No Time to Breathe (Lisa Jamison: Book 3) by Lori Duffy Foster

4 Stars

Publisher: Level Best Books, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Member’s Titles

Date of publication: April 11th, 2023

Genre: Mystery

Trigger Warning: Murder

Series: Lisa Jamison

A Dead Man’s Eyes—Book 1 (review here)

Never Broken—Book 2 (review here)

No Time to Breathe—Book 3

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N | Kobo

Goodreads Synopsis:

Journalist Lisa Jamison wants to blow off some steam after an argument with her boyfriend, so she heads to her friend Ricky’s kickboxing studio for an early morning workout. She expects to find Ricky alone, setting up for his first class of the day, but someone was there before Lisa, uninvited. Ricky is dead, shot only moments before she arrived, and now Lisa is a suspect in his murder. Lisa wants two things: to clear her name and seek justice for Ricky. But the deeper she digs, the more the danger mounts. Can she find Ricky’s killer before the killer eliminates the last obstacle, silencing Lisa for good?

First Line:

Three days ago, the sidewalks of Seneca Springs were covered in a thick blanket of fresh, wet snow.

No Time to Breathe by Lori Duffy Foster

No Time to Breathe takes place a year or so after the events of Never Broken. Lisa is still working at the paper, but layoffs and cutbacks threaten her job. She also lives with her boyfriend, whom she met during her investigation in Never Broken. An argument with her boyfriend sends Lisa on a jog, leading her to her friend Ricky’s kickboxing studio, where Lisa plans to blow off some steam. But Lisa wasn’t expecting to find Ricky dying of a gunshot wound as soon as she walked in. Lisa also wasn’t expecting the police to make her their main suspect. Lisa decides that she needs to do two things: clear her name and find Ricky’s killer. But Lisa is running against the clock because whoever killed Ricky has her next on their list, and they won’t stop until Lisa dies. Can Lisa find the killer before they kill her? What is the motive behind Ricky’s murder?

No Time to Breathe is book 3 in the Lisa Jamison series. While readers can read this book as a stand-alone, I recommend reading the first two books to understand the backstories and relationships shown in the book.

No Time to Breathe is a fast-paced book in Seneca Springs, New York. The book lagged slightly in the middle (when Lisa was juggling everything), but the author got the book back on track.

The main storyline in No Time to Breathe is Ricky’s murder, Lisa’s investigation, and her being a suspect. I was a little irritated at how the police handled his murder. Until the FBI got involved, they were content to pin the murder on Lisa, even though she didn’t have her gun on her (she locked it at home), and some people backed her up on where she was right before the murder. The investigating officer was a jerk to her and didn’t take her seriously. He was a smug idiot when he dropped the fact that she was having an affair with Ricky (she wasn’t), and he wasn’t willing to listen to her. It took two attempts on her life, one which almost killed her, and the FBI getting involved for Officer Jerk to take his laser focus off Lisa and look at the evidence she gathered (and there was quite a bit). Once that happened, the storyline smoothed out, and things went as I thought they would. But still, that officer (well, Detective) was an idiot.

There were a couple of secondary storylines that supported the main storyline perfectly. The one that caught my attention was the storyline with her boyfriend, his ex-partner, her and her boyfriend’s relationship, and the relationship he had with his ex-partner. I enjoyed that Lisa and Patrick didn’t have a lovey-dovey relationship. They had issues (mainly due to a lack of time spent with each other), but they were working through them. And when Gloria appeared back in their lives, Lisa wasn’t thrilled about it. Neither was Patrick, but he didn’t share that with Lisa. I thought it would be the making of a messy love triangle, but then the author spun that around and ended that idea pretty fast.

I loved Lisa in this book. Not only was she going to solve Ricky’s murder (and shove it in Officer Jerk’s face), but she was going to keep herself out of jail. I will admit, I was scared for her towards the end of the book (how many times can one be hurt?) Her toughness shone throughout the book. Besides being tough, she was a great friend, and the author showcased it in the book’s last chapter.

The mystery/thriller/suspense angles of No Time to Breathe were terrific. The author did a great job weaving a suspenseful plot that kept me glued to the book. And the mystery angle was excellent, also. I honestly couldn’t figure out who killed Ricky and why. I did figure out a tiny part, but the whole picture was so much more than that. I didn’t see the twist in the plotline, and it left me shaking my head. Mainly because I thought the person behind the killings was already in jail (a tiny spoiler from Book 2). But the biggest twist came with what Lisa decided to do at the end of the book. Again, I wasn’t expecting the storyline to go in that direction, but now that I read it, I can see why the author wanted her to do that.

The end of No Time to Breathe was action-packed and kept me glued to the book (and yes, I know I repeated myself). Again repeating myself, but I was not expecting who the killer was or the reasons behind it. The author did wrap those storylines up, and I cannot wait to read book 4!!

