The Cipher by Isabella Maldonado
Nina Guerrera is a fighter. Emancipated at age 17 after a difficult childhood, Nina put herself through college, joined the police force, and later the FBI as a Special Agent. She had put her past behind her and moved on, creating a successful life for herself.
That is, until Nina is attacked in a park. Someone records Nina fighting off her would-be rapist and inadvertently awakens a nightmare from her past.
You see, when Nina was 16 yeas old, she was kidnapped, raped, and almost murdered. Upon emancipation, Nina changed her name and did everything in her power to escape her past. But that recording revealed what Nina looks like, where she lives, and her new name. For her kidnapper, Nina was the one who got away… but not much longer.
The Cipher, as he comes to be called, never stopped kidnapping, torturing, or killing young women after Nina escaped. After learning about Nina’s life, the Cipher uses his crimes to to pull Nina into the investigation, and to start hunting her again…
I found The Cipher by Isabella Maldonado through Amazon’s First Reads program, but ended up buying the kindle edition of this book as well as the Audible add on (I wanted more than one book that month!) – and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed! (If you’re unfamiliar with the program, it’s a free program for Amazon Prime (affiliate link) members, where members get early access to a not yet released book – in digital format – once a month. Members usually choose 1 book per month, sometimes 2, from a preset list of a variety of genres.)
Anyway, I really enjoyed The Cipher, what is the first book in the Nina Guerrera series (second, A Different Dawn, due out in August 2021). It was fast-paced and exciting. At one point, I was shocked with the turn the book was taking – I was only at the halfway point but it felt like the story was ending – but then Maldonado twisted the story just a tad and kept going. This was a book that sucked me in and was very difficult for me to put down. I just wanted to keep going!
The characters in The Cipher were all likeable, all very independent and strong people. Sure, several were clearly working through some heavy issues, but that was clear and you empathized with them. You wanted them to win their emotional battles and overcome their struggles. They were brought together as a team, some without knowing each other, others having negative reconceived notations of one another. But they eventually became a sort of family, and stuck together through it all.
While I own both the digital ebook and the Audible copy, I ended up listening to the book on Audible. I tend to be pretty picky about my audio books – usually defaulting to one of the many In Death books by J.D. Robb – but this ended up being a great book to listen to. The narrators were easy to listen to and the story was fast paced enough to stay engaged. Honestly, I couldn’t help but to look for excuses to escape the daily grind to keep listening.
The Cipher is a good quick read (or listen), and would make a great summer beach (or cabin or staycation) read.
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