PJV Quickie: LUST, MONEY & MURDER by Mike Wells was a surprise listen for me. I expected the book to be good, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. The story might not have been the usual character driven, romantically charged  novel which frequent my shelf, but the intense plot and the obvious knowledge of the author kept me completely intrigued. LUST, MONEY & MURDER by Mike Wells is a good listen on Audiobook, especially with Sue Sharp as the narrator. If you are looking for a thriller, with political and a few hinted romantic undertones, check out this series. You shouldn’t be disappointed.

Review: Let me state from the beginning that in it’s original form, Wells divided this 250 page book into three parts and published them as eBooks. Lucky for me, Books 1, 2 & 3 were all put together in audiobook format, so cliffhangers were not an issue – even though I can see if you were to read these one by one, how they could be. The books follow the main character,  starting at the beginning of her life, for a very flushed out back-story. The character is Elaine Brogan, a very pampered child of a doting father, who while not wealthy would do anything for his daughter. One of those anythings just happens to be steal and cheat. So, when Elaine decides to be a model and gets caught up in some sort of counterfeit operation, her father, instead of admitting Elaine got the money, takes the fall and ends up in prison. Prison is too much for Elaine’s father and he takes his own life, leaving Elaine to fend for herself. Luckily Elaine is smart and driven and she is set on revenge. She blames the man from the modeling agency for her father’s death. She has to find him, she has to put him in jail, like her father went to jail. The only way to do this, she surmises, is by becoming an agent in the Secret Service counterfeit division. So, Elaine focuses on that goal and nothing else.

While the book dragged in the beginning, it accomplished what Wells set out to do. It set the stage, Elaine’s frame of mind, her goals and her motivations. I thought how Wells flushed this out was well done, even though most books will do this quite differently, usually starting the stories with present day and having the character flashback to their past in clips. But, Wells delivered the whole back-story. This technique in the story allowed for the author to “teach” the reader about counterfeiting as Elaine learned about it and the steps she took to establish herself as an expert. Well’s knowledge of intaglio printing, the process of printing money, counterfeiting operations and the government agencies that investigate these operations was the highlight of the novel. I love learning new things while reading fiction and I certainly learned a few things by reading LUST, MONEY & MURDER. As the book progressed, we move away from Elaine’s childhood goals of revenge and on to Elaine’s struggle as a Secret Service agent, which was also a great part of the novel. Elaine is a strong character and she is highly driven throughout the book. It was fun reading about how she made it through training, only to be relegated to nothing field offices and chauvinistic bosses and then finally to her dream position as an expert in spotting counterfeit bills.

It was a good story. Well written and full of wonderful facts.  This book was also well worth the read if you are into a bit of thrills. LUST, MONEY & MURDER sets a fast pace and the main character is enjoyable. I enjoyed this story from the beginning to the end. With the addition of Sue Sharp’s narration, who nailed Elaine perfectly, I highly recommend you grab this one via audiobook. Mike Wells was a very competent author and while this book was self-published, I only noticed a few editing flaws and hiccups. The book was very tightly put together.

Some low points of the novel included the fact that the story goes through a few “tell me” moments, where the author does a lot of telling and not the nicely rendered “show” narration. Granted there is a lot of information, so this is understandable. But the information overload at times led to lackluster characters. Elaine was a three dimensional character, but the secondary characters never really came to life for me. The romance in the novel was just slightly talked about, leaving me not feeling it, in turn, leading me to have no emotional desire for an HEA for both characters. Again, this is pretty common in these types of mystery/thrillers, but a girl can hope. The focus of the novel was the plot and the mystery, which it did well and carried the story. I think Wells did a phenomenal job for doing this independently. If you would like to support a great Indie author, check out Mike Wells and his LUST, MONEY & MURDER series.

Recommendations: This is an adult thriller. If you enjoy a good mystery, or more conspiracy charged thrillers, give this one a listen. Fans of novels by Dan Brown or John Grisham might get a kick out of this one.