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The Safecracker's Secret

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A tragic death, an old-time safecracker, and his young protege. By the time Gene Jacks gets called into a murder investigation by the Houston P.D., it's anyone's guess who's conning whom. When police summon Jacks to the scene of a crime one steamy summer night, he knows the drill: he'll be asked to crack a safe left behind by a drug dealer, Mob embezzler, or worse. He doesn' A tragic death, an old-time safecracker, and his young protege. By the time Gene Jacks gets called into a murder investigation by the Houston P.D., it's anyone's guess who's conning whom. When police summon Jacks to the scene of a crime one steamy summer night, he knows the drill: he'll be asked to crack a safe left behind by a drug dealer, Mob embezzler, or worse. He doesn't expect to waltz into a murder investigation. Especially when police target his young protege as one of their chief suspects. Can Gene protect the girl, who’s become like a daughter to him, while there’s still time?


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A tragic death, an old-time safecracker, and his young protege. By the time Gene Jacks gets called into a murder investigation by the Houston P.D., it's anyone's guess who's conning whom. When police summon Jacks to the scene of a crime one steamy summer night, he knows the drill: he'll be asked to crack a safe left behind by a drug dealer, Mob embezzler, or worse. He doesn' A tragic death, an old-time safecracker, and his young protege. By the time Gene Jacks gets called into a murder investigation by the Houston P.D., it's anyone's guess who's conning whom. When police summon Jacks to the scene of a crime one steamy summer night, he knows the drill: he'll be asked to crack a safe left behind by a drug dealer, Mob embezzler, or worse. He doesn't expect to waltz into a murder investigation. Especially when police target his young protege as one of their chief suspects. Can Gene protect the girl, who’s become like a daughter to him, while there’s still time?

58 review for The Safecracker's Secret

  1. 4 out of 5

    James

    Sandra Bretting's series, The Missy DuBois Mysteries, has been one that's held my interest for several years. When the opportunity appeared to read her newest stand-alone book, The Safecracker's Secret, I dove in with great anticipation. Though the natural ease and well-developed characters carried over, a lovely new tone and style also crept inside this time. Bretting balanced her skillful mystery technique with a blend of intriguing young adult / contemporary fiction themes. Gene runs a lock s Sandra Bretting's series, The Missy DuBois Mysteries, has been one that's held my interest for several years. When the opportunity appeared to read her newest stand-alone book, The Safecracker's Secret, I dove in with great anticipation. Though the natural ease and well-developed characters carried over, a lovely new tone and style also crept inside this time. Bretting balanced her skillful mystery technique with a blend of intriguing young adult / contemporary fiction themes. Gene runs a lock store, which doesn't appear to make tons of money, but one of his teenage employees discovers financial paperwork that indicates otherwise. Gene's also working with the police to open several safes they've found, but he doesn't know what was inside. In the most recent one, the body of a teenager is found nearby too. Oddly, he offers a job to a recent high school graduate because she can easily do math and work the register. They become friends, and as she drifts away from her school friends, we learn the dead girl had been part of that crowd. Toss in a discovery of drugs, parents who are peculiar psychiatrists and clinic doctors, and you're offered lots of potential paths this drama could take. Bretting hasn't quite written another mystery as we've come to enjoy in her previous books. As much as readers will care who killed the teenager, that's not the primary storyline in this novel. Mostly, we watch the bond grow between Gene and his new protégé, and we also worry about her attraction to the other teenage worker, Reef, at the store. There's a bit of romance, some parental bonding, acknowledgment of death and loss, and a developing worry about getting ill. As it all comes together, I found myself caring very much for some of the characters, worrying that others were guilty of something awful. In the last few chapters, the twists reveal themselves, and it makes full sense. I wasn't happy about them, of course, but that's what a writer's job is to do - evoke emotions from her readers... and that happened in spades here. I look forward to more books in this genre from Bretting. It's good to step away from a series and accomplish something new and different, and this is a prime example of taking a risk and watching it pay off.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    This was a fun standalone thriller that was engrossing. I liked that it jumps perspectives so you get to understand things on multiple levels. I was glad to see the evolution that Skye took because she was by far my favorite character. Gene is an old school safecracker who on occasion helps the police. This book starts with him helping the police at a drug house where a dead girl is found. It seems prescription drugs have been flooding the nearby college and the police are trying to find the dea This was a fun standalone thriller that was engrossing. I liked that it jumps perspectives so you get to understand things on multiple levels. I was glad to see the evolution that Skye took because she was by far my favorite character. Gene is an old school safecracker who on occasion helps the police. This book starts with him helping the police at a drug house where a dead girl is found. It seems prescription drugs have been flooding the nearby college and the police are trying to find the dealer. Skye, a student at the college, walks into the Locksmith Shoppe looking for a backpack and leaves with a job. As she gets to know Gene and the other young adult working there, Reef, she learns everyone has secrets.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I am so glad I won this book in a giveaway, it was a great read. I loved the different perspectives and how the story kept me engaged the whole time. Had me up past my bedtime, very hard to put down!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ricki

    A great read! The characters are well-established and I love that the story bounces back and forth between perspectives. The descriptions are rich and the who-dun-it took me by surprise! Two thumbs up. 👍👍

