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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Put it down if you can
After a relatively slow start, this story soon begins to rattle along until you reach a point - about halfway through - when it's almost impossible to put down.

This is another serial killer saga but with a difference. Special Agent Bobby Dees, who has taken on the burden of tracking down this hunter of young girls, also has a missing teenage daughter, believed...
Published on 17 Dec 2009 by Michael Watson

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well paced serial killer thriller
This is a quick and easy to read and well paced serial killer thriller with a Miami, Florida setting. The theme is of young teenage girls who seem to have run away from home but as we learn fairly early on they are being kidnapped and killed by an internet predator. The main investigation is led by Special Agent Supervisor Bobby Dees who heads a 'crimes against...
Published on 18 Feb 2010 by dali


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well paced serial killer thriller, 18 Feb 2010
This review is from: Pretty Little Things (Hardcover)
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This is a quick and easy to read and well paced serial killer thriller with a Miami, Florida setting. The theme is of young teenage girls who seem to have run away from home but as we learn fairly early on they are being kidnapped and killed by an internet predator. The main investigation is led by Special Agent Supervisor Bobby Dees who heads a 'crimes against children' police squad whose own teenage daughter has been missing for almost a year.

The narrative features the perspectives of several characters so as a reader you have an overall picture of what is happening and from early on the main suspects start to line up. The plot is suspenseful with graphic descriptions of the murder victims, written in short, succinct sentences using everyday language and equally short chapters which help keep up the fast moving pace.

I found the novel easy to read, liked the fast pace but felt let down when the perpetrator was finally revealed as I found it slightly not credible and didn't feel that we learned about the killer's motivation. However, overall I thought it was a good read and the character of Bobby Dees was interesting along with how the special police squad operated.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Put it down if you can, 17 Dec 2009
By 
Michael Watson "skirrow22" (Halifax, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pretty Little Things (Hardcover)
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After a relatively slow start, this story soon begins to rattle along until you reach a point - about halfway through - when it's almost impossible to put down.

This is another serial killer saga but with a difference. Special Agent Bobby Dees, who has taken on the burden of tracking down this hunter of young girls, also has a missing teenage daughter, believed to be a runaway but, in reality, probably one of the killer's victims.

Jilliane Hoffman, once in her stride, never lets up on the tension front. Dees's marriage is falling apart because there is no closure in his daughter's case and his career is under scrutiny for pretty much the same reason. As more bodies are found, discovered with the help of some weird paintings in which the killer, now nick-named Picasso, has included some clues as to their whereabouts and sent to Dees via a small-time news reporter covering the case, Dees finally has to admit that his daughter is likely to feature sooner or later in one of the paintings.

The author gives us the story from both the perspective of the unknown killer and, obviously, from the pursuer's investigative standpoint, enabling her to build on the tension within the Police Department as their efforts seem to be in vain.

It is not until the last few chapters, when everything seems to be finally resolved that we learn who the killer is and where other victims can be found. That Dees is placed in a terrible predicament, since he's been removed from the case and yet believes it's not really over, enables the author to keep us guessing until the end as to what did happen to his daughter.

If one takes out of the equation one, to my mind, serious flaw in just who's who in the criminal part of the story, this is a great read. However, this flaw is significant but to suggest why would act as a huge spoiler which would be unfair on an otherwise excellent, nail-biting story.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!!!, 16 Mar 2010
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Andy O'Boogie (Widnes, Cheshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pretty Little Things (Hardcover)
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I have to admit I have never heard of Jilliane Hoffman. I chose this book because it comes under my favourite genre ie 'crime'. At first this seemed a well written run of the mill crime thriller. Similar to early Patterson (in the days when he was good). And then POW. Once you have been POWED you are hooked and won't put it down. I don't often get emotionally involved in a book, but I did this one. This is a very well written book. It takes a little while to take hold because it just seems like yet another book about teenage abductions...and it probably is, but it is so powerfully written that it takes hold of you (eventually) and you cannot put it down. Absolutely loved it and I have already ordered another of Jilliane's other books.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read!, 3 Jan 2010
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Gemma "Chocolatebox" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pretty Little Things (Hardcover)
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I read Jilliane Hoffman's bestselling Retribution which was a brilliant book, and though Pretty Little Things doesn't quite beat Retribution, it comes very close.

