Review: Don't Even Breathe by Keith Houghton

Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (April 18, 2019)

From Florida homicide detective Maggie Novak has seen hundreds of brutal murder cases, but when she is called out to investigate the charred remains of a young woman, in what appears to be a Halloween prank gone wrong, she is confronted with a twenty-year-old secret. The body is formally identified as that of school counselor Dana Cullen, but a distinguishing mark makes Maggie look again. She believes it is the body of her school friend Rita, who perished in a fire twenty years ago.

Maggie’s hunt for the truth behind the murder takes her back to a cruel high school trick she’s desperate to forget. And when another body turns up, Maggie realizes she too may be the target of a sinister plot creeping toward its final act.

Maggie needs emotional distance to do her job, but she’s so close to this case that she can’t even breathe. Will Maggie be able to uncover the truth of who wanted Rita dead? Or will her past mistakes catch up with her first?

My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

I'm still wondering why I kept reading this book when it was so improbable that while I was reading it, I kept shaking my head. Don't get me wrong, there were times when I thought this had the makings of a good story, but then the author went in a different direction (maybe trying to go for a shock and awe factor), and failed. 

To begin with, Maggie somehow immediately realizes that a burned beyond recognition body is that of her presumed dead best friend? The best friend who ironically died in a fire twenty years ago. She bases this fact of a missing part of a pinky, a driver's license photo (even though there is a different name on it), and an old photo of the two of them together taken when they were teenagers. Ok fine. But shouldn't you still follow procedure and obtain dental records? Do something to confirm the ID one hundred percent? And following that train of thought, if it IS your best friend, then just who (or what) is buried in her coffin? These are questions that are overlooked completely which honestly, I would have rather seen these plot-lines developed than to read about every little detail the characters do that add nothing to the story. 

The pace of this story is something else that I had an issue with. As I mentioned above, there was a lot of attention to detail paid to things that as a reader, I didn't care about. I don't care about her relationship with Steve at least to the extent that Maggie likes to analyze it. Even the information we get about events that had happened in the past come across as tedious as best. Honestly, I think this novel could have been trimmed down by at least 50-75 pages or more and still gotten the point across. 

This being the first novel in a series, I am at this time, unsure if I will continue on with it. If another happens to catch my interest, I may give this author another chance, but at this point, it is doubtful.

                              Don't Even Breathe is available from

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