  5. 4 out of 5

    Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews

    Such an entertaining story and I will never look at safes quite the same way. Gene Jacks is a safecracker used by the Houston PD when they don't want to blow up the safe. Skye is a college student that wants more than what life has given her so far. While seemingly opposite, these two are more alike than they realize. I'm not sure that I would bill this as a mystery in the sense of what a true mystery is classified. Sure, we don't know how the young woman dies, who the drug dealer is, or what happ Such an entertaining story and I will never look at safes quite the same way. Gene Jacks is a safecracker used by the Houston PD when they don't want to blow up the safe. Skye is a college student that wants more than what life has given her so far. While seemingly opposite, these two are more alike than they realize. I'm not sure that I would bill this as a mystery in the sense of what a true mystery is classified. Sure, we don't know how the young woman dies, who the drug dealer is, or what happened to Skye's mom. But these are all minor in comparison to the relationship between Gene and Skye. I think they both save each other in a way. I like how Gene takes Skey under his wing and teaches her how to crack safes. But in reality, she has something of a natural gift for this skill. There is a reason why he does this but that would spoil part of the story so you will have to read the book to find out. Skye has an odd relationship with her father and I think that is why she and Gene get along so well. He is a father figure to her and seeks to enhance Skye's natural abilities with numbers and safes. As I said before, the mystery portion is small in comparison but I had an inkling who the drug dealer was but there was a little bit of a surprise when it came to another character. I was sad to realize what this character was doing and why because it reflected this character's low self-esteem and the willingness to do nearly anything to be accepted. I still enjoyed this book and while part of the ending is sad, it is to be expected considering the facts laid out in the book. While I don't know if this is a stand-alone or if there will be another book, I can imagine what future books would hold using Skye's skills with safes and the Houston PD.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Maryann

    The characters in this story are unique and compelling, and I liked the inside look at Indian culture through the character of Raynesh who was known by his American name Reef. The inside look at safecracking was also very interesting, and I learned some things that I'll have to remember if I ever put a safecracker in any of my stories. I was getting one thing terribly wrong, as have a lot of fiction writers. Of all the characters I liked Gene, Mr. Jacks, and Skye the best, and enjoyed seeing the The characters in this story are unique and compelling, and I liked the inside look at Indian culture through the character of Raynesh who was known by his American name Reef. The inside look at safecracking was also very interesting, and I learned some things that I'll have to remember if I ever put a safecracker in any of my stories. I was getting one thing terribly wrong, as have a lot of fiction writers. Of all the characters I liked Gene, Mr. Jacks, and Skye the best, and enjoyed seeing their relationship blossom into one of a father/daughter closeness. That made it even more heartbreaking when Gene suspects that Skye is somehow tied to the drug ring operating at her private school and the murder of one of the coeds. The beginning of that relationship when Mr. Jacks, as Skye always refers to him, ask her to work for him is very realistic in her hesitation about this stranger, a reflection of the caution young women everywhere must have. That made everything that followed with the two of them more believable. It was also nice to see the story unfold from the POV of the different characters, told in alternating chapters. Sometimes that can be confusing in a novel, but the changes here were smooth and easy to follow. Each one had its own voice, too, which is always an asset when reading a book structured this way. What kept me from loving the book completely was the ending, which was recapped in a journalistic fashion. Instead of being put in scenes where the reader could experience the drama with the characters, we were told what happened. I wanted to be there when the real bad guy was caught, as well as there with Gene and Skye when he finds out the truth. What great dramatic moments those must have been.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    I won this book in a Good Reads giveaway, Thank you so much for such an awesome book! I enjoyed every minute of it. It kept me guessing what would happen next all the way to the end of the book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ruthie Jones

    “Every win has to start with the decision to try.” Everyone has secrets, even people who appear ordinary, clueless, or maybe even a bit boring. In The Safecracker’s Secret by Sandra Bretting, Gene Jacks owns the Space City Lock Shoppe in Houston, Texas, but he is more than simply a shop owner. His distant past is riddled with safecracking competitions, and he often works with the Houston Police Department by cracking safes the old-fashioned way, but these are not necessarily his only secrets. You “Every win has to start with the decision to try.” Everyone has secrets, even people who appear ordinary, clueless, or maybe even a bit boring. In The Safecracker’s Secret by Sandra Bretting, Gene Jacks owns the Space City Lock Shoppe in Houston, Texas, but he is more than simply a shop owner. His distant past is riddled with safecracking competitions, and he often works with the Houston Police Department by cracking safes the old-fashioned way, but these are not necessarily his only secrets. You will have to read this interestingly complex story to find those out for yourself. Skye, a college student, starts working at the lock shop to earn a bit of cash, but her sudden interest and aptitude in actually cracking safes push both her and her new boss in an unexpected direction that they both never knew they wanted or needed. Drug use and dealing play a dirty yet important role in this story. Who is this person nicknamed Fireplug that is supplying rich kids with prescription drugs? Remember, everyone has secrets, and some secrets take more than a spin of a dial or a twist of a key to crack. Sandra Bretting weaves several serious topics into this seemingly congenial tale about a young girl trying to find her place in the world and an aging safecracker trying to find meaning in his place in the world. The reader will enjoy unraveling all the mysteries, despite the pall of death, drugs, and lies running rampant across the chapters. Bits of hope do rise to the top for both Skye and Gene, which often happens in life if we allow ourselves to embrace that slippery slope of hope. Some characters will fool you, and some will make you laugh and maybe even cry, but all will intrigue you enough to keep reading and unearthing more secrets than you will know what to do with. Sandra Bretting definitely knows how to keep these secrets locked up tight until the right time for their unveiling; however, a few mysteries are left partially in the shadows, perhaps by design to give the reader free rein to untangle the details. This tactic is not necessarily a bad thing in fiction because teasing a reader’s imagination can be a beautiful thing. With that said, all of the characters are flawed, providing that level of plausibility that prompts sympathy, empathy, or disdain, however the case may be. The pacing is easy, with a few twists coming later in the story, pushing the plot toward an epilogue that is somewhat of a melancholy wrap up/follow up of a few events. The Safecracker’s Secret is not as lighthearted as the title implies, but it does have some tenderness mixed in among the darkness. Not all people or all books are what they seem at first glance, and discovering what lies beneath or between the pages just may reveal a treasure that you never knew you wanted or needed.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lorilei Gonzales

