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Book Review: Blessed are the Dead

Blessed are the Dead: A Gabriella Giovanni Mystery by Kristi Belcamino

Gabriella Giovanni, the narrator of Kristi Belcamino’s debut novel “Blessed is the Dead,” is the day police reporter at the Bay Herald. At 28 years old, Giovanni—as she’s known in the news room—has survived family tragedy and worked her way up the news room ladder to earn her current beat. Strong, compassionate, vulnerable, and completely dedicated to her career, Giovanni has sacrificed much to achieve her goals.

While lamenting her anemic love life, fending off the challenge of a new, young reporter trying to steal her beat, and struggling to deal with management changes at the newspaper, Giovanni hears of a possible missing child, Jasmine Baker, one nearly the same age as her long-dead sister at the time of her murder.

Chasing murders, suicides, and all things criminal might put a hitch in Giovanni’s dating life, but her determination to find Jasmine alive, and possibly solve her sister Caterina’s murder, put her squarely in the sights of a possible serial killer. Is accused child abductor Jack Dean Johnson the one responsible for the death of her sister decades prior, or is he just another con artist? Did he kidnap Jasmine, and is she alive? As Giovanni struggles to balance the search for justice for both her dead sister and the newly missing Jasmine, find her way through the emotional minefield of her personal life, and hold on to her position at the newspaper, she enters a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Johnson.

The novel reads like a heart-pounding, fist clenching car chase, suspenseful, terrifying, and exciting. Belcamino’s insider knowledge of life as a big city crime reporter, not to mention her experience interviewing a serial killer, bring an unmatched level of authenticity to this story. Gabriella Giovanni is a likeable, believable character. Belcamino adds an authentic supporting cast, sharp dialogue, and key setting details to grab the reader from the very first sentence, and never let them go.

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