Published by A. J. Lape on August 23, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Action & Adventure, Fiction / City Life, Fiction / Crime, Fiction / Hispanic & Latino, Fiction / Mystery & Detective / General, Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Police Procedural, Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Traditional, Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Women Sleuths, Fiction / Romance / Action & Adventure, Fiction / Romance / Police & Law Enforcement, Fiction / Thrillers / Crime, Fiction / Thrillers / Domestic, Fiction / Thrillers / General, Fiction / Thrillers / Psychological, Fiction / Thrillers / Suspense
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Trust no one. Suspect everyone.
Gutierrez's organization is in turmoil. A mysterious figure is inciting AVO soldiers to carry out unsanctioned hits, and despite his best efforts, he’s unable to uncover the mastermind behind it. In the midst of the chaos, Rivera draws him into a counterfeiting sting. As they delve deeper, they uncover a dangerous link that might leave them both underground. Will they eliminate the threat and keep their partnership concealed, or will they be exposed before they can take action?
After finishing the third novella in the Rivera and Gutierrez series by A.J. Lape, I want more of these characters. Don’t get me wrong, the author does a fantastic job of writing an entertaining and cohesive mystery with plenty of character development in the 190 pages of this book, but I need to know what happens next in this thrilling series.
To sum up this installment, both Detective Ruby Rivera and AVO gang leader Gutierrez are in a downward spiral–both professionally and personally. Rivera has gotten too caught up in her undercover work, so much so that she’s mixing undercover Ruby with real-life Ruby–and that can be very dangerous to an undercover detective. Gutierrez’s entire life and organization are being turned upside down by a few traitors in the gang. Both Ruby and Gutierrez’s mistakes lead to even more dangerous situations, and once the heat is on both of them, they know that only they have each other’s backs and no one else can get close to the truth.
Ruby is dealing with so much pressure to get things right: at home with her teenaged, angst-filled brother, at work with her peers and bosses, and from herself and her loosening grip on who she is. Her ex-boyfriend Jimmy is back in the picture, but can she fully let herself be with him again, knowing how it turned out before?
Gutierrez has a fellow AVO leader breathing down his neck to take over his area. At the same time, a traitor in his organization is doing their best to undermine Gutierrez’s legitimate business dealings. When the bodies pile up around him and then Ruby, he knows their path has gone down, ending in their deaths. He can’t help but feel an affection for Ruby, even though they both use each other to get the info they need or the backup they can’t get legitimately. As Gutierrez hangs on by a thread, he’ll have to slip into his cold-blooded killer persona- a headspace he doesn’t want to be in.
I give Of Vice and Men a five out of five. The danger and action are nonstop in this installment. Ruby and Gutierrez are both barely hanging on here. They both make mistakes they usually wouldn’t make if they were more focused on everything. As always, the writing and dialogue flow so well, leading to a very fast-paced novella and distinct characters that change throughout the text. The brightest spot for me was seeing so much Paddy here, Ruby’s first-line supervisor at the LAPD. He’s such a great character, and I’d love to see more of him in this series, as well as the Darcy Walker series. I highly recommend this series and all of A.J. Lape’s books. OF VICE AND MEN is a page-turner that leaves you wanting the next installment ASAP.
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About A.J. Lape
A. J. Lape is the author of the top-rated Darcy Walker Series, Detective Ruby Rivera Novella Series, and 15 Saddles Motor Cycle Club novellas. She lives in the unpredictable and chaotic weather of Cincinnati with her husband, two daughters, a dog, and hamster.
Graduating from the hills of Morehead State University with a Master’s degree in Communications, she double-majored in English and journalism but basically went to grad school because she wasn’t ready to grow up. A PI wannabe, she stops crime daily through her characters while adding a dose of hope, humor, faith, and edge-of-your seat thrills. If the FBI ever checks her computer, she may be wearing prison-orange due to the “wiki” articles she researches—all, of course, in the name of career research, insomnia, and straight-up boredom.
A perfect day for A. J. consists of writing in her favorite recliner, feeding her addiction to Coca-Cola, then lounging in her pajamas by 8PM. And sometimes a late night walk with her husband where she stares at the sky and contemplates the mysteries of the universe. She swears by two things: God is real, and so are aliens—and she hopes to one day be beamed up.
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