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In the Belly of Jonah

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In the Belly of Jonah is a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book expertly lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Streeter Pierce. Liv becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of Jill Brannigan, a su In the Belly of Jonah is a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book expertly lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Streeter Pierce. Liv becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of Jill Brannigan, a summer intern at the limestone mine Liv manages near Fort Collins, Colorado (a breathtaking setting that unwittingly becomes an accessory to crime). In doing so, she inadvertently puts her friends, her family, and herself at risk of being swallowed in the belly of a madman bloated with perverse appetites for women, surrealistic art, and renown. As the gripping plot of In the Belly of Jonah unfolds, Liv Bergen takes her place alongside the best female crime-solvers as a woman with smarts, self-confidence, and intuitive savvy.


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In the Belly of Jonah is a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book expertly lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Streeter Pierce. Liv becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of Jill Brannigan, a su In the Belly of Jonah is a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book expertly lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Streeter Pierce. Liv becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of Jill Brannigan, a summer intern at the limestone mine Liv manages near Fort Collins, Colorado (a breathtaking setting that unwittingly becomes an accessory to crime). In doing so, she inadvertently puts her friends, her family, and herself at risk of being swallowed in the belly of a madman bloated with perverse appetites for women, surrealistic art, and renown. As the gripping plot of In the Belly of Jonah unfolds, Liv Bergen takes her place alongside the best female crime-solvers as a woman with smarts, self-confidence, and intuitive savvy.

30 review for In the Belly of Jonah

  1. 5 out of 5

    Selene

    Genre: Mystery/ Thriller POV/s: First and third-person, multiple Setting: Colorado Writing style: 3.5/5 Loved the pace of this story and the first chapter blew me away, but the following chapters didn’t hold my interest as strongly and I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. *Complimentary copy kindly provided by NetGalley.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    In the Belly of Jonah is a shockingly gruesome mystery. When a serial killer hits too close to home for our new heroine by brutally murdering one of her employees, Liv Bergen starts investigating. She's smart, tough, and smooth enough to be able to look into the murders in a way that makes her an asset rather than a nuisance to the official FBI investigation. Liv is a manager of a mining company, which means the book contains a pretty decent amount of information on the topic. Mining is something In the Belly of Jonah is a shockingly gruesome mystery. When a serial killer hits too close to home for our new heroine by brutally murdering one of her employees, Liv Bergen starts investigating. She's smart, tough, and smooth enough to be able to look into the murders in a way that makes her an asset rather than a nuisance to the official FBI investigation. Liv is a manager of a mining company, which means the book contains a pretty decent amount of information on the topic. Mining is something I knew absolutely nothing about and I didn't believe it could ever be made interesting. Sandra Brannan did just that, explaining bits and pieces of the industry in relation to the case, without ever venturing into dull, jargon-filled territory. And nonbelievers, don't let the title scare you. In the Belly of Jonah contains some religious references, but there is no actual religious focus in the book. The mystery and resulting investigation were extremely well done. The murders are really bizarre. The descriptions are graphic, with nothing held beck. It may be too much for some, but I loved the horrific realness of it. It's gets under your skin, making you uncomfortable, but puts you right there in the action. A constant back and forth between two suspects made it impossible to tell who the actual killer was until the very end. I changed my mind multiple times, finally giving up so I could enjoy the thrills without second guessing myself. Liv's a young, hard-working, single woman, so I was surprised and pleased to find In the Belly of Jonah didn't rush her into a romance. I have high hopes for a relationship between Liv and FBI agent Streeter Pierce to develop in future books and this book sets that possibility up perfectly. There aren't many authors today that can create tension between characters that haven't even really met yet, but Brannan manages to make you impatiently excited for when they do finally come together. In the Belly of Jonah is the best mystery I've read in quite a while. It has everything I hope to find in new series - a strong female main character, a strange and disturbing serial killer and the promise of exciting investigations in the future. This is definitely a must read for anyone who likes their mysteries with a little edge.

  3. 4 out of 5

    nemo the emo ☠️ (pagesandprozac)

    well this was... disappointing. IN THE BELLY OF JONAH is... well, i expect that on a technical level it would be called a mystery, but it didn't really feel like that to me, more like a thriller (although i could argue it wasn't particularly thrilling either). it began very strongly, from the point of view of one of the murder victims. there are multiple POVs in the book, but the eponymous liv bergen is the only one who is graced with the first person. whereas this format could have worked, bran well this was... disappointing. IN THE BELLY OF JONAH is... well, i expect that on a technical level it would be called a mystery, but it didn't really feel like that to me, more like a thriller (although i could argue it wasn't particularly thrilling either). it began very strongly, from the point of view of one of the murder victims. there are multiple POVs in the book, but the eponymous liv bergen is the only one who is graced with the first person. whereas this format could have worked, brannan really, really shouldn't have added in the murderer as a POV. sure, his name was never actually mentioned; but we found out his motives, his reasons, even his next plans. and then when the murderer's name cropped up in other POVs, to me at least, it was patently obvious who it was. (view spoiler)[we learn that the murderer wants to create art. so when an art prof is introduced.... wow!!! i WONDER WHO THE MURDERER COULD POSSIBLY BE (hide spoiler)] there was also a POV from one of the suspects, making it obvious he was in fact innocent, and it's just - why? WHY?? basically, this would have been a lot better if it wasn't for the nightmare of the POVs. brannan should have stuck with the victim at the beginning, and liv, and maybe some of the inspectors, but not the murderer and the suspects for god's sake! that's why i would say this isn't really a "mystery", because there's nothing damn mysterious about any of it. a lot of potential, but terribly executed, i'm afraid. no pun intended.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tara Chevrestt

    This was a decent thriller/suspense novel. It's the first in a series about Liv Bergen, a miner turned sleuth. The case: A serial killer is attempting to imitate famous but gruesome works of art using real bodies. Liv gets involved when one of the victims turns out to be an employee of hers.. plus an old college friend of hers is an FBI agent on the case. Pretty gruesome and I didn't know whodunit till the last quarter, but there were some things I didn't like. A. The FBI agents were too stupid t This was a decent thriller/suspense novel. It's the first in a series about Liv Bergen, a miner turned sleuth. The case: A serial killer is attempting to imitate famous but gruesome works of art using real bodies. Liv gets involved when one of the victims turns out to be an employee of hers.. plus an old college friend of hers is an FBI agent on the case. Pretty gruesome and I didn't know whodunit till the last quarter, but there were some things I didn't like. A. The FBI agents were too stupid to live. Hello? You are an FBI agent.. the smartest of the smart.. and you can't detect you have tail following you all the way home? AND you leave your blinds and curtains or whatever open so everything going on inside is visible to those outside? AND even worse, you leave the front door unlocked? Word. I'm a civilian and I know better than that.. I expect more from FBI agents! B. I get this novel is "laying the groundwork" for Liv's love interest, but she never even meets him in this book! Hm.. Not bad, but could be better.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marvin

    A very likable murder mystery with a very likable character in Liv Bergen, an owner of a Colorado rock quarry who discovers she has a knack for solving murders when the FBI uses her house as a staging area to catch a seriously deranged serial killer. Once the tale kicks in, there is little doubt who the killer is. But the fun of this thriller is in watching the chase. Sandra Brannan can write well about people you can really like and murderers you can really despise. This is a good and easy summ A very likable murder mystery with a very likable character in Liv Bergen, an owner of a Colorado rock quarry who discovers she has a knack for solving murders when the FBI uses her house as a staging area to catch a seriously deranged serial killer. Once the tale kicks in, there is little doubt who the killer is. But the fun of this thriller is in watching the chase. Sandra Brannan can write well about people you can really like and murderers you can really despise. This is a good and easy summer read that holds the promise of other Liv Bergen novels to follow.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan (aka Just My Op)

    In the Belly of Jonah isn't your cozy, funny mystery in which some clueless amateur stumbles across a bloodless corpse and solves a murder while baking cookies or shopping for stilettos. Well, actually, the protagonist, Liv Bergen, is a modern-day miner, not an investigator, so she is an amateur. And some of the corpses are pretty bloodless, but that doesn't mean they aren't grisly. For those who like hard-core mysteries as I do, this one is very entertaining. Yes, I had a good idea early in the In the Belly of Jonah isn't your cozy, funny mystery in which some clueless amateur stumbles across a bloodless corpse and solves a murder while baking cookies or shopping for stilettos. Well, actually, the protagonist, Liv Bergen, is a modern-day miner, not an investigator, so she is an amateur. And some of the corpses are pretty bloodless, but that doesn't mean they aren't grisly. For those who like hard-core mysteries as I do, this one is very entertaining. Yes, I had a good idea early in the book about who committed the murder, but then my theories developed some leaks and other people became suspect. I liked the Colorado setting, although I did have a problem with the author's character describing a limestone mine area that had been reclaimed 3 years previous, and comparing it to a never-mined area: I couldn't tell the difference between the two landscapes. I can't speak for the mines in the Fort Collins area, but some of those in El Paso County, reclaimed years ago, are still freaking ugly. You can't slice off part of a mountain, throw on a few grass seeds and some tree seedlings that are going to die, and call it reclaimed. But I digress. Some of the professionals investigators in this book did some really stupid things – I would hope that is not realistic, but it did detract a bit. Instead of concentrating on the story, I wondered if they would really do those things, and their actions, or lack of them, seemed just too convenient to the story. I learned about an interesting bit of technology – can't tell you, though, because that would be a spoiler. And I researched (well, Googled) an artist – again not too much detail or I'll spoil the story – and found some of his less popular works to be truly awful. Talented, yes, but horrible. Having this tie to a non-fictional person really added to the book. This book is more mystery than character study, so while the characters do have a reasonable depth, that is not the book's strong point. It is about the mystery. And for this genre, I thought it a good, solid, four-star read. I'm think I'm going to enjoy the second in this series, Lot's Return to Sodom. Thank you to JKS Communications who gave me an e-book copy of this book, and Tara, who sent me her hardcopy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    CoffeeBook Chick

    So I wouldn't disturb my sleeping husband, I crept back out to my living room late last night to finish this book. I also may...have turned on every single light, locked the doors, and begged both my dog and cat to come out with me and sleep on the couch with me while I read. Liv Bergen is a young woman working as a division manager for a successful quarry in Colorado. When one of her employees is discovered murdered, surrounded by bizarre objects and gruesomely mutilated, she becomes involved in So I wouldn't disturb my sleeping husband, I crept back out to my living room late last night to finish this book. I also may...have turned on every single light, locked the doors, and begged both my dog and cat to come out with me and sleep on the couch with me while I read. Liv Bergen is a young woman working as a division manager for a successful quarry in Colorado. When one of her employees is discovered murdered, surrounded by bizarre objects and gruesomely mutilated, she becomes involved in the case, suggesting possible explanations for the FBI's unanswered questions of how and why the killer may have done what he did, all the while wondering if her suggestions are absurd. When an old college friend, now an FBI agent, visits Liv's town to work on the case, she becomes even more involved, presenting plausible answers for the most confusing aspects of the case. While a serial killer is frightening, the manner in which he is killing is even more disturbing. Liv's employee is discovered with a window cut cleanly into her body, a perfect rectangle with everything that would be in that section of her body completely removed. What could cut a body like that, and who would do it? Who could do it? Sandra Brannan's first installment in the Liv Bergen Mystery Series is a serial killer story unlike others. Peppered with wit, self-deprecation, and moments of stunning brutality, In the Belly of Jonah magically captures the intense paths of both the serial killer and the one in which to stop him. This killer is freakish, elusive, but generally "normal," inasmuch as someone who likes to kill, can be. Liv is honest and real, innocently figuring out each step of the puzzle to its frightening conclusion. Liv is a smart chick who can easily hold her own with the best of them - whether they are part of her quarry-mining team or with the FBI, she's not one to back down. And in this story, she can't back down because whether she likes it or not, she has a serial killer to stop. If you like Harlan Coban and Patricia Cornwall, you should probably rush right out to get this one for your bookshelf.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    ~Updated~ Oh. My. Goodness! I finished this late last night and I seriously had nightmares about it!!! It was SOOOOO Good!!! If you like thrillers, murder mysteries and/or books about serial killers this is a MUST READ!!! Full Review Soon!!! ~~oops! I guess I am a little late in adding the full review but here it is! What Did I Think? It has been far too long since I have read a great thriller and this one reminded me that I should never go that long again! This is one of those books that sticks ~Updated~ Oh. My. Goodness! I finished this late last night and I seriously had nightmares about it!!! It was SOOOOO Good!!! If you like thrillers, murder mysteries and/or books about serial killers this is a MUST READ!!! Full Review Soon!!! ~~oops! I guess I am a little late in adding the full review but here it is! What Did I Think? It has been far too long since I have read a great thriller and this one reminded me that I should never go that long again! This is one of those books that sticks with you long after you have read the last page. I literally had nightmares about it! You know what? It was so worth it! The book focuses on Liv Bergen who works in the mining industry. When one of her employees is found murdered she gets involved in the investigation to find the killer. The creepy, crazy, perverse, serial killer. In the first few chapters of the book we are treated to the details of an incredibly disturbing crime scene. It was described well enough that it became clearly vivid in my mind. As a matter of fact, it is still in my mind because it stuck with me. I find this to be deliciously creepy. One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is one that I can't elaborate on in the review because it will spoil your reading experience a bit. I can say that the killer in the book uses the most original and horrifying murder weapon I have ever read about. We do get a few parts of the book from the killers perspective and I loved having that knowledge. We are given at least 2 likely suspects to contemplate throughout the book and just when I thought I had it figured out, she changed it up and made me doubt my suspicions! I loved being in the dark until right at the end. The book effortlessly weaves together a realistic world, intriguing characters and one scary mystery. The fact that this is just the start of a new series really has me excited. I can not wait to see what Liv Bergan and FBI agent Streeter are up against in the subsequent books. BOTTOM LINE: One of my favorite books so far this year!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paige Green

    Rating: 4/5 Genre: Thriller Recommended Age: 18+ (violence, gore, slight sexual content) Pages: 252 Author Website Amazon Link Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free courtesy of the author for my review. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Synopsis: In the Belly of Jonah is a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book expertly lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, a Rating: 4/5 Genre: Thriller Recommended Age: 18+ (violence, gore, slight sexual content) Pages: 252 Author Website Amazon Link Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free courtesy of the author for my review. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Synopsis: In the Belly of Jonah is a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book expertly lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Streeter Pierce. Liv becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of Jill Brannigan, a summer intern at the limestone mine Liv manages near Fort Collins, Colorado (a breathtaking setting that unwittingly becomes an accessory to crime). In doing so, she inadvertently puts her friends, her family, and herself at risk of being swallowed in the belly of a madman bloated with perverse appetites for women, surrealistic art, and renown. As the gripping plot of In the Belly of Jonah unfolds, Liv Bergen takes her place alongside the best female crime-solvers as a woman with smarts, self-confidence, and intuitive savvy. Another relief from the multitude of YA Fantasies and YA Sci-Fi and it was well received. I adored this thriller and it really made me rediscover the love I have for this genre. I thought the characters were well developed and the plot was intriguing. I also thought the pacing was really well done and I thought the evil villain was pretty unique. All in all this was an excellent thriller. However, I did guess the villain within the first few pages of the book and I thought there was some cliché insta-love. Those were my only complaints with this book though! Verdict: If you like mysteries and don’t mind knowing the villain, then this book is for you!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    A young college girl is found mutilated. FBI Agent Streeter Pierce is assigned to the case. He is joined by Liv “Boots” Bergen. She knew the victim. He is also joined by Liv’s former classmate turned FBI profiler, Lisa Henry. As the three of them investigate the murder, they discover that they are dealing with a serial killer known as De Milo. The killer was nicked named this as it would seem that he was basing his murders around the artist artwork. The hunt is on to find the killer before one or A young college girl is found mutilated. FBI Agent Streeter Pierce is assigned to the case. He is joined by Liv “Boots” Bergen. She knew the victim. He is also joined by Liv’s former classmate turned FBI profiler, Lisa Henry. As the three of them investigate the murder, they discover that they are dealing with a serial killer known as De Milo. The killer was nicked named this as it would seem that he was basing his murders around the artist artwork. The hunt is on to find the killer before one or all of them are the next subjects in De Milo’s piece. In the Belly of Jonah is the first book I have read by author, Sandra Brannan. It is also the first Liv Bergen novel. These types of books are my favorite to read. I really was stumped as to who the identity of the serial killer was, until the end. I like FBI Agent Streeter. It is not this stuck up, ego type. He does not have to flaunt that he is FBI. He earns respect over time every where he goes. Liv may not be a FBI agent but she can still hold her own with the big dogs. I most admit that I was intrigued by the killer. He did not just tell for the adrenaline but for art. He was imitating art through his murders. I am not an art major but it was fun trying to figure out what artist the killer was copying. My absolute favorite thing about this book is that it takes place in Colorado. I am a Coloradoan and so are biases but feel that the mountains and Colorado make a good location for a mystery series. In the Belly of Jonah is a book not to be missed by suspense/ thriller fans!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    Liv Bergen is the manager of a quarry outside Ft. Collins, CO. She’s having a normal start to her day when it is interrupted by the arrival of a police detective – one of her employees, a summer intern, is missing. She later learns that the employee – Jill Brannigan – has been murdered. Later that day, she gets a call from an old friend of hers – Lisa Henry – with whom she played basketball at university in Laramie, WY. Lisa is now with the FBI – a behavioral analyst – and she has been called in Liv Bergen is the manager of a quarry outside Ft. Collins, CO. She’s having a normal start to her day when it is interrupted by the arrival of a police detective – one of her employees, a summer intern, is missing. She later learns that the employee – Jill Brannigan – has been murdered. Later that day, she gets a call from an old friend of hers – Lisa Henry – with whom she played basketball at university in Laramie, WY. Lisa is now with the FBI – a behavioral analyst – and she has been called in to profile Brannigan’s murder. The FBI believes Jill is the victim of the Venus di Milo Murderer – a serial killer who poses his victims in bizarre ways, and cuts them in a way that has baffled the FBI, who have been unable to discern what sort of weapon made the cuts. SAC Streeter Pierce joins Lisa Henry in staying at Liv’s house while they pursue the killer. The next victim shocks everyone … Will the FBI be able to track down the killer before yet another victim is taken? This is quite a good debut novel – good character development, carefully layered plot with a good pace. There were a couple minor plot discrepancies that were missed by the content editor, but I’m not sure many people will have noticed them – they didn’t detract from the overall story. I would certainly recommend this initial book in the Liv Bergen Mystery Thriller series to fans of suspense, mysteries and thrillers. Also look for the second book in the series, released earlier this year, “Lot’s Return to Sodom.”

