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on May 23, 2016
This novel isn't perfect, but it's an excellent step-out for first-time author JL Brown, and I want more.

Loved:
-Brown knows and fleshes out her scenery. When she describes where the characters are walking, living, doing, you get to know it, even if you've never been. From Crystal City by DC to Seattle, you get to know your settings.
-Though she can be a little preachy with the politics some times, she does a great job of really presenting the why behind the conservative and liberal mindsets, and she makes humans out of the lead political characters Cole Brennan (loving and dedicated father who truly cares about the country in his own way, not just a cartoonish Rush Limbaugh-type) and Whitney Fairchild (Junior senator balancing a presidential campaign, extramarital affair scandal who, though she holds leftish views, understands and values the compromise necessary to represent all Americans well.)
-The diversity! It's not all tough white dudes and soft-hearted women there to heal their wounds! This novel looks like the real world. There are good and bad women and men of all ethnic backgrounds. I know the Bechdel test is for movies, but this book passes :)
-Jade is clearly the head of the investigation, but Brown does a good job of really fleshing out the rest of the team, and you feel invested in them. I hope to see them in future novels, too.

Didn't love: In the vain of too many thriller heroes/heroines, Jade is a loner with a sour past that keep her from connecting well with others. Unlike some other novels' leads, she isn't arrogant and condescending to others, as much as she is stubborn and nervous to share the burden. This leads her to be unnecessarily irritable on occasion, to the detriment of those around her. This isn't bad, per se, I just wish she could be a little more likable.
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on October 5, 2016
FBI agent, Jade Harrington’s vacation is cut short. She is thrown into a whirlwind of an investigation of a serial killer. This particular serial killer seems to have a pattern, but can this agent and her team figure out who the murderer actually is?

Whitney Fairchild is running for presidency in hopes of becoming the first woman president of the United States of America. But, when secrets come up, will be able to win the election?

Finally, Cole Brennan, a radio talk show host that does not hide his true thoughts and feelings. He isn’t afraid to let the world know his views on politics, but how does it affect his family?

The storylines of these three characters are intertwined and are in for a roller coaster ride when the serial killer continues to literally take people off his hate list.

When first considering in reading and reviewing this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Since I knew that parts of Don’t Speak consisted politics, I was leery. In general, I don’t follow much politics as it tends to bore me. However, Ms. Brown has done something amazing in her read. Even with the chapters that spoke about the presidential campaign, I found myself wanting more.

Alternating each chapter with a different character perspective helped in keeping my heart racing and anticipating what is to come. From the world of hardworking Jade, to the stresses of presidency, to even the killer’s thoughts, I was on my toes the entire time.

I will say when the book first began, it felt like a whirlwind of new characters and locations throughout the U.S. However, after a couple of chapters with each character, I did not have an issue in keeping track.

I would highly recommend this well-written book to those who enjoy murder mysteries. Also, to those who aren’t sure if they like books that contain some politics. This has a wonderful balance of both!
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on September 29, 2016
As an avid reader and somewhat of a book snob I somewhat cringe at debut novels because, well, they just aren't that well written sometimes. I sure can't say that about Don't Speak, the debut novel from J.L. Brown. This book did not read as a debut novel but as one from a seasoned author. A fascinating storyline along with sharp writing made this book impossible to put down.

This book had me hooked from page one. I enjoyed how the author combined the political, legal, and entertainment aspects of the story into one storyline that was easy to follow and easy to believe. I also liked how the author changed from third-person telling of the story to first-person in the killer's chapters. This made me feel like I was in the mind of the killer and it really added to the story. I also loved how the political storyline seemed as if it was ripped from today's headlines. This really added a layer of authenticity to the story and made it seem real.

I loved the fact that the author kept me guessing until the end as to who the killer was. I have to admit I was shocked when the killer was revealed and their story was told in full. And then there's one more surprise left for the readers. When I realized what the surprise was I have to say it was a jaw dropping moment. This just made me love the book even more and also the author's ability to keep me on the edge of my seat and guessing from beginning to end. J.L. Brown is a gifted storyteller and this book proves it.

I can't wait to read the next Jade Harrington novel. Jade is a character I enjoyed reading about and want to know more about. She is strong yet vulnerable and is a character that most females can relate to. I'm hoping the next novel will keep Jade's group together and we can learn more about those characters as well.