    The Safecracker’s Secret by Sandra Bretting grabbed my attention right away because I have always been fascinated by the art of cracking safes. Long before I saw either version of The Italian Job, I was entranced by the visual of someone using a stethoscope over the heart of a safe to hear the notches line up on the interlocking wheels within. It was especially nothing short of thrilling to watch someone crack a safe with just their sense of touch as well. In Bretting’s novel, Gene Jacks is part The Safecracker’s Secret by Sandra Bretting grabbed my attention right away because I have always been fascinated by the art of cracking safes. Long before I saw either version of The Italian Job, I was entranced by the visual of someone using a stethoscope over the heart of a safe to hear the notches line up on the interlocking wheels within. It was especially nothing short of thrilling to watch someone crack a safe with just their sense of touch as well. In Bretting’s novel, Gene Jacks is part of a dying breed of safecrackers who do things the old-school way. In a generation of tech and brute force, Gene relies on his ears and fingers to coax the metal beasts open. I think that it is the obvious respect that he has for the craftsmanship behind creating the safe that makes local law enforcement trust him to help preserve crime scene evidence with the highest integrity. And thus, Gene is privy to some of the most horrific scenes beyond the ominous yellow caution tape. Bretting’s familiarity with the Houston area is evident as she takes us through the seedier parts of town and introduces us to a crime scene that is super plausible: a young, rich girl dead by drug overdose. I know that the mystery of who is dealing drugs to the local college students is the main focus, but I was more interested in the friendship / faux-father-daughter relationship that grows between Gene and Skye. There’s sort of a mini-mystery within the pages of why Gene is drawn to Skye but seems to push her away at the same time. Bretting switches perspectives between Gene, Skye, and Reef (Gene’s neighbor and new employee who studies at the same college as Skye) in a manner that makes sense, and the author does an amazing job of maintaining the correct voice, along with providing some amusing bits of inner dialogue. Initially, I wondered about the choice to do this, but as the story progresses in complexity, it makes complete sense. We wouldn’t have a way to know about certain things that are occurring if not for the various points of view. This book is obviously for anyone that enjoys a good mystery, but I think that anyone who likes heist stuff would enjoy it too. Although unlikely, I hope that Bretting will consider making this into a series. I can’t provide further details without giving away too much of the story, but I feel like there is a good foundation here for future installments. Either way, I look forward to reading more from this author.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I was intrigued by the title of The Safecracker's Secret and wanted to read it before I even knew what it was about. Sandra Bretting does not disappoint. Gene Jacks is getting up in years. He lives with his dog and runs a locksmith shop. In the past, he was known as the best of the best at safecracking. Now, from time to time, he uses his skills to assist the Houston Police Department in opening safes at crime scenes. He's old school - no high-tech gizmos or explosives, just a good ear and a deft I was intrigued by the title of The Safecracker's Secret and wanted to read it before I even knew what it was about. Sandra Bretting does not disappoint. Gene Jacks is getting up in years. He lives with his dog and runs a locksmith shop. In the past, he was known as the best of the best at safecracking. Now, from time to time, he uses his skills to assist the Houston Police Department in opening safes at crime scenes. He's old school - no high-tech gizmos or explosives, just a good ear and a deft touch with the tumblers. He's called upon here to help when the police find a young woman, a student at a local college, dead at a drug house. Skye has a less than stellar relationship with her father. He just doesn't seem to connect with her or really understand her. But Skye stumbles across Gene's shop, and Gene hires her when he realizes that she's a lot better with numbers than Reef, the guy he'd just hired. Skye finds something of a father figure in Gene, and Gene finds a protege in Skye. Turns out she has some raw talent at safecracking, and I'd love to see more of that story unfold in a different book. There are unexpected connections throughout the story, and while the murder of the young woman is a mystery to be solved, to me, the story was more about relationships. Skye and her father, Skye and Gene, Gene and his past and how that both draws him toward and pushes him away from Skye, all of these threads are woven throughout the story. Bretting does a wonderful job at presenting each character's viewpoint clearly, and she weaves them together nicely at the end.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christena

