***** It was amazing by Wesley Britton on July 23, 2021 (see review posted on Mr. Britton’s website here )
For one thing, our main hero, New York police detective Nick Larson is an experienced investigator with a big personal problem. After his ex-wife committed suicide, he’s on restricted duty while he works out his pain. At first glance, he might not have been the best choice to lead an investigation of an apparent suicide by hanging. Naturally, this death is followed by other suspicious hangings that might be related murders. Larson, along with his trusty partner, Detective Vic Sacco, along with other tried and true NYPD associates like Tish Ramos, Steve Pensig, and Josh Carpenter, spend most of the book trying to connect the ever-increasing accumulation of dots that should reveal, sooner or later, the motives for the crime spree.
The second plot is a carry-over from a previous Nick Larson story (“Mirror, Mirror”) in which two twins are locked in a psychopathic sibling rivalry. Creative baker Laura Howard is the good twin trying to protect herself, and ignite a relationship with Larson, while brilliant and manipulative evil twin Sandra Ward does everything she can to destroy her sister, even while incarcerated.
Distinguishing attributes of Alonso-Sierra’s story telling include a very descriptive eye, especially for the ever-widening cast of supporting characters and vivid city settings during a cold and harsh winter. On every page, the reader feels like we’ve been taken into city dwellings, shops, office buildings, everywhere Larson has to go to investigate leads, dead-ends and witnesses from every strata of New York life. The author demonstrates a deep well of research into police procedures and medical analysis, as demonstrated by the list of acronyms at the beginning of the book. Adding to the verisimilitude, a fast, energetic pace keeps the reader engaged from beginning to end.
If you’re like me, you’ll not only get involved with the developing relationships between the leads, you’ll want to continue the ride in the next volume of the Nick Larson saga. Without providing spoilers, not everything is resolved in Hanging Softly. We got more surprises coming and I can’t wait for the next chapters.
**** (7.25) Booklife Review on June 24, 2021
Title: Hanging Softly in the Night: A Detective Nick Larson Novel
Author: Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra
Word Count: 100000
Plot: Alonso-Sierra’s high-speed plot is dramatic and well-balanced. Despite an abrupt ending, the storyline introduces believable complications and plausible intrigue.
Prose/Style: Alonso-Sierra’s prose is both poetic and succinct. The articulate third-person perspective employs genuine criminal lingo without sacrificing its lyrical style.
Originality: Hanging Softly in the Night applies conventional murder mystery themes, but goes above and beyond by adding in psychiatric subplots.
Character Development/Execution: The characters in Hanging Softly in the Night are relatable and intriguing, particularly Nick Larson’s troubled past juxtaposed with his present-day crime-fighting. Readers will be left ruminating on the attention-grabbing dynamics between Laura Howard and her malicious twin sister.
Blurb: A fast-moving murder mystery that will leave readers fixated on the psychiatric undertones driving the main characters.
***** A Great Read by Amazon Customer on April 26, 2021
It is that kind of book you just can’t put down. It leaves you wanting more. Enjoyed it till the end. Will recommended for everyone who wants to be kept in suspense till the very end. Superb!!
**** “A gripping thriller of a detective’s encounter with intriguing murder mysteries while he deals with his traumatic past. Chaotic, captivating and extremely well researched thriller that excites and compels the reader to read it in one sitting.” –Shelley Book Reviews – March 14, 2021
Nick Larson is a detective in NYPD and gets his hand on the most unnerving and intriguing crimes of the city along with his kickass colleague Victor Sacco, while the trauma of his ex-wife’s death still haunts him. The conflict is staged in a suicide case of Isabel Creasy, a young and ambitious woman who was terrified from the name of the death. What appeared as a simple case of suicide, smelled of something hideous to Nick, followed by a series of suspicious deaths which points towards a much complicated case of homicide and a missing link involving drugs, dark web and weird obsessions. If this was not enough, Nick has some unsolved mysteries of his own life as well. Shaken by the past and struggling to live a normal life, ironically Nick finds his job as the only refuge from the misery he suffers.