I would recommend No Time to Breathe to anyone over 21. There is language, violence, and mild sexual situations.

Many thanks to Level Best Books, IBPA, Member’s Titles, NetGalley, and Lori Duffy Foster for allowing me to read and review No Time to Breathe. Any opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of No Time to Breathe, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Lori Duffy Foster

Never Broken (Lisa Jamison: Book 2) by Lori Duffy Foster

Publisher: Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members’ Titles, Level Best Books

Date of publication: April 12th, 2022

Series: Lisa Jamison

A Dead Man’s Eyes—Book 1 (review here)

Never Broken—Book 2

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Goodreads Synopsis:

The near corpse of a stranger had no idea where he’d been, how long he’d been there or who had kept him captive. But one thing intrigued journalist Lisa Jamison even more than his story: recent memories of a woman named Chandra Bower.

Seven years had passed since Chandra disappeared from Seneca Springs without a trace. Police investigators still compared DNA records whenever an unidentified body appeared, hoping to at least bring her family closure. Lisa still chased down leads from desperate family and friends, being careful to hide her investigations from an editor who thought she’d become obsessed with a woman who was clearly dead.

But this man had just seen her, sewing designer clothes in a dark, filthy basement with about twenty other men and women under horrifically inhumane conditions. And the sweatshop workers all had one thing in common: All were people of color.

A split-second decision to help the man takes Lisa on a race against time. His captors want him back, there is evidence someone on the police force might be involved and the man knows that if he were recaptured, they would torture him until he revealed the names of the two people who helped him escape: Lisa Jamison and Chandra Bower.

Lisa promised her teenage daughter she would stay away from the dangerous stories ever since her job had nearly gotten them both killed two years before. But she no longer has a choice. She must keep the stranger hidden while she gathers enough evidence to turn the case over to city police or the FBI. At least three lives—her own, the stranger’s and Chandra’s—depend on it.

First Line:

Lisa Jamison knew she should be taking in her surroundings, the worn brick buildings with shard-lined windows; graffiti so old the slang was almost retro; the stench from the nearby creek, which many of the deserted factories had used as their own waste dumps for decades; the cigarette butts; the crushed beer cans; the McDonald’s cups; the occasional used condom or syringe.

never broken by lori duffy foster

When the author approached me to read/review Never Broken, I had to think about it. When she emailed me, I was very behind in reading and reviews. But, I have a thing where if I start a series, I will finish it. That and the blurb, which interested me, were ultimately the main reasons I decided to accept the invite. I am glad that I did.

Never Broken had an exciting plotline. This book takes place two years after the events of A Dead Man’s Eyes. Lisa is a journalist covering a story in a very seedy area (that is about to be revitalized) when she discovers a sick man hiding in the back seat of her car. Saul tells Lisa an interesting story about illegal sweatshops and the mysterious people who run them. But her attention is caught he mentions the name of an African American woman who had disappeared years earlier. Deciding to investigate, Lisa needs the help of Dorothy to keep Saul safe. What Lisa finds during her investigation shakes her to her core. Can she oust the sweatshop owners and save the workers, including Chandra? Or will she have to choose between her job and her family?

Never Broken is book 2 in the Lisa Jamison series. Readers can read this book as a standalone. But, I do suggest reading book 1 to understand Lisa’s backstory. It is gone over, very briefly, in Never Broken, but it is more in-depth in book 1.

The main thing that I liked about Never Broken was that the author was able to take me into how investigative journalist does their job. I had a rough idea of how they did their job. But, I never knew how much work went into it. A good majority of the book was Lisa chasing down leads, casing the neighborhood where she thinks Saul came from and talking to the people in the community. I also didn’t realize how dangerous it could be. At one point, Lisa got run down by a car because she was coming close to where the sweatshop was. That sent chills up my spine and made me thankful that I didn’t pursue my high school dream of being a reporter.

I loved Lisa in this book. She was quick on her feet, and her intuition was incredible (chefs kiss here). She was also still a devoted mother, and when things started to get hairy, her first thoughts were of her daughter and how to keep her safe. She was also human. The horror and pity she felt when she first saw Saul was palpable. I also got why she didn’t trust anyone she worked with. She was almost killed by a fellow reporter, one she considered her friend, and she didn’t trust anyone other than her editor. So, I got why she was hesitant to bring Frank with her on interviews.

What do I say about Saul? He was a wonderful human being. The strength (mental and physical) that he showed throughout the book was terrific. Of course, he was damaged. Wouldn’t you be if you were forced to work in a basement and treated as less than a human? I loved seeing him open up to Dorothy and begin the healing he needed.