    The Safecracker's Secret is one of those books that I never would have picked up at a bookstore based on its description and book cover. The adage “never judge a book by its cover” is quite true with this book. I’m delighted to report that I’m thankful I asked to review this book. This is a book that caught me in an all-embracing surprise. Thank you, Sandra Bretting for a book that I did not want to put down. Written in a distinctive interweaving style between the main characters the story progr The Safecracker's Secret is one of those books that I never would have picked up at a bookstore based on its description and book cover. The adage “never judge a book by its cover” is quite true with this book. I’m delighted to report that I’m thankful I asked to review this book. This is a book that caught me in an all-embracing surprise. Thank you, Sandra Bretting for a book that I did not want to put down. Written in a distinctive interweaving style between the main characters the story progresses with each character having their own chapters. The overall tone of The Safecracker’s Secret is genuinely wholesome. Between the chapters, a relationship develops between the main characters of Gene and Skye. The former being the shop safe owner and the latter being a college student. Through Gene offering a job to Skye, the story develops around safe cracking, drug dealers, and an all too busy dad to Skye. By the end of the story, I simply did not want it to end. It is a fast-paced story that takes you away from everyday realities. I kept wanting to get back to it come the evening. The Safecracker’s Secret is exceptionally written. When the ending came I was a tad disheartened. Bretting utilized the epilogue quite well in summarizing the progression of events that lead to a satisfying ending. If you love a story that can take you away for a weekend then check out The Safecracker’s Secret.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    The Safecracker’s Secret is a well-written story with a wonderful cross section of characters. It is clear that the author did her research to ensure accuracy and a smooth flow of action. The story centers on an older safecracker - Gene - and his locksmith shop, as well as his employees. In addition to the main storyline, there are some smaller storylines that ultimately converge with the main story at some point. Gene is in a rut with his life when he hires a young college-age girl - Skye - to ru The Safecracker’s Secret is a well-written story with a wonderful cross section of characters. It is clear that the author did her research to ensure accuracy and a smooth flow of action. The story centers on an older safecracker - Gene - and his locksmith shop, as well as his employees. In addition to the main storyline, there are some smaller storylines that ultimately converge with the main story at some point. Gene is in a rut with his life when he hires a young college-age girl - Skye - to run the cash register. When she also takes an interest in safecracking, it gives him a sense of purpose as he teaches her the intricacies of his trade. As her skills improve, Gene convinces Skye to enter an upcoming safecracking contest that is being held right there in Houston. I’ve never read a story about safecracking, but I’ve probably seen the same movies everyone has where someone open a safe. In this story, however, the author gives the reader a real feel for what goes into cracking a safe. Wheels, fences and gates were words of the trade. I do wish the author could have explained a bit more about what they are and they do. The same was true with skateboarding. One of the characters who worked in the lock shop was an avid skateboarder. The author mentioned half-pipes, quarter pipes and snake runs. There was no explanation as to what they were, but the language certainly seemed authentic to skateboarding. I thought the author did a very good job with dialogue and language. The skateboarder and his family came to the U.S. from Delhi, and I think the author nailed their word choices. There are also some things that confused me. For example, a long lost relative of one of the characters shows up out of the blue one day. The relative was in two scenes. However, I do not understand the purpose of the relative’s appearance in relation to the whole story. It didn’t seem to move the story along at all. Another example of something that confused me was the ending. There is some good action leading up to the climax, but right after the big reveals, the author jumps to an Epilogue that takes place about six months later. I was very curious about what happened to several of the characters, but the author just seemed to leave it up to the reader’s imagination. In a way, it seemed like the author was writing the story, and then after the reveals she just wanted to wrap it up quickly. Even taking into account those things that confused me, I still very much enjoyed the story. It’s a pretty quick read, and it takes the reader into an industry that is rarely used in fiction.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Celia

    This is my first Sandra Bretting book, but I definitely do not thinker it will be my last! I was able to easily dive into the story because of the incredible characters that Bretting has created for her readers. There was plenty of mystery and suspense to enjoy and keep the pages turning. What I enjoyed most about Safecracker is this idea of a mentor and protégé of sorts. I love movies that have that as a backdrop (no matter what is being taught). There's a bit of everything in this book (even, d This is my first Sandra Bretting book, but I definitely do not thinker it will be my last! I was able to easily dive into the story because of the incredible characters that Bretting has created for her readers. There was plenty of mystery and suspense to enjoy and keep the pages turning. What I enjoyed most about Safecracker is this idea of a mentor and protégé of sorts. I love movies that have that as a backdrop (no matter what is being taught). There's a bit of everything in this book (even, dare I say, some romance! Not a ton, of course, but I was happy to see some of my tried and true genre show up in this novel), but ultimately it was the characters that really made it for me. Another plus for me (yes, we're still in character territory), is that both Gene and Skye are quite opposites. So having two people that should, by all circumstances, not get along - actually become this team is just great to me. I am a character-driven reader and Bretting's writing gave that to me in multitudes. This is an enjoyable book that I recommend to readers who maybe haven't tried suspenseful/mystery reads yet. Since this book has different elements to it and is a standalone novel, it would be a great introduction to a new genre.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    The Safecracker’s Secret is an engaging book to read that focuses on a particular group of characters. Gene is a senior citizen and an expert at safecracking and works with the Houston, Texas, police department whenever they need his assistance in opening a safe that coincides with an investigation. Boudreaux is the detective in charge of the current case that involves the overdose of a college student. Skye is a sophomore in college who gets hired by Gene to work in his lock shop and becomes in The Safecracker’s Secret is an engaging book to read that focuses on a particular group of characters. Gene is a senior citizen and an expert at safecracking and works with the Houston, Texas, police department whenever they need his assistance in opening a safe that coincides with an investigation. Boudreaux is the detective in charge of the current case that involves the overdose of a college student. Skye is a sophomore in college who gets hired by Gene to work in his lock shop and becomes interested in safecracking. Reef is a college student and skateboarder who works for Gene. A mutual attraction is present between Reef and Skye. Will it build over time? How does each of these characters’ behaviors and motivations influence events and the story’s final outcome? Sandra Bretting has created relatable and believable characters with realistic dialogue to match. Each one of them plays an essential role in the story. The characters are distinctive in their mannerisms, habits, and traits. They face both internal and external challenges. Readers get to know the characters and see how they react to circumstances beyond their control. The story encompasses a number of issues such as illegal undertakings, intimidating and secretive behaviors, relationship rifts, surprising reveals, false impressions, unexpected life-altering situations, family conflicts, difficult decisions, and budding and close-knit friendships. It also includes a safecracking contest with bang-on details about the event. The author has written a book that is well worth taking the time to read. Bretting pulls readers in with an enticing beginning and keeps their attention with the intrigue surrounding the characters and the descriptions that help readers form mental images in their minds and transport them into the scenes. The profanity suits the characters, and there is not an overabundance of it in the story.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julia Walker

    Gene is the fastest safecracker in the world. He has won every contest imaginable but he is a modest man and keeps that to himself. He owns a Locksmith shop and keeps busy between that and working with the police to open safes drug dealers have left behind. As a widower who works all the time he often finds himself lonely. Owning his own business means he works 6 days a week and is constantly looking for good workers. Gene finds himself hiring a college kid named Reef to help with stocking and i Gene is the fastest safecracker in the world. He has won every contest imaginable but he is a modest man and keeps that to himself. He owns a Locksmith shop and keeps busy between that and working with the police to open safes drug dealers have left behind. As a widower who works all the time he often finds himself lonely. Owning his own business means he works 6 days a week and is constantly looking for good workers. Gene finds himself hiring a college kid named Reef to help with stocking and inventory. Reef is a big skateboarder and attends the college in the same neighborhood as the Locksmith store. He is hoping to move to LA and become the next Tony Hawk, so he is not really interested in Gene or the store. Skye is also a student at the college Reef attends. She wanders into the store one day when she sees they are selling backpacks. Skye notices the fairly good-looking guy, Reef, and begins to talk to Gene who ends up offering her a job. The relationship between Gene and Skye grows into one mentor/mentee with Skye learning how to open the safes in the store. Eventually, Gene talks Skye into entering a safe-cracking contest. There are many great aspects to the book. Bretting weaves the characters’ lives together, providing the reader with all the background information so that each of the characters is three-dimensional. The evil in the book comes forth clearly in the underlying deceit and betrayal that is exposed. Several moral issues are dealt with and there are tender moments throughout the story. This is very well written and I think rather surprising in its blend of the themes of crime and family.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    “The Safecracker’s Secret” Earns 5/5 Tumblers…Engaging, Clever With an Edge! Gene Jacks thought the latest safecracking gig for the HPD was a one and done, but he gets a call back from the head detective Rios. Boudreaux, pure Cajun and his only pal on the force, found a hidden door, kicked it in, and discovered a stash of designer bags, a second safe…and a dead body. The body is a student at Immaculate Word, and when Boudreaux peruses the drug dealers real books from the second safe, he sees a na “The Safecracker’s Secret” Earns 5/5 Tumblers…Engaging, Clever With an Edge! Gene Jacks thought the latest safecracking gig for the HPD was a one and done, but he gets a call back from the head detective Rios. Boudreaux, pure Cajun and his only pal on the force, found a hidden door, kicked it in, and discovered a stash of designer bags, a second safe…and a dead body. The body is a student at Immaculate Word, and when Boudreaux peruses the drug dealers real books from the second safe, he sees a name written on the front page...fireplug. Boudreaux asks Jacks if he’d heard the name in passing since his shop is so close to the college, but his place isn’t one of the popular hangouts for college students. The investigation stalls until a second body is later discovered. Eureka! is my reaction to having cracked open Sandra Bretting new book. Clever. Compelling. The investigation into the dead college girl is reasonably determined as an “accidental overdose,” leaving the question: who is providing the drugs? But, this inquiry is not center stage in the drama. The official details are slowly revealed through a third-person narrative surrounding the three main characters. There’s plenty of suspicious behavior to confuse one’s inner police detective from a duffel bag, Jacks’s tax returns, and a change of attitude of Gene’s newest employee’s BFF making the journey of discovery engaging with the “Who” revealed late in an “Oh, my!” moment. Additionally, teenage angst, health issues, budding friendships, dealing with one’s past, and family disfunction serve to provide a deep understanding of the characters. Quite a page-turner. Sandra’s writing style employs various perspectives often of the same incident. Each chapter is titled with the name of a character whose perspective will be prominent. The informative background and technical details about cracking and picking safes and locks adding to the realism. The “Epilogue” nicely wraps up most loose ends, but some issues about Skye’s and Reef’s family along with some closure to the legal consequences are left to the reader. Highly enjoyable, though, big thumbs up! Disclosure: I received an ARC from the author. My review is voluntary with honest insights and comments.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Roberta

    This book is such a refreshing read that I finished it in 24 hours. Only a few characters to keep track of, which the author went in depth on by alternating chapters headed by their individual names. What I gleaned from the story is that one is most successful in a job in which they have a real interest in - not just the paycheck. For every job requiring a college degree, there are probably an equal amount of jobs with a future not requiring one - only an interest in learning, which with diligenc This book is such a refreshing read that I finished it in 24 hours. Only a few characters to keep track of, which the author went in depth on by alternating chapters headed by their individual names. What I gleaned from the story is that one is most successful in a job in which they have a real interest in - not just the paycheck. For every job requiring a college degree, there are probably an equal amount of jobs with a future not requiring one - only an interest in learning, which with diligence opens up opportunities within the company. Gene, a former award-winning safecracker who uses his talents in his senior years to help the police, owns a lock shop. He hires Reef (untrustworthy and lazy) for warehouse work, as a favor he owes to his neighbor. He then hires Skye, as none of his warehouse employees know how to use a cash register and his medical issues are making this task difficult for him. Both Reef and Skye are part-time employees as well as college students, and they begin dating. Skye takes a serious interest in the business and Gene spends many after-work hours teaching her safecracking. The story climaxes at a safecracking contest which Gene has encouraged Skye to enter. Although the story ends pretty much as the reader expects, it's a story worth reading.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Geri

    This story is written from the perspectives of several different people which keeps it interesting throughout. First you meet Gene Jacks, the safecracker and Space City Lock Shoppe owner, as he is asked by the Houston Police to come crack a safe at a drug dealer's house. Then there's Skye, the college student who is friends with Harper. Between the two of them they are constantly fending off the 'mean girls' at school. Skye and Harper drift apart in their friendship as Skye goes to work for Gene This story is written from the perspectives of several different people which keeps it interesting throughout. First you meet Gene Jacks, the safecracker and Space City Lock Shoppe owner, as he is asked by the Houston Police to come crack a safe at a drug dealer's house. Then there's Skye, the college student who is friends with Harper. Between the two of them they are constantly fending off the 'mean girls' at school. Skye and Harper drift apart in their friendship as Skye goes to work for Gene at the lock shop and finds that she is really interested in how locks work. She also finds that she has a natural instinct when it comes to safe cracking. Gene takes her under his wing and encourages her to enter a safecracking competition. While Skye works in the lock shop, Harper finds an uncommon friendship with the 'mean girls'. Throughout the story, the Houston PD asks Gene if he has heard anything about Fireplug, a drug dealer they are on the lookout for. Being that he owns a lock shop, the HPD knows that Gene meets many different characters in a days' work. As Gene grooms Skye for a big safecracking competition the back stories lead you to realize that there are many different options to the identity of the Fireplug. This book keeps you guessing until the very end. It is well written and intriguing.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amber Adams

    This book was a nice read, and I enjoyed the author’s writing style. I read so many cozy mysteries and sometimes I wish for a little bit of grit and some cursing (ha!), and this one supplied both. I enjoyed that the story is told from several character’s perspectives, and the diversity. And Gene. Sweet, Gene. I wanted to leap into the pages and give him a hug, even if he’d hate it. I’d have given this book a higher rating were it not for a couple of things. Firstly, certain plot points didn’t ma This book was a nice read, and I enjoyed the author’s writing style. I read so many cozy mysteries and sometimes I wish for a little bit of grit and some cursing (ha!), and this one supplied both. I enjoyed that the story is told from several character’s perspectives, and the diversity. And Gene. Sweet, Gene. I wanted to leap into the pages and give him a hug, even if he’d hate it. I’d have given this book a higher rating were it not for a couple of things. Firstly, certain plot points didn’t make sense for the story, particularly Skye’s mother. Secondly, the description of the book’s plot is not accurate. I remarked to my husband that I could not fathom how the book would follow the story arc in so few pages. I think what this book needed was more time and space. The elements were great and I enjoyed the story and characters enough that I would recommend it. However, had there been the space to flesh out details and fill plot holes, it would have been a 5 star read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I was quickly drawn into this book and the engaging characters. I like how each chapter is told from a different characters point of view, so that you see a situation from different perspectives. Gene, the owner of Space City Lock Shoppe, is a safe cracker and has won many contests. He also works with the the Houston Police Department when needed, and that is how the story begins. Skye is a college student and has an interesting family dynamic. This added to the story and kept me guessing how it I was quickly drawn into this book and the engaging characters. I like how each chapter is told from a different characters point of view, so that you see a situation from different perspectives. Gene, the owner of Space City Lock Shoppe, is a safe cracker and has won many contests. He also works with the the Houston Police Department when needed, and that is how the story begins. Skye is a college student and has an interesting family dynamic. This added to the story and kept me guessing how it might be involved with the mystery. Skye and Gene develop a friendship when she starts working at the lock shop and she discovers an interest in safes and how they work. This story is well crafted and keeps the reader's interest throughout.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    The Safecracker's Secret is a about an aging safe cracker who has been breaking into safe to help the Houston PD. Every secret is stored in a safe that he has been able to crack. The story is about drugs on the street hurting kids and the flaw characters are trying to prevent anyone else from being killed. The characters are flawed, some looking for redemption, some looking for a new life and other who are scared needing to find a way to live in a world of a safecracker. Thank you to Netgalley The Safecracker's Secret is a about an aging safe cracker who has been breaking into safe to help the Houston PD. Every secret is stored in a safe that he has been able to crack. The story is about drugs on the street hurting kids and the flaw characters are trying to prevent anyone else from being killed. The characters are flawed, some looking for redemption, some looking for a new life and other who are scared needing to find a way to live in a world of a safecracker. Thank you to Netgalley