The book starts off with Lainey, chatting away innocently to a boy on the Internet, he's 17, blonde, athletic and goes by the nickname ElCapitan. She decides to meet this new boy... but of course it's not what she expects.

We meet Special Agent Bobby Dees who specifically works looking for missing children, and he knows exactly what its like to lose a child. It's soon apparent there's a serial killer operating who loves to paint pictures of his young victims, and thus gains the nickname Picasso. Bobby must find out who's behind these killings before the number of dead young girls increases, whilst also fighting his own personal ghosts, and gaining false hope...

This was one book I couldn't put down. I wanted to know what was going to happen next and it made for a great page turning read. It did come full of twists and thankfully the killer wasn't too obvious... however any average read of a good crime thriller might just guess who is behind it all just like I did. Despite this it was an excellent read and there was plenty of other twists to keep me reading.
The short chapters in this book switch from character to character, one moment we're reading from Bobby's point of view, next you're in the mind of the serial killer, or we're back to Lainey and the terror she is going through. This only helped in making this a book you just can not put down and it worked very well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Topical thriller, 20 July 2011
By 
L. H. Healy "Books are life, beauty and truth." (Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pretty Little Things (Hardcover)
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This crime thriller and involves a teenage girl, Lainey Emerson, who goes missing after arranging a date over the internet and meeting someone without telling her family where she is going. It is very topical in terms of dealing with the issues and dangers around chatting on the internet and not really knowing who anyone is. In this case, Lainey comes to realise that the creepy man she has met is not the boy she thought she was meeting. Her case is taken up by Special Agent Bobby Dees, who we learn also has a missing daughter. Admitedly I don't read crime novels as much as I read general fiction, but although this was an exciting idea and not difficult to read, and am sure it will be very popular with many readers, it wasn't really for me, and isn't my favourite amongst the crime novels I have read, and I prefer Linwood Barclay, Stieg Larsson, Nicci French, Sophie Hannah type stories.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars couldn't put it down, 15 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Pretty Little Things (Hardcover)
This books rattles along at such a pace I was glad that the weekend was nothing special weatherwise cause I simply couldn't put it down. The style of writing is fast and to the point and I loved the characters - in particular the kids.

Great stuff :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking tale from Hoffman, 8 Mar 2010
By 
Aja "drumbo41" (Newbridge, Midlothian) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pretty Little Things (Hardcover)
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Jillianne Hoffman's new thriller grabs you by the scruff of the neck right from the word go, and doesn't let up until practically the last page. A blockbuster of a holiday read, it starts with every parent's worst nightmare - innocent kids ensnared by internet monster - and moves the action along at a cracking pace. The book's breathless rush is mirrored by the clever use of small chapters, while Hoffman's tough, muscular American prose falls short of hardboiled cliche. It's an old plot - troubled good guy cop in race against time to track down maniac and save missing kid - which Hoffman manages to breath fresh life into, and to my mind it's better than her justly-praised "Retribution". It may not win any literary prizes, but "Pretty Little Things" is nonetheless that rarest of beasts: a thriller that actually thrills.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The internet's a dangerous place kids..., 23 Dec 2009
By 
AR (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pretty Little Things (Hardcover)
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When thirteen-year-old Lainey Emerson meets a handsome seventeen-year-old athlete nicknamed El Capitan online, he is exactly what she needs to escape from her new school, bratty younger brother, horrible stepdad and stressed out, strict mother. But when Lainey goes to meet her new boyfriend she gets a lot more than she bargained for... After her disappearance, Special Agent Bobby Dees, an expert on missing children, is called in to investigate. He is soon drawn into a nightmare as a series of missing teenage girls begin showing up dead, each crime scene more gruesome than the last. For Dees the case brings up uncomfortable memories of his own teenage daughter who has been missing for a year. Could she be another victim of the serial killer nicknamed Picasso?

