Review: The Cipher (Nina Guerrera #1) by Isabella Maldonado

Print Length: 332 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer  (November 1, 2020)

From  To a cunning serial killer, she was the one that got away. Until now…

FBI Special Agent Nina Guerrera escaped a serial killer’s trap at sixteen. Years later, when she’s jumped in a Virginia park, a video of the attack goes viral. Legions of new fans are not the only ones impressed with her fighting skills. The man who abducted her eleven years ago is watching. Determined to reclaim his lost prize, he commits a grisly murder designed to pull her into the investigation…but his games are just beginning. And he’s using the internet to invite the public to play along.

His coded riddles may have made him a depraved social media superstar—an enigmatic cyber-ghost dubbed “the Cipher”—but to Nina he’s a monster who preys on the vulnerable. Partnered with the FBI’s preeminent mind hunter, Dr. Jeffrey Wade, who is haunted by his own past, Nina tracks the predator across the country. Clue by clue, victim by victim, Nina races to stop a deadly killer while the world watches.


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This book was a compelling read for me, but it wasn't without it flaws. The most glaring perhaps the fact that the FBI would allow Nina, the woman who was once abducted and tortured by this person years prior to actively work on the case now. 

As a character, Nina was interesting. A young woman lost and abused within the foster care system turns would-be victim of a monster at sixteen dedicates her life to becoming not only a cop, but an FBI agent. I enjoyed watching her overcome the obstacles thrown at her (especially when it came to the taunts from the Cipher and the lengths he went to to rattle her). I just wished that the rest of her teammates (with perhaps the exception of Wade), were as deeply fleshed out as Nina was. Even at the end of the book, I still could barely tell one person from the next as they all seemed to blend into the background, simply names on the page. 

In regards to the story? I will admit that it did have several dark undertones that some readers may find uncomfortable. And yes, you will have to suspend disbelief in parts (such as the ease in which some of the clues were solved and the way certain events happened). It flowed smoothly enough that it kept my attention, and I was curious as to how this chain of events would unfold. 

If you are a fan of shows like Criminal Minds and CSI, I am sure you will enjoy this story. I will read more from this author! 

                                                                                                       The Cipher from

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