If you enjoy reading thrillers you will enjoy this book. Although there are some graphic descriptions in the book nothing is too gory. (Believe me, I am someone who doesn't like to read really gory, yucky scenes in books and nothing in this book made me cringe.) Now I'm off to anxiously await the next installment in the Jade Harrington series.
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on March 26, 2017
Don't Speak provides an interesting read for several reasons. First of all the storyline is very politically orientated. The plot is about a serial killer who murders conservative radio-talkshow hosts. The main motive of the killer is the way these commentators rant about liberals, equal rights and topics like abortion and same sex marriage. I haven't come across many thrillers that address these subjects. Secondly the pace is good and the tension remains high.
(Possible spoilers ahead!!) Surprisingly though, I guessed who the killer was half way through the book and also what his link with one of the main characters was. As I don't consider myself a greater sleuth than the average reader, that must mean there's a considerable amount of predictability to the story. I shrugged off my initial hunch because in my view the killer's occupation couldn't possibly have given him the time to meticulously plan his murders. But in the end it did turn out to be him, which makes the solution somewhat improbable.
So, 3 stars for a well written thriller, but no more than that because of it's predictable nature
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on April 9, 2017
Loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes carefully crafted intrigue. The murders are a bit violent but not as bad as many. The political issues I found fascinating. I could wish that some were backed up with some facts as Barry Eisler does in his books. The main character is complex and easy to love. Also it was great the way the author threw in characters that caused one confusion as to who the murderer was and their motivations.
One of the best books I've read this year and I am looking forward to many more Jade mysteries.
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on July 21, 2016
When a popular conservative talk show host is murdered during a dramatic presidential election year (like this one), FBI agent Jade Harrington gets the call to investigate.

Credit where credit is due: the investigative pathway is first rate – a realistic look at how such crimes get solved. The drama permeates the pages and the novel is really hard to put down.

The underlying liberal versus conservative theme maintains a deft balance, tipping a bit, perhaps, to the liberal side. It’s not difficult to recognize some of the real-world players shadowing the fictional characters.

Jade is no ordinary FBI agent. Her character development is also first rate, as is that of the unseen killer.

The ending will give you chills. Well recommended.
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What happens when you mix politics with murder? In this case a book I couldn't put down! This is a book that keeps you guessing from the beginning. Who's killing the conservative radio talk show hosts? That's the answer FBI Special Agent Jade Harrington and her group are looking for. Throw in a presidential election with a look at the dealing that goes on behind closed doors and you have a winning story line. The characters are fleshed out and realistic and the author's take on conservative vs liberal politics is spot on. The ending left the book open for another story with Jade and Whitney and I hope the author has plans for a book 2 because I'd definitely love to read more.
Independent reviewer for Romance Authors That Rock.
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on February 25, 2018
I can think of a goodly number of people who perhaps should read this story. It's that incendiary in ways that speak to exactly how the political scene in America is today. The perspective is a fascinating view of what's taking place right before our eyes. This is a story so well plotted that I was surprised at every turn. It moves that fast and is what kept me involved in suspense, mystery and a need to know what was coming next. It is one of those stories that allowed me to feel I was part of the action. I like that a lot when I am deep into every aspect of a novel, keeping track of what the characters say, think and do. All the while, I was right beside the main character, Jade Harrington, as she struggled, in spite of her advanced expertise, to find the killer antagonist who has disrupted her life and work on a personal level. It's a complex psychological assault on her skill as an FBI Agent. I felt this too was timely to address the rigors that people experience in that profession. Even now, as we are bombarded by those who would speak out against agents of the FBI who serve our nation every day and night to keep us safe gave due concern as I read about how it might be for them. This story begs us to look at our opinions with a bit more open-mindedness.

There are events in Don't Speak that make it an entertaining read as well as providing insight or perhaps just makes us think about things in a way that may be different than we thought. I believe to craft a storyline such as this with some of the surprises that occur along the way, shows immense understanding of the art of fiction writing. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a thriller kind of suspense. I certainly did. Further, I have purchased the next novel in this series with great expectation of what surprises lay ahead.
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on March 12, 2018
Don't Speak is the first novel in the Jade Harrington series of thrillers. Jade is a former Stanford basketball player who played briefly in the WNBA and overseas, before switching career paths and joining the FBI. Her latest assignment: track down the TSK, the Talk Show Killer who is brutally murdering conservative talk show hosts nationwide, both radio hosts and internet bloggers. This takes place during a presidential campaign, so you know the rhetoric is ramped up, and emotions are running high.
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I like reading thrillers, but try to avoid politics. There's enough political drama on the news; I don't need it in my books. Brown, however, has created a gripping tale of Washington politics and all of the associated back-stabbing and deceit associated with that word. This story is smoothly written, and the author has created a cast of characters that readers will like to come to know as the series develops. The backstories and pasts of the characters are not fully formed, which is usual for the first book in a new series, but Brown has started off on a high note.
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My Rating: 3.75/5 stars
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on February 20, 2018
It's bad enough living in today's political environment, I don't want to read about it too. And, had I known the book's plot, I would have passed on it. Regardless, from the political standpoint, you have an incumbent conservative president and his liberal Democratic opponent - but the ideologies espoused are similar to those from the 2016-17 campaign. The book's other focus involves the murders of conservative radio hosts by a killer who wants more "air time" devoted to liberal viewpoints so Americans can make informed decisions on the issues. There is exhaustive detail on how the FBI finally zeroed in on a suspect. Admittedly, when finally revealed, the suspect was not my first choice. Even more surprising was the motivation behind his actions ... which I did NOT see coming. NO spoiler alert here! You'll have to read the book .. or at least the ending!!
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