  12. 4 out of 5

    Autumn

    http://fallenoverbookreviews.blogspot... I received this book to give an honest review. I read another book in this series by this author and when I saw them on NetGalley the entire series I knew I had to ask to review them. I was so glad I did now I get to see exactly how Liv Bergen became to be such a good case solver. In this story, Liv gets face to face with a killer who has been able to fool the FBI since they can not figure out how he is able to carve his victims. Somehow Liv is just able to http://fallenoverbookreviews.blogspot... I received this book to give an honest review. I read another book in this series by this author and when I saw them on NetGalley the entire series I knew I had to ask to review them. I was so glad I did now I get to see exactly how Liv Bergen became to be such a good case solver. In this story, Liv gets face to face with a killer who has been able to fool the FBI since they can not figure out how he is able to carve his victims. Somehow Liv is just able to put the pieces together yet it will be too late for someone that she knows. When Liv starts to help solve the case just by being nosey what she uncovers is something more. She will have to fight for her life if she wants to be able to live. Her friend is right by the end of this book Liv should totally become an FBI agent she is quick to think on her feet and will find herself in certain situations. I enjoyed how the author did the murder's they weren't your normal kind of murders they were done with a weird elegance that only the killer could capture. I really like how strong of a character Liv was. She took care of herself and owned her own business and was not afraid to get down and dirty. You don't find many characters like Liv and so for the author to write Liv the way she did was nice. I plan on finishing up this series and get ready for book 7 which comes out in June!!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri

    Review: IN THE BELLY OF JONAH by Sandra Brannan (A Liv Bergen Mystery, #1) An extraordinary commencement to what promises to be an extraordinary series, IN THE BELLY OF JONAH is, without exaggeration, unforgettable. Those opening scenes!... Not just those, the entire novel. The empowered female series protagonist, the FBI Special Agents, the victims, the secondary characters--and the Villain. Oh my. Ted Bundy, step aside. This is a novel in which a number of characters are brilliant intellects: Li Review: IN THE BELLY OF JONAH by Sandra Brannan (A Liv Bergen Mystery, #1) An extraordinary commencement to what promises to be an extraordinary series, IN THE BELLY OF JONAH is, without exaggeration, unforgettable. Those opening scenes!... Not just those, the entire novel. The empowered female series protagonist, the FBI Special Agents, the victims, the secondary characters--and the Villain. Oh my. Ted Bundy, step aside. This is a novel in which a number of characters are brilliant intellects: Liv Bergen, the protagonist; a few of the FBI agents, and the Villain. So, as with the real-life killers Leopold and Loeb of 1920's Chicago, there's a constant "battle of the minds" which raises the story level (and the stakes). Then, too, a strong cultural framework contains the story's tapestry (Art), balanced by the bizarre psychology and methods of the Villain. Thankfully I own the first six books in the series and am making this a marathon read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Liv Bergen gets involved in a serial killer's spree when her employee is found murdered and her friend, FBI agent Lisa, moves in to investigate. I liked some things about this book. It's been a long time since I've read a first-person pov, and I can't remember the last time I read an alternating 1st-3rd-1st pov, and the author generally handled it well. Liv is a likable character, and she's not written as flawless. The killer's MO was uniquely gruesome, which I think is a plus in a book like thi Liv Bergen gets involved in a serial killer's spree when her employee is found murdered and her friend, FBI agent Lisa, moves in to investigate. I liked some things about this book. It's been a long time since I've read a first-person pov, and I can't remember the last time I read an alternating 1st-3rd-1st pov, and the author generally handled it well. Liv is a likable character, and she's not written as flawless. The killer's MO was uniquely gruesome, which I think is a plus in a book like this. I thought the first chapter, with the victim alive, was really well done (and it's echoed in the first chapter of the second book in the series, which I started first, thinking it was the first book in the series). There were a few things I didn't like about this book. There was never much confusion about the who the murderer was. That is to say, as soon as the clues come together at about 60% of the way through, there is only one possibility. I like for my murder mysteries to have a twist or two, a la L&O at the 17 minute mark, when they arrest someone but you know it's not the murderer because it's too early in the episode. The law enforcement agents were written to be kind of bumbling. I think this is so that Liv could vault in and show her worth, which would have been good for one or two revelations, but the FBI just seemed idiotic when a layperson singlehandedly solves 4-5 pivotal parts of the mystery. The FBI were also just like, yeah of course, let's have this layperson in on all this info and stay at her house. Really? If that's the way it has to be, I need a better reason than, "ALL the hotel rooms in Fort Collins are booked." Seriously, FBI? There was one thing I really disliked about this book. I thought all of the characters of color were really overly, floridly described. <"Dr. Yolanda Fischer was oxymoronic: She was large and exotic, approachable and prickly."> That's not actually English, first of all, and then it goes on about each of those characteristics forever. If I had read it, it might not have been so obvious, but my Kindle read it to me while I was stuck on the GWB for three hours, and it was just a discomfiting element of the book. "Exotic" was hella overused as a descriptor of a character of color, and the murderer's ethnicity was harped on to an unreasonable degree. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lels

    I’m an avid reader of the mystery/thriller genre and I just read a fantastic novel by a fresh new author, Sandra Brannan, called “In the Belly of Jonah”. Sandra Brannan was born and raised in the midwest (South Dakota) like I was, so I was intrigued and did a little research after I read her book. This is her first novel in a new series, and it has already grabbed the attention of Independent Booksellers across the US (a pretty good indication of a great book). “In the Belly of Jonah” was recent I’m an avid reader of the mystery/thriller genre and I just read a fantastic novel by a fresh new author, Sandra Brannan, called “In the Belly of Jonah”. Sandra Brannan was born and raised in the midwest (South Dakota) like I was, so I was intrigued and did a little research after I read her book. This is her first novel in a new series, and it has already grabbed the attention of Independent Booksellers across the US (a pretty good indication of a great book). “In the Belly of Jonah” was recently named as a notable in the Mystery/Thriller genre for the Indie Next Pick by the American Booksellers Association. The main character of “In the Belly of Jonah” is a smart, young, independent, irreverent and very spunky woman named Liv Bergen who runs a limestone mine near Fort Collins, Colorado. Liv gets caught up in solving a murder investigation when she discovers the body of a summer intern (who worked for her in the mine) with a "window" cut into her body. The reader discovers who the killer is relatively early in the book and this "inside knowledge" keeps you on the edge of your seat as Liv and the investigative team try to solve the murder. There are also some unexpected twists and turns that added to the excitement. I especially got a kick out of Liv's sense of humor, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Ms. Brannan further develops Liv (her eight siblings call her "Boots") in the 2nd book of the Liv Bergen mystery series. “In the Belly of Jonah” is a fast-paced, real page-turning thriller that was hard for me to put down. I simply loved it and would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a great mystery! Enjoy! LEALS

  16. 5 out of 5

    AmandaSOTP

    I’m not usually much for serial mysteries as I rarely find myself wanting to read about the same character searching out the answers to some murder or other mystery. However, my roommate picked it up before me and suggested I might like it. The story moves along at a good pace and the characters, while not fully developed, are developed enough to keep the story moving along. I didn’t particularly fall in love with the main character, Liv Bergen, who by the title will no doubt make an appearance i I’m not usually much for serial mysteries as I rarely find myself wanting to read about the same character searching out the answers to some murder or other mystery. However, my roommate picked it up before me and suggested I might like it. The story moves along at a good pace and the characters, while not fully developed, are developed enough to keep the story moving along. I didn’t particularly fall in love with the main character, Liv Bergen, who by the title will no doubt make an appearance in a future story to solve another mystery. However, she was at least a decent sleuth in this story. The murders were well thought out and descriptive but not over the top in the gore, especially in the few cases where the murders were particularly gruesome. It felt like Brannan did her research when she was writing the story and while I had the murderer picked out from pretty early on, she did manage to throw some doubt here and there as the story unfolds. I do think that if you like serial mysteries where you will no doubt learn more about the lead as further stories come out you will definitely enjoy this book. And if you’re looking for a quick weekend read with a decent story, you can’t go wrong with this choice.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Supified

