I recently had the opportunity to read the first three books of Danielle L. Davis’ Sydney Valentine series. The series is a police procedural following the investigations of detective Sydney Valentine. Sydney is a sassy, down-to-earth protagonist who has realistic family relationships and believable dating drama. She feels very real. She takes her work seriously and treats her coworkers with respect. In every aspect of her work, she is a professional. I appreciated reading a detective series in which the detective actually followed the rules. Sydney never bends the rules to solve a case. She never spies on suspects, never searches their homes without a warrant, never trespasses where she doesn’t belong. I tend to get annoyed when cops in books and movies have to frequently bend or break the law in order to uphold it. I internally cheered a little every time Sydney asked a suspect to sign a consent form. If I was ever caught up in a homicide investigation, Sydney is the kind of detective I would want working on my case.
Book 1: The Protector
Cover Review: 7/10. The cover is crisp and portrays the feel and genre of the book very well. It just lacks that WOW factor that would make me want to pick it up off the shelf.
I have mixed feelings about The Protector. The first and longest in the series, The Protector introduces the protagonist, Sydney Valentine, and the main cast for the series, including her sister and brother-in-law, her partner, and other coworkers who will make appearances throughout the series. Of the three books, I found this mystery to be the most compelling. Bodies are found with Scrabble tiles in their mouths. As the body count rises, Sydney receives more clues that could lead to the killer. It really is a very exciting book! The big problem with this book is the sheer number of characters and names tossed around. It was difficult to follow the investigation because I had to keep stopping to figure out who they were talking about. I actually drew a flowchart to help myself keep track. Despite this one being my favorite of the series, I am giving it only three stars because of the constant who’s-who confusion. Don’t let that deter you, though! This one has the best ending of the whole series. It will really make you go, whaaat!?
Book 2: Criminal Negligence
Cover Review: 10/10. This whole series received new covers when I was still half-way through reading them. When I saw the new cover for this book, I actually gasped in delight. What a beautiful cover!
In Criminal Negligence, Sydney and her partner Bernie are faced with two separate crimes involving separate unidentified bodies. The first is found in a hot tub of a house belonging to a wealthy doctor. The second is found on a jogging trail, apparently a hit-and-run. These two deaths don’t seem at all related. Yet, as Syndey and Bernie uncover the clues, they find more evidence to connect the two murders. But how do you catch the killer (or killers?) when the bodies are unclaimed? I found this book the most frustrating of the series, which might have been intentional. The detectives seemed to spin their wheels a lot in this one, and it took me basically until the end to figure out the connection between the suspects and the crime. Crimes novel aren’t my normal read, though. So maybe the more experienced in this genre would figure it out before I did. Despite my frustration, this book had plenty of excitement and drama and the storytelling is solid.
Book 3: Mega Dead
Cover Review: 8/10. I don’t love this cover as much as Criminal Negligence, but it does make sense for the story and is very professional. I’m a total sucker for professional cover designs.
Mega Dead is the third installment of the Sydney Valentine series, in which detective Sydney Valentine and her partner attempt to solve the murder of Teena Travis, a judge on the popular talent show television series called Mega Star. Teena is the “mean” judge, whose brutal honesty is part of the reason the show is doing so well. Though it seems that she would have tons of enemies, her fans all loved her. With no real suspects, who could have possibly killed her? Of the three books in the series, this was the only one that I guessed right on the killer! I was very proud of myself. This book raised the stakes considerably when Sydney’s twin sister gets caught up in the drama. I finished Mega Dead in one sitting. It’s a page-turner!
If you enjoy mysteries, especially crime and police procedural mysteries, I recommend this series. There is some language, but otherwise, the whole series was surprisingly clean. A strong and believable female lead drives this series of murder mysteries that will keep you guessing. You can click any of the images on this post to go directly to the Amazon listing for these books.