Structure and Element of the Novel
Hanging Softly in the Night: A Detective Nick Larson Novel is a thriller fiction novel by the Award-Wining Author Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra who has written many books in similar genre. The novel is well researched and well-structured. It begins with an element of suspense when a suicide cum murder mystery case is reported. The cases that followed added to the clock to build up the tension in the plot, increasing the suspense and ending in an unanticipated climax. The minor details of investigation and a precise psycho-analysis of the detectives’ state of mind shows the author’s meticulous and thorough understanding of the subject. The abbreviations in the opening pages reflects the same. I loved the title; one must re-read the title to understand its relevance and the irony behind it.
“Death was a smell he never got used to.”
Story Development and Writing
The story follows a perfect narrative arc. It has a fast pace, new characters come in and carry forward the story in a different direction, but neither the POV nor the central theme changes. From the description of the lives of the detectives, their formal and informal verbal exchanges, deep companionship, complicated relationship, challenges at work, it seems that the author has done a thorough study or have kept a close watch on their lives.
“This moment proved Life was a bitch with an agenda, eager to screw him at every opportunity.”
As the reader begins to see everything from a detective’s perspective, the backstory of the victim’s life and their state of mind unnerves the reader with the hidden vulnerability of innocent people. The author has very well portrayed the dark-side of world, substance abuse, bad parenting, loneliness, perils of social media, weird obsessions and how there is always someone who is ready to prey on your weakness in the narrative.
“She had created her own monster, one that had eventually devoured her.”
It is very thoughtful and conscientious of the author to pen down some contemporary and realistically relevant matters like environment in the novel which will be refreshing for the reader too. Also, the dialogues, particularly the swear words, challenge the stereotypes which may sound a bit unusual but will draw readers’ attention. The occasional episodes of Nick and Laura’s love life add warmth to the story too. The only thing that could have been better was editing. The paragraphs were somewhere unnecessarily detailed and not required, making me skip those. Otherwise, it is a must read thriller novel and I look forward to read more of the author’s work.
“If it bleeds, it leads.”
I find the novel as a compelling train of crime stories where few badass detectives are all blood and sweat over the mystery of suicides happening in the city. It exposes the reader to all the heat the detectives have to go through and the dark, unnerving truth of human vulnerabilities that leads them to take extreme steps while we live our day to day lives. It is a great read for all the thriller-suspense novel lovers and strikes a chord with the reader invoking their sympathy for the deceased. The conscious effort of the author to make the story as real as possible is much appreciated. Brace yourselves for this amazing thriller ride.
Shelley Reviews Rating
Structure & Elements of the Story:4/5
***** High tension police procedural by Sarah E. Bradley for InD’tale Magazine on March 4, 2021 – Winner Crowned Heart!
Detective Nick Larson and his partner Detective Victor Sacco are overworked and overwhelmed by a slew of cases, so it would be easy to write off the latest body hanging from the ceiling as the suicide it appears to be, but Nick’s gut is screaming that he actually has a murder on his hands. To make matters worse, Laura Howard, the woman Nick loves is still having issues with a psychotic twin sister and memories of Nick’s ex are ruffling his personal and professional life. As Nick and Sacco continue to investigate, more suspicious suicides turn up, and whether he’s ready or not, Nick will have to track down clues fast before the murderer-turned-serial- killer targets his next victim.
A high tension, emotion-filled police procedural, “Hanging Softly In the Night” is the written version of CSI:NY with an added dose of crazy. Readers will find themselves fully immersed in Nick’s feelings, fears, and determination to hunt the truth, as well as caught up in the mystery of who is killing all these people and why. The romance between Nick and Laura is equally passionate as they struggle with very real conflicting feelings. The story itself is very well written and engaging and keeps the reader guessing who the villain is until the end when the answer is laid out in a clear step by step manner. As the emotions can be gritty and dark at times, this story is not for everyone, but fans of modern detective shows will find plenty to enjoy in this book and will undoubtedly devour the prequel and be eager for book 2!
***** An absolute thriller by Vigilant Reader Reviews on February 12, 2021
Title – Hanging Softly in the Night
Author – Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra
Genre – Detective/Mystery
Word Count – 108,500
Rating – 5 stars out of 5
No. 07 – 2021
My Impressions: Professional writing, interesting, believable characters who interact well, intricate and complex plot.
Lt. Detective Nick Larson – Struggling with internal demons after ex-wife committed suicide.
