Sunday, August 19, 2012
The PJ Gray Series by Shirley Kennett
Before I was Dakota Banks, I wrote as Shirley Kennett (my real name). The PJ Gray books are suspense/police procedurals/techno-thrillers. Formerly available in hardback and paperback, they will now be brought into the digital age by Open Road Media. I just signed the contract a little while ago, and I hope to see the e-books released by the end of 2012.
Penelope Jennifer Gray, known as PJ, is a newly divorced psychologist making a fresh start with her twelve-year-old son in St. Louis. A pioneer in the field of computer simulation studies, she has been hired to set up a new division within the St. Louis Police Department. Through cutting-edge techniques of virtual reality, the Computerized Homicide Investigations Project, or CHIP, recreates real-life crimes by placing the user in the mind of the perpetrator. PJ creates life-sized reenactments of homicides, ones in which she and her detective can immerse themselves and try out different scenarios.
PJ is teamed up with Detective Leo Schultz, a veteran cop fast approaching burnout, who isn't comfortable working with women or with computers. Their working (and personal) relationship has a long way to go to resemble a team.
Titles in the series are Gray Matter, Fire Cracker, Chameleon, Act of Betrayal, and Time of Death. Gray Matter was picked up by The Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club, and it was an Alternate Selection of The Mystery Guild. Fire Cracker was also picked up by The Literary Guild, Doubleday, and The Mystery Guild.
"Kennett is a writer of rare skill, and Gray Matter is a deftly plotted novel bristling with suspense. Its characters are real and contemporary, and its premise is gripping and unique. Not since Red Dragon has a more menacing serial killer roamed metropolitan St. Louis. A rip-roaring good read. Let's see more of PJ Gray!" - John Lutz, author of SWF Seeks Same (movie: Single White Female)
"Fans of Patricia Cornwell's work will be hooked on his heart-stopping and harrowing thriller. The finely drawn characters in Gray Matter are both complex and terrifyingly convincing." - Romantic Times
"Columbus Wade [in Chameleon] is something special: a chillingly realistic creation--not a typical psychopath who happens to be a young boy but a precocious, fun-loving, immature young boy who happens to be a psychopath. A very unsettling and very compelling novel." - Booklist
"The hook in Kennett's PJ Gray series, starring a St. Louis psychological profiler, is the use of virtual reality software to recreate crime scenes. The high-tech wizardry is fine, but what really makes this series go is the fiery relationship and strong personalities of the costars, gutsy protagonist PJ (Penelope) and her Andy Sipowicz-like boyfriend, Leo Schultz, a police detective. This pair could be solving cases with legal pads and pencils, and readers would still be drawn to them. This time [in Time of Death] single mom PJ is keeping an eye on the online gaming addiction of her teenage son and trying to decide what kind of commitment to give the lovably exasperating Schultz. Meanwhile, the police are struggling with a series of brutal murders that may be tied to a serial killer. Schultz hits the streets in search of clues, and PJ fires up her virtual reality program to relive the grisly crimes. A top-notch series that satisfies both readers seeking page-turning suspense and those looking for characters so real you almost expect to see them at the local diner." - Booklist
"Kennett's writing is taut and unyielding, and like great baseball pitchers she throws the curves fast and with uncanny accuracy. Reading Time of Death was like watching someone juggle plates while skateboarding down a steep hill. You aren't sure how it will end, just that it will be spectacular. I loved every minute of this book and look forward to her next." - Jon Jordan, Crimespree Magazine
I have a book outside the PJ Gray series to be released as an e-book. Burning Rose is a standalone thriller with high stakes, exotic locations, unforgettable characters, and a generous splash of romance.
“Lots of action keeps the characters on their toes as they travel the world. The exciting conclusion in the South American jungle leaves [freelance journalist] Casey with far more than an exclusive story. Readers who enjoy a good puzzle with pieces that never quite fit will have fun with this suspenseful thriller.” — Booklist
“[Burning Rose is] tightly woven, intricately complex and fascinating to follow the various plots that Kennett has successfully created. The finish of this book is dramatic and wonderfully satisfying. If you enjoy thrillers, Burning Rose, as the back cover says, showcases ‘Shirley Kennett at the top of her game.’ Unforgettable!” — Book Reader’s Heaven
Shirley Kennett on the web: