Friday, October 12, 2012

Talyor Jackson series (#1-4) ~ J.T. Ellison audio reviews

I listened to the audio versions of these and as my links go to info on the print versions, here's the Audible page. The audio version is narrated by Joyce Bean who does a great job!

All the Pretty Girls
Mira Books
November 1, 2007
411 pages
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When a local girl falls prey to a sadistic serial killer, Nashville Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson and her lover, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin, find themselves in a joint investigation pursuing a vicious murderer. The Southern Strangler is slaughtering his way through the Southeast, leaving a gruesome memento at each crime scene -- the prior victim's severed hand.

Ambitious TV reporter Whitney Connolly is certain the Southern Strangler is her ticket out of Nashville; she's got a scoop that could break the case. She has no idea how close this story really is -- or what it will cost her.

As the killer spirals out of control, everyone involved must face a horrible truth -- that the purest evil is born of private lies.

Mira Books
September 1, 2008
410 pages
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Ten victims, each with pale skin and long dark hair. All have been slashed across the throat, the same red lipstick smeared across their lips.In the mid-1980s the Snow White Killer terrorized the streets of Nashville, Tennessee. Then suddenly the murders stopped. A letter from the killer to the police stated that his work was done.

Now four more bodies are found, marked with his fatal signature. The residents of Nashville fear a madman has returned, decades later, to finish his sick fairy tale. Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson believes the killings are the work of a copycat killer who's even more terrifying. For this monster is meticulously honing his craft as he mimics famous serial murders...proving that the past is not to be forgotten.

Judas Kiss
Mira Books
Janurary 1, 2009
395 pages
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It was a murder made for TV: a trail of tiny bloody footprints. An innocent toddler playing beside her mother's bludgeoned body. Pretty young Corinne Wolff, seven months pregnant, brutally murdered in her own home.Cameras and questions don't usually faze Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson, but the media frenzy surrounding the Wolff case is particularly nasty...and thorough. When the seemingly model mommy is linked to an amateur porn Web site with underage actresses and unwitting players, the sharks begin to circle.

The shock is magnified when an old adversary uses the sexy secret footage to implicate Taylor in a murder--an accusation that threatens her career, her reputation and her relationship.

Both cases hinge on the evidence--real or manufactured--of crimes that go beyond passion, into the realm of obsessive vengeance and shocking betrayal. Just what the networks love.

The Cold Room
Mira Books
March 1, 2010
401 pages
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Homicide detective Taylor Jackson thinks she's seen it all in Nashville--but she's never seen anything as perverse as The Conductor. Once his victim is captured, he contains her in a glass coffin, slowly starving her to death. Only then does he give in to his attraction.Later, he creatively disposes of the body by reenacting scenes from famous paintings. Strangely, similar macabre works are being displayed in Europe. Taylor teams up with her fiance, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin, and New Scotland Yard detective James "Memphis" Highsmythe--a haunted man who has eyes only for Taylor--to put an end to The Conductor's art collection.

Has the killer gone international? Or are there dueling artists, competing to create the ultimate masterpiece?

reviews below....

Book 1 ~ All the Pretty Girls

All the Pretty Girls introduces us to Nashville, Tennessee homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson and her team - Pete "Fitz" Fitzgerald, Lincoln Ross, and Marcus Wade - of detectives. When they're called to the scene of a murder, she gets a not entirely welcome surprise in the face of John Baldwin. Welcome, of course, because Baldwin is her lover, unwelcome, though, because he is an FBI profiler and his presence means their murder is more than 'just' a murder.

The first book in this series is a great introduction to the Taylor Jackson series. We meet all of the different characters - from Taylor and Baldwin and the detectives to Sam, Taylor's best friend and the medical examine - and catch glimpses into Taylor's past and how it affects relationships.

This series is a mystery, thriller series and one that does involve a serial killer. While the rest of the series veers more into adult content, save for pretty much one scene, All the Pretty Girls could be read by YA readers or, at least, older YA readers.