    In the Belly of Jonah is a real gem that shines in a crowded field of mystery thrillers. While Sandra Brannan doesn’t do anything to out of left field with this work, she does demonstrate the fantastic result you can obtain by applying a solid story with solid research to a tried and true formula. There is not too much that is surprising about this book, but superior storytelling, compelling characters and excellent explanations of the art world and criminal investigation makes it a must read. Th In the Belly of Jonah is a real gem that shines in a crowded field of mystery thrillers. While Sandra Brannan doesn’t do anything to out of left field with this work, she does demonstrate the fantastic result you can obtain by applying a solid story with solid research to a tried and true formula. There is not too much that is surprising about this book, but superior storytelling, compelling characters and excellent explanations of the art world and criminal investigation makes it a must read. The number of mystery thrillers you can pick from are beyond the pale in terms of competing narrative. You might like the light-hearted Flavia De Luce series, or the more adult, but still comical One for the Money series of books. For the classics you have Holmes or for a modern gritty one you can enjoy the Tess Gerritsen books. The running theme here is all of the above are excellent books and series written by terrific authors and I would content this book absolutely belongs amongst that list. It is hard to find fault with this book as it grabs you with the first horrifying crime and never lets go until the equally thrilling conclusion. If you’re a fan of Brian Mcdonald’s take on story-telling, you would be familiar with concepts like never telling lies, letting your narrative be your master and sticking to the story you are telling. I do not know if Sandra subscribes to this or not, but she does an excellent job of following it. No twist feels out of place, even though some are surprising, everything is appropriately foreshadowed. Though the mystery might not be entirely difficult to solve on your own, there are some things that occur you will probably not have been expecting and who lives and who dies becomes a constant question for the duration of the story. There were only a few small examples of situations where the book seems to drift into questionable territory with character actions, but even then, the foreshadowing had it covered. Without a background in criminal justice, it can be hard to tell if the research done in this aspect is correct, but everything sounds entirely plausible. Gone are the instant DNA results, choices are made by investigators about which tests to run when and what to expect. The amount of detail into the process of solving a crime goes so far that several characters are introduced entirely for the sake of this aspect and if it sounds tedious, it isn’t. Somehow Sandra manages to make realistic CSI work sound thrilling. Of all the books I’ve read, even Tess Gerritsen’s Rozolli and Isles (the books not the show) did not feel like it was diving so deep into this aspect. Another part of this book which was quite impressive was the method in which crimes were solved. No flights of fancy here, no magical realism, good old fashion police work wins the day. Considering that not every character is a police officer or an FBI agent, that the methodology was so precise and yet still tied everyone together managed to still have a satisfying feel. Additionally, there were no subplots that shoved their way into the book, everything that happens is tied to the main plot and every character development ultimately has a purpose. At the point of writing, there may or may not be a sequel in the works. As a stand alone book this one is near perfect for what it sets to accomplish, as a series? It could still be quite something. Whatever Sandra’s plans are, I am very glad I gave this book a go and I wouldn’t hesitate for even a moment picking up more of her work.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nessa

    Ok, so it took me a really long time to get to reading this book. It sounded really, REALLY good but for some reason I had it in my head that if I started reading, I would be disappointed. I just had this little voice telling me that this book would end up being just another corny, predictable mystery that had unrealistic dreams of becoming a thriller when it grew up. This is what my voice was telling me. I’m kicking that voice’s ass. This book is SO good!! The first chapter intrigued me but I wa Ok, so it took me a really long time to get to reading this book. It sounded really, REALLY good but for some reason I had it in my head that if I started reading, I would be disappointed. I just had this little voice telling me that this book would end up being just another corny, predictable mystery that had unrealistic dreams of becoming a thriller when it grew up. This is what my voice was telling me. I’m kicking that voice’s ass. This book is SO good!! The first chapter intrigued me but I wasn’t sucked in until around chapter 2 or 3. I mean, really hooked. There is nothing I love more than a meticulous, twisted psychopath with a God complex and Brannan did not disappoint. Although I do feel like there could have been a little more character development the groundwork is perfectly set for growth in the rest of the series and I am dying to see where it goes from here. Liv has got to be one of my favorite characters in the world. She’s a strong, independent woman working in a predominately male field who finds herself on the side of the FBI hunting down a killer. Does there really need to be any more reason to love her? In the Belly of Jonah is a fast paced, gripping thriller that will have your heart pumping and you holding your breath through to the end. When I finished, I immediately bought the rest of the series. I need more Liv. I need more Streeter and I need more twistiness!!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Madelon

    Starting to read a book, by an author with whom you are unfamiliar, is always an adventure. I started reading IN THE BELLY OF JONAH sometime before midnight, kept on reading till I'm not quite sure when, before I lost the fight to keep my eyes open. I was nearly halfway through the book when my vision blurred beyond another word. Yes, it is that good. Crime scenes don't come with neon signs and arrows pointing the way. More often than not they are quite inscrutable. Clues start out as a meaningle Starting to read a book, by an author with whom you are unfamiliar, is always an adventure. I started reading IN THE BELLY OF JONAH sometime before midnight, kept on reading till I'm not quite sure when, before I lost the fight to keep my eyes open. I was nearly halfway through the book when my vision blurred beyond another word. Yes, it is that good. Crime scenes don't come with neon signs and arrows pointing the way. More often than not they are quite inscrutable. Clues start out as a meaningless jumble of bits and pieces that may or may not belong to the victim, or to the perpetrator. It takes a trained eye, a lot of science, and a well-developed sense of intuition and imagination to put it all together, and find out just whodoneit. It also takes more than one person to put the murder puzzle together. There. I've told you everything you need to know about this book without a single spoiler. Sandra Brannan has crafted this tale of a serial killer in such a way that even when you figure out just who is doing the monstrous deeds, there are still surprises to be found. I wouldn't classify this as a cozy mystery, but it is not the usual hard-boiled crime drama either. It's a book you can share with your mom.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Heath Henwood