Detective Vic Sacco – Nick’s close friend and partner.
Ramos – Member of the investigative team
Laura Howard – Nick’s current girlfriend with her own deadly personal baggage.
Sandra Ward – Laura’s sister who wants to destroy her.
There are three story lines here. Nick is fighting personal demons after his ex-wife committed suicide while on the phone with him begging him to take her back. A second story line is his girlfriend’s psychopath sister who wants to destroy her and is in a psych ward. But even locked up the nutcase manages to corrupt Laura’s life. The main plot is a string of hangings deaths originally judged to be suicides. Nick isn’t buying the suicides; he and his investigative team chase leads to no avail and the deaths keep piling up. The interaction among his team members adds greatly to the story, Many people they interview are nutcases in their own right. Then the case is solved by a witness who just drops in their laps.
Laura’s demented sister is not resolved. Is she left hanging for a sequel? I hope so.
The editing and sentence structure are well done and just short of perfect.
Character Development is good for all important characters.
Research is evident in the story’s complex details.
The plot is complex, intense and fast paced.
I enjoyed Hanging Softly in the Night and highly recommend it.
***** It was amazing. Reviewed by litandcoffee on January 13, 2021
Set in New York City, Alonso-Sierra’s brilliant latest mystery featuring Detective Nick Larson takes readers on an exhilarating journey as Nick finds himself embroiled in a serial killing investigation.
The workload is taking its toll on Detective Nick Larson and his partner, Detective Victor Sacco with Manhattan’s Sixteenth Precinct under siege by the flu, and Nick’s personal life is not in its best shape. When Nick is called to investigate a suicide, his instincts leads him to widen the scope of his investigation. More deaths follow, and the detective pair find themselves entangled in the sinister machinations of a cunning serial killer.
Alonso-Sierra builds plausible plot twists while simultaneously delving into the struggles and anxieties of her protagonist’s lives, and all her characters, including the secondary ones are rendered in striking and precise detail. The intriguing plotline is enhanced by Nick and Laura’s burgeoning relationship. Along the way, Alonso-Sierra delves into issues of personal identity, the intricacies of love and relationship, and how mental illness affects the family and loved ones.
Pacing stays swift, and the shockingly satisfying climax to the gripping, suspenseful plot will leave the readers clamoring for more of Nick’s adventures.
Lovers of intelligently delivered and psychologically sophisticated plots and motivations will find a lot to like in this un-put-down novel.
*****Reviewed byBarbara Bamberger Scott for Feathered Quill on January 13, 2021
Called in to investigate a suicide, Detective Nick Larson and his crew soon discover reasons why it must have been murder. When, where and how are readily established, but who did it and why will be the stuff of mystery for reader and protagonist alike in this eerie tale by award-winning writer Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra.
The scene was set up to look like death by hanging – but the victim, Isabel Creasy, was on the verge of a new and fulfilling change of life. Creasy shows none of the signs of horrific strangulation or psychological collapse that would suggest self-destruction – signs Larson of the NYPD knows all too well. He lives with the haunting image of the death by hanging a few months ago of Angie, the woman he tried to love. That memory will both disturb and compel him as the team will discover another, and another, feigned suicide.
Larson, in tandem with his partner Victor Sacco, are under unusual pressure because there is a flu running rampant in the city that is forcing them to take on extra work. Interviewing and investigating the known friends and colleagues of the bodies piling up in the morgue becomes a constant. And for Larson, there’s more: he’s seeing a shrink to help him process Angie’s suicide, while contemplating, with serious reservations, a romance with Laura Howard, victimized by her psychopathic sister with apparent murderous intent, but more than willing to start a new relationship with the handsome, empathic Detective Larson who handled her case. As more and more clues surface around the first faked hanging, stress is mounting on Larson from all directions. But he’s tough, and that’s how it has to be.
Alonso-Sierra, a world-traveled author, initiated her Detective Nick Larson series with a prequel short story, Mirror Mirror, offering an early portrait of the man and his manner of dealing with crime and criminals. She has fleshed Larson out in this new book: a street-smart yet sensitive guy whose instinct for solving problems enhances his profession, but sometimes causes him to think too much about personal dilemmas. Throughout this offering, the author shows him wavering about a new relationship, while revealing solid reasons for the trauma that prevents him for committing. But his commitment to sniffing out the monster who is perpetrating the faux suicides never flags, as he moves from clue to clue looking for some linkage among the victims.
Quill says: Hanging Softly in the Night is a page-turning read with snappy dialogue and hardcore action that will charm fans of gritty, police-procedure whodunits, with enough latest technologies, cross-cultural characterizations and social savvy to engage a newer generation of fans.
***** Reviewed by BooksCoffee Jan 05, 2021
It was amazing.
This exciting installment in the A Detective Nick Larson Novel series from Alonso-Sierra finds the ingenious Detective on the trail of a psychopathic serial killer.
With the New York Police Department’s Sixteenth Precinct in Manhattan under siege by the flu, Detective Nick Larson and his partner, Detective Victor Sacco, have their hands full. If pressure from the work overload is not enough, Laura Howard, the woman Nick loves, is trying to deal with her dwindling business and a psycho twin sister. When a suicide case lands on Nick’s desk, he knows the things are not as they seem on the surface. More bodies pile up and Nick and his team find themselves on the trail of sinister serial killer.
The meticulous police details add to the story’s authenticity, and the affecting connection between Nick and Laura keeps the pages turning. Nick, troubled but nonetheless intelligent and intuitive, has enough substance to sustain a long series. Laura is an absolute darling. The killer with disturbing past secretes and a series of staged suicides add to the menacing atmosphere.
The pacing stays swift, and Alonso-Sierra keeps the shocking reveals coming until the story build to an explosive finale. She smoothly blends the fine elements of a police procedural with a close look at the psychologies of her characters and delves into the issues of mental illness, childhood trauma, relationships, resilience, and justice. Readers will look forward to Nick’s further adventures.
This expertly crafted tale is a total page-turner.
*****Reviewed by The Prairies Book Review on January 5, 2021
A compulsively readable mystery…
This exciting installment in the A Detective Nick Larson Novel series from Alonso-Sierra finds the ingenious Detective on the trail of a psychopathic serial killer. With the New York Police Department’s Sixteenth Precinct in Manhattan under siege by the flu, Detective Nick Larson and his partner, Detective Victor Sacco, have their hands full. If pressure from the work overload is not enough, Laura Howard, the woman Nick loves, is trying to deal with her dwindling business and a psycho twin sister. When a suicide case lands on Nick’s desk, he knew the things are not as they seem on the surface. More bodies pile up and Nick and his team find themselves on the trail of sinister serial killer. The meticulous police details add to the story’s authenticity, and the affecting connection between Nick and Laura keeps the pages turning. Nick, troubled but nonetheless intelligent and intuitive, has enough substance to sustain a long series. Laura is an absolute darling. The killer with disturbing past secrets and a series of staged suicides adds to the menacing atmosphere. The pacing stays swift, and Alonso-Sierra keeps the shocking reveals coming until the story builds to an explosive finale. She smoothly blends the fine elements of a police procedural with a close look at the psychologies of her characters and delves into the issues of mental illness, childhood trauma, relationships, resilience, and justice. Readers will look forward to Nick’s further adventures. This expertly crafted tale is a total page-turner.
***** Reviewed by USA TODAY Bestselling Author & Retired Homicide Detective, Holly S Roberts on November 22, 2020.
Hanging Softly in the Night by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra takes us on an intriguing investigation with Detective Nick Larson. Unlike most homicide detectives, Nick does not have the stomach for the smell of death and decay and the author gives us an offbeat yet pleasant take in the world of mystery thrillers.
After the murder of a young woman, framed as a suicide, lands on Nick and his partner Vic Socco’s watch, the search to uncover a killer and find justice heats up. Nick, facing his own past and fears, needs to solve the case for the sake of his sanity. Teetering in the shadows, Nick’s love life rests in the hands of Laura, a woman embroiled in her own murderous nightmare.
I loved the step by step investigation and intrigue into the homicide and the real feel of the characters from Detective Larson to each strong supporting cast member described by the author. Hanging Softly in the Night is a great continuation of a thrilling series that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The romantic element weaves its own story and keeps you intrigued. A solid five stars for this engaging thriller.