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ferne

    Each reading experience is a new adventure. I find it adds intrigue to the adventure and an extra spark of joy to either discover an author that I'm not yet familiar and/or on a subject that I have little or no knowledge. This novel stimulated enthusiasm in both ways. I enjoyed the diversity of ages and backgrounds of the characters and their respective characterizations. The relationships of the characters at their homes and at work seemed true-to-life and the dialogue flowed naturally pertinen Each reading experience is a new adventure. I find it adds intrigue to the adventure and an extra spark of joy to either discover an author that I'm not yet familiar and/or on a subject that I have little or no knowledge. This novel stimulated enthusiasm in both ways. I enjoyed the diversity of ages and backgrounds of the characters and their respective characterizations. The relationships of the characters at their homes and at work seemed true-to-life and the dialogue flowed naturally pertinent to the relationship or location. I was engaged learning some terms related to safecracking, skateboards, and the differences in buying locks. I broke one of my own reading rules and read the back cover prior to reading the book. Reading the back cover of a book is now synonymous with watching a movie trailer. Back covers and trailers used to encapsulate the reader and filmgoer but there was a turn in marketing to reveal rather than entice. As marketing turned the corner I stopped reading the back covers of books and stopped watching movie trailers. However, on receipt of the book I read the back cover. So I was waiting and waiting and waiting for the reveal when the police would target Skye, the young protege as a chief suspect in their investigation. I thought I'd reach the end of the book before it occurred. Ignoring the back cover I feel I could have enjoyed the book more thoroughly even with the few loose ends that are never brought to conclusion. Loose ends sometimes begin the opening mystery of a new series but to my knowledge this was planned as a stand-alone. My sincere appreciation to Sandra Bretting, Level Best Books, and The Cozy Mystery Review Crew for the opportunity to read this title. The opinions about the novel within my review are my own.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    The Safecracker's Secret by Sandra Bretting was an absorbing read which managed to get me out of my reading slump for a while. From the first moment this story gripped me and kept me engrossed till the end. I read it in a day. Simply couldn't put it down. To say that Ms, Bretting is a gifted storyteller would be an understatement. There are multiple characters, each with their own POV's, which was really interesting to be able to see same things from different perspectives, to see how they differe The Safecracker's Secret by Sandra Bretting was an absorbing read which managed to get me out of my reading slump for a while. From the first moment this story gripped me and kept me engrossed till the end. I read it in a day. Simply couldn't put it down. To say that Ms, Bretting is a gifted storyteller would be an understatement. There are multiple characters, each with their own POV's, which was really interesting to be able to see same things from different perspectives, to see how they differently perceive same situations and to hear all of them tell their own story. I really liked how the author skillfully brought together completely different protagonists and succeeded to make them work all together. This, I think is part mystery and part fiction book, at least I found it to be really multi layered and complex. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Sandra Bretting's newest novel, The Safecrackers Secret may be billed as a mystery, but it's really a drama about choices and chosen family. Gene Jacks is an aging safecracker and owner of Space City Locke Shop. Skye is a restless college student who has an absent mother, an oddly disconnected relationship with her father, and deep dissatisfaction with her private Jesuit college, and the clique of other young women who have known her – and bullied her – since high school. Together, they fight cr Sandra Bretting's newest novel, The Safecrackers Secret may be billed as a mystery, but it's really a drama about choices and chosen family. Gene Jacks is an aging safecracker and owner of Space City Locke Shop. Skye is a restless college student who has an absent mother, an oddly disconnected relationship with her father, and deep dissatisfaction with her private Jesuit college, and the clique of other young women who have known her – and bullied her – since high school. Together, they fight crime… well, they open safes at crime scenes, the former teaching the latter what he knows. While there are other characters, Rafe the seemingly absent-minded cashier-turned-stock boy, and Harper, Skye's oldest friend, chief among them, it's Gene and Skye who are the heart of this story. Their relationship is never inappropriate, but it gets very deep very quickly, and then threatens to disintegrate when circumstances lead (as they inevitably do in mysteries and thrillers) to misunderstandings. I loved their relationship, because it felt completely organic and plausible. It reminded me a little of my relationship with my grandfather, and also about the old men who were regulars at a café where I worked when I was Skye's age – every one of them became a sort of surrogate grandfather to me – teaching me about jazz and poetry and just letting me absorb their stories. The pace of this novel seemed slow at first, but I realized that it was just my perception. I was assuming it would be a rollicking adventure, when really it's a slow study of people and events in the insular community in and around the college. Bretting's writing is clear, and almost musical. It's not jazz, but an old country waltz, with a bit of discordant twang for punctuation. Her dialogue choices feel appropriate to each character, and the inner monologues of the characters – the novel alternates points of view – are insightful, and give just enough exposition. But while there is a crime – a murder, a drug bust, and even a local cop, Boudreaux, who feels like he stepped out of a gritty television drama – the mystery in this novel is secondary to the relationships. I had no problem with this, and recommend this book highly, but if you're looking to read a pure "whodunnit," you won't find one here. Goes well with: a Whataburger patty melt with and a Dr. Pepper milkshake.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kimmie

