The Dead Key
by D. M. Pulley
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Published: Mar. 1, 2015
2014 Winner — Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award — Grand Prize and Mystery & Thriller Fiction Winner
It’s 1998, and for years the old First Bank of Cleveland has sat abandoned, perfectly preserved, its secrets only speculated on by the outside world.
Twenty years before, amid strange staff disappearances and allegations of fraud, panicked investors sold Cleveland’s largest bank in the middle of the night, locking out customers and employees, and thwarting a looming federal investigation. In the confusion that followed, the keys to the vault’s safe-deposit boxes were lost.
In the years since, Cleveland’s wealthy businessmen kept the truth buried in the abandoned high-rise. The ransacked offices and forgotten safe-deposit boxes remain locked in time, until young engineer Iris Latch stumbles upon them during a renovation survey. What begins as a welcome break from her cubicle becomes an obsession as Iris unravels the bank’s sordid past. With each haunting revelation, Iris follows the looming shadow of the past deeper into the vault—and soon realizes that the key to the mystery comes at an astonishing price.
The Dead Key was a riveting tale about a bank gone bankrupt 20 years past and the mystery surrounding it which unfolds when a junior engineer surveys the building to draw up new architectural plans for it so the owners can decide what to do with the building.
The storyline moves back and forth between the late 1970's when the bank closed down, and the late 1990''s, the present day. The main character in the 1970's is Beatrice and Maxine, who work as secretaries at the bank and end up involved in trying to solve a deadly conspiracy related to the safe deposit boxes.
In the 1990's the main character is Iris, who works as the engineer doing the survey of the building. I really liked how the author brought cohesiveness across the two time periods by having a couple of characters appear in both time periods, obviously aging appropriately. It lent an air of authenticity to the story and helped to blend everything together seamlessly.
I thought that Beatrice’s and Iris’ characters were developed well as we got to know them not only in relation to the mysteries they were trying to solve, but in their personal lives as well. It was easy to connect emotionally with some of the characters in the situations that they were in.
My only con about the book was that I didn't care for the profanity or the promiscuity of some of the characters.
The pace starts out sedately as the story is built up and then builds in both tension and speed until the climax. The Dead Key was an outstanding book and a most satisfying read.
I gave the Dead Key 5 stars out of 5. It is well worth taking the time to read. I highly recommend it.
Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.
About the Author:
D. M. Pulley's first novel, The Dead Key, was inspired by her work as a structural engineer inCleveland, Ohio. During a survey of an abandoned building, she discovered a basement vaultfull of unclaimed safe deposit boxes. The mystery behind the vault haunted her for years, until she put down her calculator and started writing. The Dead Key was the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award grand prize winner. Pulley continues to work as a private consultant and forensic engineer, investigating building failures and designing renovations. She lives in northeast Ohio with her husband and two children, and she is currently at work on her second novel.