***** Reviewed By Christopher Anderson for Readers’ Favorite on November 20, 2020
In this extremely well-written book, Hanging Softly in the Night by author Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra, we are introduced to Detective Lieutenant Nick Larson from NYPD homicide. Nick and his partner Victor Sacco arrive at the home of a suicide victim. The sight that greets them brings back to Nick’s mind unwanted memories that trouble him greatly. The overall scene does not seem right and Nick’s well-established gut feelings are churning. The scene of the victim, Isabelle Creasy, seems to be somewhat staged but with no evidence or clues, Nick is struggling. The excessive workload caused by a flu epidemic at the precinct is causing Nick and Vic further problems. When they are called to another suicide victim, the scene looks very similar. Could the cases be connected? Follow Nick and Vic and see if the little evidence they gather and the twists and turns that they have to follow take them to the right conclusion.
Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra writes in a way that makes you want to keep reading this action-packed, fast-moving story. The characters she introduces you to are very believable. The rapport between work colleagues draws you into the workplace as if you are a fly on the wall. The victims’ friends, families, and exes produce evidence to follow but some of these are red herrings which the author deliberately puts into the story to make you, the reader, come up with possible suspects that keep your avid interest in this book. The author paints a word picture of the sights, scenes, and descriptive smells so distinctly that you get a mental experience – even if you have not seen it or smelled it before, you know what the author is depicting. This is an extremely well-written book with good characters, and an excellent storyline and overall themes. The title aptly describes the scenes of the victims as the story unfolds. A very good book and I look forward to another by this author.
***** Reviewed By Sherri Fulmer Moorer for Readers’ Favorite on November 20, 2020
Detective Nick Larson and his partner, Detective Victor Sacco, are overloaded. New York Police Department’s Sixteenth Precinct in Manhattan is at minimal staff with the flu, and the cases keep pouring in. When Nick is called to an apparent suicide, his instincts immediately tell him that all is not as it appears. There are several small indicators that the victim, a recent divorcee, was actually murdered and staged to look like a suicide by hanging. When more cases hit the precinct, it becomes obvious that they have a serial killer on their hands during a flu outbreak. With few leads and common factors amongst the victims, Nick and Victor are in a race against time to keep the killer from striking again. Hanging Softly in the Night by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra is a thrilling mystery that will keep you turning pages long past bedtime.
I loved this novel! It’s the perfect mix of mystery, police procedural, crime drama, and intrigue that will keep any lover of mystery novels engaged and thrilled. The story keeps unfolding in amazing and interesting ways that keep you guessing – and from guessing who the killer is – until the very end. It’s a captivating novel that reflects not only our current times well but is filled with great characters and the complexity you see in everyday life to create the perfect mystery novel. Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra has crafted a masterful story here that was hard to put down. Hanging Softly in the Night is a must-read for any lover of mystery and suspense novels.
***** Reviewed By Susan Sewell for Readers’ Favorite on November 18, 2020.
Following his instincts, a homicide detective investigates a suicide and uncovers a serial killer in the thrilling murder mystery novel, Hanging Softly in the Night (A Detective Nick Larson Novel) by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra. When the body of Isabel Creasy is found hanging in her apartment, Detective Nick Larson has the gut feeling that everything isn’t as it seems. Isabel is in the process of moving to a more agreeable residence, and the cosmetic line she is developing is promising high returns. Her life is beginning to take off, she is happy, and she had no visible reason to kill herself. When another suicide occurs, Nick and his partner Sacco start searching for links between Isabel and the new victim. Strangely, what stands out at each crime scene is the lack of any signs of a struggle common with a hanging. Did these people intend to die? Or is there a new kind of serial killer stalking the citizens of Manhattan?
With a psychopathic killer hiding in the background, Hanging Softly in the Night (A Detective Nick Larson Novel) by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra is a brilliant and breathtaking murder mystery. The elements of mystery, murder, and suspense are expertly woven together, creating a gripping crime story. From the very start, I was captivated by the eloquent and horrifying depiction of the first scene. The twists and turns of the plot were so mesmerizing I couldn’t put the book down until I knew who the murderer was and what drove them. With engaging characters, a transfixing plot, and a suspense-filled storyline, the book promises to entertain everyone who enjoys murder mysteries that are intense and exciting from beginning to end!