I expected this to be a trashy airport-style crime novel, because of the cover art and the prominent strapline 'tempted, trapped, tortured', which promises a dark and sordid story, but I actually really enjoyed it and read it in one day. The very short chapters drive the fast-paced story forward, and keep the reader hooked. There are plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing, and some suitably grisly crimes, plus a serial killer who likes to send Munch-esque portraits of his victims to the media and law enforcement, challenging them to solve the clues hidden in the pictures and catch him. An exciting and dark crime thriller.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent read but not as good as Hoffman can do, 5 May 2010
By 
OEJ - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pretty Little Things (Hardcover)
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Jilliane Hoffman burst onto the scene a few years back with her debut novel Retribution, which was excellent and is currently being converted into a film by Warner Brothers. That was followed up by a rather feeble sequel, Last Witness, and after reading that I must admit I lost interest in the writer, thinking she must be a one-trick-wonder. I gave the third novel Plea of Insanity a complete miss, and by most accounts it was nothing special.

Her fourth novel Pretty Little Things is a standalone and a lot better than the previous two novels. There's a better story, the characters are fresh and new, and overall it's a good read. The main weakness is that those characters are rather forgettable, in particular front-man Bobby Dees, a specialist in solving crimes against children. He's just OK, but nothing great. And that's what this novel needed to make it special; the story itself is interesting, that being internet grooming and eventual abduction of teenage girls by a well-drawn psychopath, but while there were elements that reminded me of Silence of the Lambs, crucially there was no Hannibal Lecter to add that real edge and spice. Having read countless crime fiction novels, many involving serial murder and sexual assault, the one thing that makes the great stand out from the merely good is a strong central character. This book by Jilliane Hoffman does not have one.

Special Agent Bobby Dees, whose own daughter disappeared without trace a year earlier, gets involved in a new case surrounding the disappearance of teenager and pretty little thing Lainey Emerson. His investigation soon unearths some links to other similar disappearances, so the hunt is on for a serial kidnapper and killer. Lainey's on-line grooming is described and portrayed in some detail using a lot of 'internet language' of the kind that you can and do find on such social networking sites as MySpace, which does indeed feature in the tale. Facebook is mentioned briefly too. One of the better aspects of the story is an anonymous look into the mindset of the psychopath who abducts Lainey, although his core motives are never really examined - and that's the kind of thing I like to see but rarely find in novels like this. Why do these kind of weirdos do what they do? Without that information, the person responsible for all the sick goings-on becomes something of a template that could be transferred to another novel by a different author; there is a touch of same-ness about them. This one has a slight obsession with the cop chasing him - Bobby Dees - but that's nothing new, is it.

The writing style and general quality of prose is just average, there's almost no sentence or paragraph that stands out as a classy extract worth quoting. One slightly irritating habit the author has in this particular book is the use of the word 'gonna' in the narrative. Quite why that was done is unclear as this is a story told in the third-person so such language style seems slightly out of sorts to me. Not a big deal, but if anything it betrays the author's deliberate attempts, along with all the internet-lingo, to appeal to a younger audience as buyers of her book.

Bobby Dees isn't quite the stereotyped burnt-out divorcee that many cops are (in American crime fiction). He's married, but that marriage is under tremendous strain due to the disappearance of their daughter. This is the personal side to the story and one that rather inevitably becomes linked to the case Dees is embroiled in, it's quite well drawn as a sub-plot but oddly enough it never pulls at the heart-strings as strongly as I felt it could or should. Maybe Hoffman should write a story closer to her professional heart, she being a lawyer and Assistant State Attorney for the same body that fictional Bobby Dees works for - the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. That's why Retribution was better, because she was on very familiar turf and well qualified to write about the prosecution of offenders and the resulting courtroom dramas.

In the end, Pretty Little Things is an above-average mystery thriller with some good story-writing skills on display but not much else to remember it for. Throwaway characters and vanilla prose let it down, but it's still worthy of a polite recommendation even if there are better books of a similar kind out there right now. I read this immediately after The Snowman by Jo Nesbo, which was much, much better.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A bit gruesome at times, but the tension draws you into the story, 21 April 2014
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Pretty Little Things is pretty grim reading at times and I doubt I would have read it if I'd realised just how grisly certain scenes from the book were going to be. It took me a few chapters to get totally drawn into the story but in the closing stages the author really cranks up the tension as the events spiral towards the dramatic conclusion. And despite the unsettling subject matter, this is a well written novel with a cleverly constructed plot.
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Pretty Little Things
Pretty Little Things by Jilliane Hoffman (Hardcover - 4 Feb 2010)
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