Death in a Dark Alley (Spectrum Series: Book 2) by Bradley Pay

Publisher:

Date of publication: April 30th, 2021

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Suspense

Series: Spectrum Series

The Killings Begin—Book 1 (review here)

Death in a Dark Alley—Book 2

A Body Washes Ashore—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Bradley Pay is back with a jaw-dropping sequel to The Killings Begin! Travel across the world and dive into the complex hearts and minds of Tracey Lauch and a cast of unsuspecting new characters in Death in a Dark Alley. Boasting the Spectrum Series’ iconic fusion of contemporary romance and psychological suspense, Bradley Pay has created another tangled web of love, loss, and an insatiable desire to kill.

Tracey Lauch may be a murderer, but he is still a man. Although his childhood abandonment trauma began decades ago, now his compulsion to strangle women who resemble his mother has begun to evolve. Outrunning his past, embracing love in the present, and creating a future free of investigation proves increasingly complicated.

Isabelle’s life in Brazil is burdened with mistakes and abandonment, too – but not in the same way. She falls in love with all the wrong men at all the wrong times, and her best friend Frank shows his true colors when, over and over again, he is not there for her when she needs him most. Aside from the stark difference that Isabelle is not a murderer, she and Tracey both desire love, a life partner, and the warmth of a family. 

But what does Isabelle’s story have to do with Tracey? How can an innocent trip to Strasbourg, France, become a heart-stopping event that changes their lives forever?

Peek behind the curtains of this cold-case investigation and catch an intimate glimpse inside the characters’ lives.


First Line:

“Alone time with you is always nice,” he replied as he look down at her leg and ran his fingers suggestively along her silky thigh and under the edge of her skirt.

Death in a Dark Alley by Bradley Pay

When I got the paperback for Death in a Dark Alley, I expected this book to pick up after the murder of Mari. Instead, the authors did something interesting. They backtracked the story to the late 1980s (when Tracey killed his mother) and introduced two new characters, Isabelle and Frank, while giving more detail about Tracey’s previous murders in Raleigh. At first, I was a little confused and wondered why these two characters were so special. But, the authors did tie Isabelle and Frank to Gia (and her friends) and Tracey. Once I figured that out, it made reading the rest of the book much more enjoyable.

Death in a Dark Alley is the story of Frank and Isabelle. Isabelle is a woman who dreams of being the captain of a steamboat or cruise ship. Frank is her best friend who has the reputation of a playboy. While close growing up and throughout college, they drift apart after Frank discovers Isabelle’s relationship with his uncle, Victor. Frank is also going down the wrong path, and Isabelle and Victor want nothing to do with it.

Intertwined in this story is Tracey’s. Once he kills his mother, he is careful with who he kills. Wanting to stop, Tracey starts taking cruises with Spectrum Cruise lines…where Isabelle is a captain. How do Isabelle and Tracey’s paths meet? What will happen when they do? How does Frank figure into this?

Death in a Dark Alley is the second book in the Spectrum Series. While this could technically be read as a standalone book, I highly suggest reading The Killings Begin first. It gives more background into some of the relationships mentioned in the book and Tracey’s reasons for killing his mother.

This book takes place all over the world. Besides taking place in the United States (mainly NYC but some scenes in Texas, Washington DC, and North Carolina), it takes place all over Europe and in Brazil. I loved seeing the different locals! Some people might find it busy, but I didn’t. I loved that each chapter (or a couple of chapters) was in various settings.

The main characters (Isabelle, Frank, Tracey) were well-written and well-fleshed out. The secondary characters (Victor and Lydia) added depth to the story. I particularly liked Lydia’s character because she dealt with everything life had thrown at her.

  • Isabelle—She was my favorite character in the book. While she had terrible taste in men, she did have a good head on her shoulders. She worked hard to get to where she was. I loved reading her chapters because while they could be sad, they were also joyful (like when she found out she was pregnant with Frankie).
  • Frank—While I felt terrible for him at first (very domineering father, permissive mother), I started not to like him when he brought Isabelle to New York City when they were 18. The more I read about him, the more I disliked him. He was selfish and thought of no one but himself. Instead of being happy for Isabelle and Victor, he flipped out. And he took advantage (at first) of Lydia. I wasn’t surprised when things started to go south for him, but I wasn’t expecting what happened to happen.
  • Tracey—I liked a brief look into Tracey’s earlier life (after he was adopted). For a serial killer, he was a pretty nice guy. I also liked the look into the cold cases that went along with his storyline. Honestly, I was rooting for him not to kill the entire book and was disappointed when he started back up in Russia.

Death in a Dark Alley fits perfectly in the mystery/thriller/suspense genres. While it wasn’t a mystery about Tracey being a killer, I did wonder what Tracey and Isabelle had to do with each other. That led to the suspense angle. I was kept on the edge of my seat, wondering when it would be revealed and why. Also suspenseful for me was watching Tracey fight his demons. The thriller angle came into play at the end. Because of spoilers, I won’t say what it was, but it was a good one!!

I love Isabelle’s storyline. I liked seeing her growing up. Her storyline was so rich and detailed that I felt like I was there and wasn’t expecting the ending. There were parts of that storyline that didn’t make sense (her abortion and its aftermath) at the time but made perfect sense once she and Victor got together.

While I didn’t like Frank (see above), I did like his storyline. I saw how he grew (or didn’t grow) as a character. I didn’t understand why the authors wrote him the way they did at first (spoiled man baby), but it made sense as the book continued. I wish the author talked about more of his criminal exploits (I was very interested), but I get why they weren’t.

Tracey’s storyline was the most interesting to me. As I mentioned above, I was rooting for him not to kill (while understanding that he had to). I also was on pins and needles, trying to figure out the connection between Isabelle, Tracey, and Frank.

The end of Death in a Dark Alley was explosive. I was not expecting what happened to happen. I had to take a break and process it for a minute before continuing with the book. It was that good. The authors did not wrap up any storylines (instead added to them). I cannot wait to read book three because I want to see where everything is going.

Three things I liked about Death in a Dark Alley

  • The characters (they were well fleshed out)
  • The storylines (were amazingly detailed)
  • The ending (took me by surprise)

Three things I disliked about Death in a Dark Alley

  • Frank. I thought he was a waste of space for most of the book (well, until the end)
  • Tracey gave into killing when in Russia. I was so upset about that.
  • What happened at the ending.

I would recommend Death in a Dark Alley to anyone over 21. There are sexual situations (not graphic), language, and some mild violence.


If you enjoyed reading Death in a Dark Alley, you will enjoy reading these books:

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