    Liv Bergen Mystery Series Book 1 - In the Belly of Jonah Book 2 - Lot's Return to Sodom Book 3 - Widow's Might Book 4 - Noah's Rainy Day Book 5 – Solomon's Whisper Book 6 - Jacob's Descent Book 7 - Jeremiah's Revenge by Sandra Brannan The Liv Bergen Series by Sandra Brannan will split audiences, either loving or extremely disliking the books. On the positive the books are faced paced, with a modern female lead. The gripping story line twists and turns like a snake on a mission. On the negative, after the Liv Bergen Mystery Series Book 1 - In the Belly of Jonah Book 2 - Lot's Return to Sodom Book 3 - Widow's Might Book 4 - Noah's Rainy Day Book 5 – Solomon's Whisper Book 6 - Jacob's Descent Book 7 - Jeremiah's Revenge by Sandra Brannan The Liv Bergen Series by Sandra Brannan will split audiences, either loving or extremely disliking the books. On the positive the books are faced paced, with a modern female lead. The gripping story line twists and turns like a snake on a mission. On the negative, after the first, the books fall into a pattern, with the spice losing its flavour quickly. The second and third books are a much harder read. The first book in the series “In the Belly of Jonah”, introduces the characters Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Streeter Pierce. They investigate the gruesome murder of her summer intern Jill Brannigan. More murders are quick to follow, by a madman with an appetite for human art. #InTheBellyOfJonah #NetGalley www.books-reviewed.weebly.com

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pat Forrer

    Good easy read mystery...I will read more of the Liv Bergen mysteries.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Richelle Heard

    Wonderful Thriller I loved reading this book. The conversational style in which it was written made it very fun to read and hard to put down. I can't wait to continue with the series. Wonderful Thriller I loved reading this book. The conversational style in which it was written made it very fun to read and hard to put down. I can't wait to continue with the series.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jonas Lee

    Mysteries and thrillers are my secondary go to when it comes to reading. I had a wonderful time finally dedicating time to this novel I've had on my shelves for years. It was a delightful and at times creepy venture seeing the sides of both criminal, agent and novice working together. I will look forward to reading more. Mysteries and thrillers are my secondary go to when it comes to reading. I had a wonderful time finally dedicating time to this novel I've had on my shelves for years. It was a delightful and at times creepy venture seeing the sides of both criminal, agent and novice working together. I will look forward to reading more.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    This is the first book I have read by Sandra Brannon. I found it interesting from the first with the victim's point of view. I was there and it was terrifying. Great mystery and character development. Liv, the heroine of the story is smart and organized. Running a mine keeps her busy but not so busy She can't help with locating a young girl who is an employee. I liked this book.The writing s amazing and a story that will haunt you A serial killer with means to hide who they are and how they kill This is the first book I have read by Sandra Brannon. I found it interesting from the first with the victim's point of view. I was there and it was terrifying. Great mystery and character development. Liv, the heroine of the story is smart and organized. Running a mine keeps her busy but not so busy She can't help with locating a young girl who is an employee. I liked this book.The writing s amazing and a story that will haunt you A serial killer with means to hide who they are and how they kill. I received this book from Net Galley for an honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Julie Goetz

    I liked this mystery book. The main character Liv is an unlikely sleuth. Will probably continue the series.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    2.5 Stars! I am notoriously a low-scorer when it comes to book ratings. So 2.5 stars for a first novel, the first in a crime series, is not faint praise. I was pleasantly surprised by author Sandra Brannan’s initial book, “In the Jaws of Jonah”. The plot was very engaging: the manager of a mine becomes part of an FBI investigation into a presumed serial killer who strikes in the Ft. Collins, Colorado area. Characters need to be more fully developed in future efforts, and the suspense aspect need 2.5 Stars! I am notoriously a low-scorer when it comes to book ratings. So 2.5 stars for a first novel, the first in a crime series, is not faint praise. I was pleasantly surprised by author Sandra Brannan’s initial book, “In the Jaws of Jonah”. The plot was very engaging: the manager of a mine becomes part of an FBI investigation into a presumed serial killer who strikes in the Ft. Collins, Colorado area. Characters need to be more fully developed in future efforts, and the suspense aspect needs work, but I found the lead character, mine manager Liv, to be intelligent and engaging. As to specific complaints, her references to t.v. cartoon characters as what - alter egos? imaginary counterpoints? was distracting. Also, repeated references to Liv’s Catholicism was a turn-off. It was just too much of a good thing. I hold writers of crime series to the literary standards of masters Michael Connelly and James Lee Burke. Very few can come even remotely close. With more writing experience and a willingness to experiment with form and tone, though, I’m willing to bet that Sandra Brannan might have a chance at earning 3 stars from me with future endeavors.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Keri Payton

