In her debut novel Don’t Speak, J.L. Brown’s characters are left holding their tongues, literally. In a gruesome political murder mystery, Brown’s central character, Jade Harrington, puts together the pieces of a mystery that involve a serial killer’s attempt to silence conservative radio personalities. Jade isn’t your average twenty-something. She holds a black belt in Taekwondo, she coaches a middle school basketball team, and she has only one friend whom she can trust. She has been tasked with tracking down the criminal genius before there is another murder. The killer is able to evade the police in broad daylight, and leave behind a grisly crime scene that connects multiple victims to one vengeful murderer. The victims are found fatally wounded, with a signature that detectives can’t miss. Brown expertly weaves in political facts with heart stopping action, as the country attempts to elect the first woman president, and oust the current republican president.
The novel intertwines political issues on both sides of the ticket, with a peek into the inner workings of a presidential hopeful’s action team during an election year. The issues discussed in this novel align with the current political climate, and Brown does a nice job of humanizing those behind the microphones. The killer’s victims are all conservative talk show hosts, and some liken political figureheads such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. Readers will enjoy the investigative roller coaster as the characters lose more than they bargain for in this manhunt. Throughout the novel, the suspense is electric, and Brown never stops revealing secrets. Although there will be a second novel, Brown ties up loose ends nicely and leaves readers satisfied with this book’s ending. Read Don’t Speak if you are up for a good mystery, descriptive murder scenes, and a bad ass main character.