Book 2 ~ 14

In 14 Lt. Taylor Jackson is back - and so, maybe is a killer. Or, at Taylor believes, a copycat is. 14 is a fantastic follow-up to All the Pretty Girls, the first in this series. The same great characters are back, their interactions still a joy to read/listen to.

The mystery and suspense - and well as the culmination of both - are each taken up a notch, or five. The way that different characters, unexpectedly, end up playing into different aspects of the story and how it plays out make for a very enjoyable read.

With 14 though, the adult content is stepped up quite a bit from the previous book (with both the sexual wording and imagery, sometimes mixed with violence). 14 is an older YA read if not only an adult read.

Book 3 ~ Judas Kiss

Judas Kiss lets you know right from the beginning that it's not playing around. The type of crime in this third book is a different both from those in the previous two books and from what I expected. It's also a bit hard to read about. The previous books had more sexual content, this one has a bit more squicky violence.

J.T. Ellison shows with this third book that this is really a series. It wasn't a one or two shot deal, a lucky shot. The characters and their relationships are developing. We're seeing more of Taylor's back story, more of who she is when she's not at work.

Knowing that there are books that focus on Sam, Taylor's best friend as well as the medical examiner, I'm also really happy that we're continuing to see so much of their friendship. I would love seeing that relationship even without knowing about - and planning on reading the other series - but I like getting to know her prior to reading her books.

This book starts out quite a bit different from the others, but I really love it for that. Having the same type of crimes, killers or even serial killers would get repetitive - and it all takes things somewhere, too.

** I tried keeping spoilers low, but there will be some below . . .**

Book 4 ~ The Cold Room

After the ending of the Judas Kiss, it's all but impossible not to want to read The Cold Room. As so much has changed from the earlier books in the series (darn you Delores Norris), Taylor now being a detective and not a lieutenant, her squad shuffled off to (almost) parts unknown, The Cold Room proposes to be quite different.

Not only is Taylor answering to someone else this time, she also has a new partner, Renn McKenzie to deal with. And now it looks like a killer has left a body for them. Like in All the Pretty Girls, Taylor has Baldwin around to take a look - and his response is a surprising one . . . One that sets them on an unexpected course and brings yet another new character into their lives, someone who seems to have his sights set on Taylor.

The Cold Room does a fantastic job of not only recapping things from Judas Kiss that change the dynamic of the character's relationships and how they interact, but also things from previous books that come into play in this one. The Cold Room does the best job out of any books in this series of implementing parts of the plot from earlier books. Story from earlier books is pulled in and expanded on in The Cold Room.

All Books

The Taylor Jackson series is not one that you have to read all of the books in order to follow what's going on. Each subsequent book does a great job of recapping the important points, events from the previous book(s) so that you can still follow the book you're reading, even if you're new to the series.

As the series does build great relationships between the different characters, the situations between them do change, there's a lot to gain from reading the books in order. There also seem to be series long - or at least several book long - plot lines presenting themselves that while they won't be baffling if you don't read everything, will be much better if you do.

J.T. Ellison's website's FAQ does suggest that readers read 14 (#2) prior to reading So Close the Hand of Death (#6). I haven't gotten to #6 yet, but I will say that 14 has a lot of plot in it. I'll try to review #5-7 in the series and make a note on this then.


I said in the part for All the Pretty Girls that I felt it was YA friendly - not young YA reader friendly, but I don't think there's anything in it that's more than . . . well, nothing more than I Hunt Killers save for maybe one scene.

Except for 14 the rest of the books are definitely older YA/adult. If you read YA but also read adult novels, are familiar with the genre and read things with some sexual content (and I mean adult books, not YA), then it's probably fine?

14 may be fine but as this is primarily a YA blog, the sex mixed with violence just gives me pause in saying 'okay.' (It may be because I listened to the audio?)



(14 doesn't seem to be available in paperback(?) but they're all pretty cheap for Kindle and Nook - plus I think they're great audiobook listens!)


  1. I don't usually read books like these but they sound good!

    Jesse @ Pretty in Fiction

    1. You may not love them if thriller books aren't your thing (the latter books more so probably as they do get more graphic) but I do think these are a great example of the genre.

      Thanks for the comment.


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