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Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
In Caffeine & Nicotine by Eric Weule, twenty-five-year-old Jackie Carmichael is still coming to terms with losing her father suddenly as a child. Little does she know that the man she will accidentally meet would become a significant part of her healing. That man was private investigator Kelly Jenks, who has his own demons to battle. Kelly knows when the young African American boy appears, there will be more visions of torture and death to experience. The boy warns him that a man who lurks in the shadows of Orange County is responsible for the recent attacks on the city's homeless. As he tries to hunt down the attacker, Jackie enters his life once again and hires him to track down a missing employee who was last seen arranging to run an errand for a mysterious contact. Kelly discovers that his ability to travel from this life to the next can help Jackie with her grief. But little does he know that Jackie is conducting her own investigations to find a missing girl, uncovering a dark, dangerous world.
The dark and intriguing backdrop of Caffeine & Nicotine by Eric Weule captivated my interest immediately. Kelly was a complicated character, filled with flaws that made him even more believable and likable. The scene where he served the restraining order relayed so much about his character and view of the world. The chemistry between Jackie and Kelly was evident, two tortured souls who recognize something special in each other. Their relationship developed perfectly as the story progressed. I absolutely loved how information about the characters and the story was revealed gradually. This layered plot was extremely clever. The dialogue flowed so naturally and completely suited the personalities of the characters. There were some clever and humorous comebacks at times, which gave me a break from the suspense. The twists and turns were fantastic; one, in particular, changed the entire direction of the investigation. This is a brilliant tale of suspense, human relationships, and the mysteries of the afterlife.