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Say No More (Jane Ryland) by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Cover Artist: Culture Creative / Almy Stock Photo
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Forge Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765385352
Date: 01 November 2016 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

While traveling on Boston's O'Brien Highway, investigative reporter Jane Ryland witnesses a hit-and-run accident. Even though she clearly saw the face of the man driving the Cadillac that hit a delivery van, she feels uneasy about testifying in court. Soon, she becomes terrified when she receives threatening notes containing three simple words: Say No More.

Jane is also preparing a documentary about student rape on college campuses, focusing on Adams Bay College. Meanwhile, her boyfriend, Detective Jake Brogan, is investigating the suspicious drowning death of Avery Morgan, an adjunct opera professor at the same college. Eventually, Jane and Jake's worlds collide. Death and mayhem ensue. Reporters, detectives, college faculty, students, and innocent bystanders all learn that sometimes it is best to keep one's mouth shut and say no more.

Hank Phillippi Ryan explores another controversial, newspaper headline subject in her latest installment, Say No More, of the Jane Ryland series. This time, the subject is rape on college campuses, specifically, the emotional pain and trauma inflicted on the victims and the cover up that is done by the faculty in order to protect the school's reputation.

One victim, Isabel Russo, develops agoraphobia. Afraid to leave her apartment, she becomes a virtual prisoner. With her binoculars, she stares out of her window, looking for the guy who raped her. Her only companion is a goldfish named Fish. Isabel seethes with anger whenever she thinks about the dean of students, Edward Tarrant. She reported the rape to him; he told her to keep her mouth shut and say no more.

Our favorite drama queen, Jane Ryland is always on the prowl for an exclusive story. This time she becomes the integral part of a story when she witnesses a hit-and-run accident and the assistant district attorney, Frank McCuster, pressures her to testify. Once again, she battles with her journalistic ethics that tell her not to testify. However, she has finally moved in with her detective boyfriend, Jake Brogan. They agree not to question each other about their careers but, however, they are soon crossing boundaries. Both of them are involved with investigations that are leading them to Adams Bay College. Both of them collect information that could aid their loved one in their investigation, perhaps even keep them from danger. However, they keep entreating each other to keep their mouths shut and say no more.

Other characters who are encouraged to keep their mouths shut and say no more are an informant, Grady Houlihan, and a woman who is in the witness protection program, Willow Galt. Grady is a young man who has a habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He knows all the victims; therefore, he becomes a prime suspect. Jake does all he can to keep him out of danger. Willow has witnessed a crime and is experiencing a great dilemma. She risks jeopardizing the lives of her and her husband, Tom, if she contacts the police. Willow, much like Isabel Russo, feels like a prisoner who is wrongfully trapped inside a world that she did not create. Concerning her previous world, she has been ordered to say no more about it.

My favorite scenes are the ones involving the female students of SAFE, most of who were raped at Adams Bay College. They were deceived and threatened, told to shut up and say no more. Now this angry group of women wants revenge against the faculty at Adams Bay College and the men who raped them. They created a Creep List.

Say No More is rife with drama. It has an intricate plot with a multitude of diverse characters. However, Ryan's writing style is rather verbose. She could have condensed this novel into a much leaner, faster paced three-hundred pages.

Say No More has a low body count. Murders are committed off screen. This novel reminds me of your typical cozy, though it is twice the size of one. Jane and Jake are still having a sappy, saccharine-sweet romance that involves quiet meals at home with wine and gourmet meals delivered by Gormay on the Way, the same company of vans for which Grady drives. This novel, readers will soon learn, relies too heavily on improbable chance encounters. For example, what are the odds of someone entering the witness protection program, moving across the country, resettling in a large city and discovering that the neighbor behind you once worked for the same company you did prior to your relocation? Astronomical.

Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Say No More is recommended for fans of romantic suspense. Its core mystery is a satisfying one. Not wishing to ruin the ending, I will say no more.

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