder though initial evidence pointed to the workings of Tyler, the serial killer who was claiming single mothers.

It was not until halfway through the story that we readers were told Dominic and Claudia were related. Dominic is Claudia’s father. Claudia was investigating Ruth’s murder – cops are not allowed to investigate a case if they are related to the victim. Not formally, at least. But that wasn’t the case here.

Anyhoo, Seconds to Die turned out to be an engrossing and gripping read. A serial killer who sends drawings of crime scene to a D.I., that too before the crime occurs. Well, this is something new and interesting.

We have two mysteries here. Though the serial killings takes precedence, one cannot ignore the side story, especially as it involves Ruth’s murder. Yes, Ruth was supposedly killed by Tyler but months after sitting in jail, Tyler suddenly wants to sing like a canary.

He wants to talk to Claudia. She is initially not interested but when Tyler’s solicitor says this has something to do with Ruth’s murder, she readily agrees. Tyler gives her the reason for killing single mothers. He then plants a seed of doubt by saying Ruth did not have children so why would he kill her? Why stray away from the M.O.?

Dominic is struggling to keep Claudia from digging deeper into Ruth’s murder. The father-daughter duo are in the same team. When the pressure of catching the killer gets to her, she almost encourages a physical fight between a teammate and her father. The teammate had something to say to Claudia, not in front of the team though. When Claudia says no, Dominic interferes and reprimands the teammate, resulting in tension between the three.

The mystery behind the serial killings kept me guessing till the end. Claudia fails not once but twice. The failure gets to her – after all, two lives are lost. Then comes another drawing and the identity of the fourth would-be-victim is shocking!

The storytelling is excellent and character development is impressive. I an curious to know how Dominic’s involvement is going to change things for Claudia. It surely will, all right. Just a matter of time before things collapse and Claudia will find herself at the receiving end.

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