Dorothy was the other main character in Never Broken. She was mentioned a few times in the first book but never was made into much of a character. Well, in this book, she was one of the main characters. My heart broke when she realized she felt so protective of Saul because of an unspeakable loss she had experienced years earlier. Saul reminded her of her son. She was also a bad b*tch who wouldn’t give up Saul, no matter what.

The secondary characters fleshed out this book. They brought an extra depth to the storyline (not that it needed it). I was disappointed that Lisa’s daughter was brought down to a secondary character. She had no place in this story (other than helping Dorothy with Saul a few times). But, as the book went on, I got it.

The mystery angle was terrific. I was genuinely kept on edge about who was the sweatshop owner and who was behind Lisa’s assaults. The author did throw out some red herrings throughout the book. I thought I figured it out when an arrest was made. Then the twist came, and I was like, “Wait, what?

The suspense angle was also excellent. I wanted to know if Saul would make it. I also wanted to know if Lisa would figure out where the sweatshop was and who was operating it. The author did a superb job of keeping me glued to the book.

The end of Never Broken was a bit anti-climatic. The author wrapped up the storylines in a way that satisfied me. She also showed the aftermath of everything that had happened. I did like that Lisa got a little bit of happiness at the very end, and I wonder if that will morph into something for book 3.

I would recommend Never Broken for anyone over 21. There is violence, language, and no sexual situations. There are also scenes of modern-day slavery, a forced abortion, and talk of rape.

A Dead Man’s Eyes (Lisa Jamison: Book 1) by Lori Duffy Foster

Book Cover

Publisher: Level Best Books

Date of publication: April 13th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Series: Lisa Jamison

A Dead Man’s Eyes—Book 1

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple Books

Format Read: ARC

Received From: Author

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lisa Jamison has done well for a single mom who got pregnant at fifteen.
She’s a reporter at a well-respected newspaper and her teenage daughter is both an athlete and honors student. Though their relationship is rocky these days, Lisa has accomplished what she set out to do. She has given her daughter the kind of life she never had.
But all that changes when Lisa sees her daughter in the eyes of a dead man.
The cops call it a drug killing, but Lisa doesn’t believe it. She knows her ex-boyfriend was no drug dealer even though she hadn’t seen him in sixteen years. Lisa ignores warnings from her medical-examiner friend. She fails to heed barely veiled threats from the sheriff of a neighboring county. Instead, she risks her life and the lives of her daughter and their closest friend on a dangerous quest for answers.
The investigation leaves Lisa fighting for her family in a morbid, black market world she never knew existed. She learns that trust is complicated and that she, despite her cynical nature, has been blind. She trusted the wrong people and now she might have to pay with her life.

First Line:

It pays to be friends with the medical examiner.

A Dead Man’s Eyes by Lori Duffy Foster

I was intrigued when I read the plot for A Dead Man’s Eyes. A reporter shows up at the city morgue to view the body of a man she hadn’t seen in 16 years. That man is her ex-boyfriend and the father of her 15-year-old daughter. When told that his death was drug-related, she refuses to believe it. That starts her down a path where she soon finds that trusting the wrong people will kill her and the people she loves. Can she find out why he was killed?

A Dead Man’s Eyes is the first book in the Lisa Jamison series. Since it is the first book in a series, readers can read it as a standalone.

A Dead Man’s Eyes does get off to a somewhat slow start and stays medium pace until a little past halfway through the book. Don’t let the slow start and the pacing fool you; the author packs a lot into those chapters. Once Lisa watches the DVD, and the incident happens at the animal clinic, the book picks up pace. That pace doesn’t let up until the end, and then it explodes into something huge. Something I didn’t see coming and took me 100% by surprise.

I admired Lisa. She had overcome so much in her life to get to where she was now. She was the child of addicts and a teenage mother. She had made a good life for herself as a reporter. But, I wasn’t surprised when she decided to investigate Marty’s death. I mean, he was the father of her child. I would have done the same thing. I also like that while she was tough, she was also vulnerable. While it didn’t show at the beginning of the book, her vulnerability showed in the middle and end.

The mystery angle of the book was well written and gripping. The author did a fantastic job of keeping who killed Marty under wraps until the explosive climax. I couldn’t put the book down; it was that good.

I will warn that there is some gore in the book. There are a couple of scenes that made me shudder while reading them. The author also has in-depth explanations about the black market for human body parts. It was eye-opening and saddening.

The book didn’t end when the killers were caught. Nope. Instead, it amped up for a second, slightly less explosive climax. I figured something would happen with that person; I wasn’t expecting what happened to happen (if you know what I mean).

I am looking forward to reading book 2, even though the author didn’t leave any clue about what it was going to be about.

I would recommend A Dead Man’s Eyes to anyone over the age of 21. There is language. There is violence.