    "The Safecracker's Secret" is a wonderful stand-alone book that focuses on the developing relationship between Gene, an elderly safecracker, and his college-aged protege Skye. Each individual is given a detailed personality and back story, and I felt that I grew to know and understand each of them as the story progressed. Watching their relationship grow from their first meeting in Gene's lock shop through the end of the book was truly a pleasure. (Note: This is an age-appropriate mentor/mentee "The Safecracker's Secret" is a wonderful stand-alone book that focuses on the developing relationship between Gene, an elderly safecracker, and his college-aged protege Skye. Each individual is given a detailed personality and back story, and I felt that I grew to know and understand each of them as the story progressed. Watching their relationship grow from their first meeting in Gene's lock shop through the end of the book was truly a pleasure. (Note: This is an age-appropriate mentor/mentee relationship, NOT a May-December romantic one.) Gene's safecracking skills are sometimes utilized by the local (Houston) police, and this time around he's involved in a case involving drugs being sold to students at Skye's college. Part of the story revolves around trying to solve this case, but the main focus of the book is on Skye and Gene. There is a good bit for the reader to think about in terms of family relationships, which could make for interesting book club discussions. Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was that chapters are told from the perspectives of different characters. Gene and Skye (naturally) have the most chapters, but it was nice to hear from Reef (an employee at Gene's shop) and police detective Boudreaux occasionally as well. This provided unique insights into different parts of the story. I loved how everything was woven together in the end. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a quality character/relationship-driven story with a touch of mystery. Five out of five slices of yummy provolone!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Kelley

    I was a little surprised with where this book's story went with the large cast of characters I waited to see how the author weaved their various stories together. There were twist or surprises in this as you go along but it felt to me like they were just tossed in there. While this was a decent read the story line felt like it could have been tighten up alot more. This is a quick read that I would give a 3 1/2 star rating but give it a read and see what you think. Thank you to Netgalley and Leve I was a little surprised with where this book's story went with the large cast of characters I waited to see how the author weaved their various stories together. There were twist or surprises in this as you go along but it felt to me like they were just tossed in there. While this was a decent read the story line felt like it could have been tighten up alot more. This is a quick read that I would give a 3 1/2 star rating but give it a read and see what you think. Thank you to Netgalley and Level Best Books for an ARC for a fair and honest review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Peggy Baldwin

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is the first book I read by Sandra Bretting and I will be reading more of her books. After a murder Gene hires Skye to work in his safe shop and she meets Reef the two of them start dating and then Skye finds out Reef is not what she thought he was. Gene is very I'll but teaches Skye about safecracking. This book is very entertaining. This is the first book I read by Sandra Bretting and I will be reading more of her books. After a murder Gene hires Skye to work in his safe shop and she meets Reef the two of them start dating and then Skye finds out Reef is not what she thought he was. Gene is very I'll but teaches Skye about safecracking. This book is very entertaining.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carla

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bailey S.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Judy

  31. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

  32. 5 out of 5

    Amy Wigand

  33. 5 out of 5

    Kye Cantey

  34. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ahmed

  35. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Maki

  36. 4 out of 5

    Lydia Wallace

  37. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

  38. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Gerhart

  39. 4 out of 5

    Sierra Norris

  40. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine

  41. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

  42. 4 out of 5

    Dayna

  43. 4 out of 5

    Jillian

  44. 4 out of 5

    Apick

  45. 4 out of 5

    Nicollette Garcia

  46. 5 out of 5

    Douglass Abramson

  47. 5 out of 5

    MYMY

  48. 4 out of 5

    natalie

  49. 5 out of 5

    Joan

  50. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

  51. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Hughes

  52. 5 out of 5

    Steph Troyan

  53. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

  54. 5 out of 5

    Jillian

  55. 4 out of 5

    Marcie

  56. 4 out of 5

    Shelby Hosein

  57. 4 out of 5

    Astrid Galactic

  58. 5 out of 5

    Kim Ellis

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