    When one of her workers is found murdered, with a window cut through her middle, Liv Bergen reconnects with her old college friend Lisa Henry, who is the FBI profiler on the case. Offering her hospitality to the FBI, Liv finds herself wrapped up in the killer’s twisted schemes. FBI agent, Streeter Pierce, is hunting the dubbed “Venus de Milo” murderer. Can he find him before he strikes again? This killer is close but clever. Who will stumble into his path next? I read this book in practically one When one of her workers is found murdered, with a window cut through her middle, Liv Bergen reconnects with her old college friend Lisa Henry, who is the FBI profiler on the case. Offering her hospitality to the FBI, Liv finds herself wrapped up in the killer’s twisted schemes. FBI agent, Streeter Pierce, is hunting the dubbed “Venus de Milo” murderer. Can he find him before he strikes again? This killer is close but clever. Who will stumble into his path next? I read this book in practically one sitting. I’ve never been one to read many murder mystery novels because I’ve always been overwhelmed by the number of them my mum has stacked up on her shelves. This book was mine though, sitting on my shelf waiting for me. One I had opened it, I was sucked in. Is it bad of me that I like serial killers with an artistic or literary bent? I was utterly absorbed by ‘Brother Grimm’ by Craig Russell, where the killer positions his victims in the style of the Grimm fairy tales. This was much the same, where “de Milo” is inspired by/obsessed with a particular artist. The artist in question was one that I had heard of and seen the works of but seeing the twisted mind of the killer made me look at the art in a way that transcended more than, “That’s interesting.” Unless you’re very familiar with the artist, you will be as quizzical and enlightened as I was reading the book. ‘In the Belly of Jonah’ is written alternately in Liv’s first person perspective and third person. The close third person P.O.V. allows the reader to not only observe Streeter Pierce and the killer but also see into their thought processes. Liv is a brilliant protagonist. She is intelligent and hardworking, vulnerable without being weak. She had a quirky sense of humour and a quick witted way of thinking and speaking that made me all the more drawn to her. Streeter is a really peculiar first name. I just had to throw that out there. I was fascinated by the way he handles people. He knows how to get people to want to work with him, instead of feeling like they are being pressured by his position to work for him. He is manipulative in the subtlest of ways. I was torn between repulsion and fascination for the killer. Even after his identity was disclosed, I can’t stop thinking about his twisted mind and the insights I had into it. A brilliant accomplishment by the writer. Liv and Streeter’s roles in the novel are quite separate but I never felt as though the narrative was disjointed. It was constantly captivating and I look forward to reading the next Liv Bergen novel, ‘Lot’s Return to Sodom.’ ‘In the Belly of Jonah’ is a book I would recommend to mystery lovers but also those who, like me, are fascinated by the concept of a serial killer with an artistic bent. (From my blog: Quill Café) In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received this book from the author. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Edith English

    Excellent A neat idea for a novel. This book is very interesting and innovative and captured my interest early on. Ms. Brannan is obviously an accomplished author.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Matt Schiariti

    What you get with In The Belly of Jonah is a pretty standard thriller/murder mystery. A serial killer has been on the loose for the last several years and his latest haunt is Colorado. Liv Bergen, manager of a local mining operation gets pulled into the case when the latest victim is one of her summertime interns, a promising college basketball star with a heart of gold...naturally it turns the entire company inside out, Liv included. Liv gets involved with the FBI when she receives a call from a What you get with In The Belly of Jonah is a pretty standard thriller/murder mystery. A serial killer has been on the loose for the last several years and his latest haunt is Colorado. Liv Bergen, manager of a local mining operation gets pulled into the case when the latest victim is one of her summertime interns, a promising college basketball star with a heart of gold...naturally it turns the entire company inside out, Liv included. Liv gets involved with the FBI when she receives a call from an old college teammate who happens to be an FBI agent. Her friend and FBI agent, Lisa Henry and the special agent in charge, Streeter Peirce join forced with Liv since she's on the inside of everything as it were in order to try to find out who the 'Venus De Milo' killer is. The killer gets his name because he sets up tableaus based on famous, yet disturbing works of art. Sounds like a solid core for a thriller right? Well it is. Liv is likable. She's smart and she's the girl next door type that comes from a large family. She's not a super model but she's attractive and she's got a quick mind with a good sense of humor. There were just a few things in this story that really did it in as a whole. First off, there are some BIG hints early on the book as to who the killer is. And I mean big as in OBVIOUS. Obvious to the point where the killer was practically named in the first quarter of the book and being that it's short at 250 pages, that's a little too quick for my liking. If I can figure out whodunnit within 50 pages that's grounds for a lower rating sad to say. That more or less took away any sense of surprise or suspense. Secondly, I found it hard to believe that the FBI would use a civilian's home as their temporary base of operations during a serial murder investigation. Just not buying that. In addition while I liked Lisa Henry and Streeter Peirce, the FBI agents working the case, for the most part, I found them to be a little slow on the uptake. Liv seemed to be doing all the discovery herself. I found it a little hard to believe that she was always one step ahead of the FBI SAC and his near genius (Lisa, as described by Liv) profiler Lisa Henry. There are also hints of some type of romantic twist between Streeter and Liv...Streeter being enchanted by pictures he sees of Liv while setting up shop in her home to work the case. He's never even MET her. That left me wondering as well. So, I think it was ok. While I like the main characters, I'm not sure if I'll visit Liv's neck of the literary woods again. Looking up the description of the second book, Lot's Return to Sodom, it seems interesting but between the price and the brevity (288 pages) I may skip on it for a while.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Johanna Sawyer

    Thanks Netgalley for a copy to read and review. My first by this author and I loved it. Amazing and gruesome story. Liv and let live.....Liv Bergen is a miner, but she loves puzzles and loves to solve them. After an employee of hers is killed by an artistic serial killer she is pulled into a complex case by an old college friend who is now FBI. I was completely engrossed and this mystery just sucks you in. Liv allows the FBI to use her house as headquarters only to have the killer strike again Thanks Netgalley for a copy to read and review. My first by this author and I loved it. Amazing and gruesome story. Liv and let live.....Liv Bergen is a miner, but she loves puzzles and loves to solve them. After an employee of hers is killed by an artistic serial killer she is pulled into a complex case by an old college friend who is now FBI. I was completely engrossed and this mystery just sucks you in. Liv allows the FBI to use her house as headquarters only to have the killer strike again in her own home. As the case grows more and more personal, Liv is more determined that this victim will be the serials last. I absolutely loved this thriller, and I'm all set to start the second in the series. Five stars of entertainment!

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