Thursday, June 13, 2019

Sophia Rose reviews: We Were Killers Once by Becky Masterman

Today my pal Sophia Rose reviews, We Were Once Killers, by Becky Masterman #4 in her Brigid Quinn series.
Sophia Rose take it away!

We Were Killers Once by Becky Masterman
#4 Brigid Quinn
Publisher:  Minotaur Books
Published:  6.4.19
Pages:  320
ISBN:  1250074525
Rating: 4
Format: Paper ARC
Source:  Publisher
Sellers:  Amazon- Barnes& Noble - Kobo

GoodReads Blurb:
Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn returns in Becky Masterman's fourth stunning thriller

In 1959, a family of four were brutally murdered in Holcomb, Kansas. Perry Smith and Dick Hickok were convicted and executed for the crime, and the murders and their investigation and solution became the subject of Truman Capote's masterpiece, IN COLD BLOOD. But what if there was a third killer, who remained unknown? What if there was another family, also murdered, who crossed paths with this band of killers, though their murder remains unsolved? And what if Dick Hickok left a written confession, explaining everything?

Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn and her husband Carlo, a former priest and university professor, are trying to enjoy each other in this new stage in their lives. But a memento from Carlo's days as a prison chaplain--a handwritten document hidden away undetected in a box of Carlo's old things--has become a target for a man on the run from his past. Jerry Beaufort has just been released from prison after decades behind bars, and though he'd like to get on with living the rest of his life, he knows that somewhere there is a written record of the time he spent with two killers in 1959. Following the path of this letter will bring Jerry into contact with the last person he'll see as a threat: Brigid Quinn.

Sophia Rose's Review:

This is not one that I probably would have picked up on my own and not just because it’s the fourth book in a series.  I remember when the Truman Capote movie, In Cold Blood, came out and I had zero interest in watching a story about a couple killers.  This book is a variation on that story asking the ‘what if’ question, "What if there was a third person with Smith and Hickok and what if their killing spree extended further as a result?" 
But, since it was sent to me and I was curious about the added component of a former FBI agent married to a former Catholic priest working on the crime as a cold case only to have it grow hot after many years of lying dormant, I decided to give it a go.

The story was told from two separate perspectives, Beaumont, the third man with Smith and Hickok, getting out of prison decades later for an unrelated crime and determined to tie up any loose ends that will put him right back inside and on death row if forensics place him at either multi-murder crime.  And, there's Brigid, a hardened agent who has always been fascinated by that killing in Kansas that tied to a similar one in Florida where she grew up and now something about her neighbor's new boyfriend and a rash of gang break-ins in the neighborhood have her cop senses tingling.

The author wove fact and fiction well into a solid story.  I will admit that it advances very slowly for a time and then like a snowball rolling on a gradual decline, it picks up pace, faster and faster.  The background, characters, and current situation get established and the author takes her time filling in each with great depth and color.  While the pace was slow, I couldn't really care because I was enjoying the writing and being immersed in the story.

I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know the players who all seemed to have shades of larceny in them even priestly Carlo, but especially Brigid's niece who has an interesting fascination for poisons and chemistry. 
Brigid is an interesting lead character.  She knows that she has a darkness inside her that revels in bringing down criminals in a ruthless manner to rival the criminals she took down.  She tries to hide that side from her husband, Carlo.  She feels jealous and strongly inadequate against the saintly ghost of his first wife whom he still loves and grieves.  It gave Brigid a depth of humanity that is sometimes lacking in many mysteries or thrillers. 
But, Brigid wasn't the only character well developed.  Beaumont's side where he reflects on his life and proceeds through his plans seems imminently reasonable to him whether to bother with a murder or if it would be too much trouble.  He struggles to understand normal human behavior and to catch up on a world that passed him by while he was in prison.

The last few pages were riveting and wrap up the thriller aspect, but also a private one for Brigid.  All in all, I'm glad I took the gamble and read it.  In truth, I couldn't have done the movie, but reading about the true event wrapped in fiction was doable.  I feel that I want to go back for the earlier books in Brigid's story to get those cases, but, I'm also in no rush to do so.  I think those who like to get the psychology along with a crime story would be good matches for this book/series.

My thanks to Minotaur Books for providing this book for me to read and provide an honest review.

Author Bio:
Becky Masterman created her heroine, Brigid Quinn while working as an editor for a forensic science and law enforcement press. Her debut thriller, Rage Against the Dying, was a finalist for the Edgar Awards and the CWA Gold Dagger, as well as the Macavity, Barry, ITW and Anthony awards. Becky lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband.

Sophia’s Bio:
Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.
Sophia’s Social Media Links:


  1. Replies
    1. Sorry Sophia...i should have recognized by the tone that this was you.

    2. Haha! No worries.

      Yes, this was a great surprise for me. I will be hunting down more.

  2. Glad your gamble paid off and you liked this one. You never know jumping into a series. I haven't even heard of the movie so now I'm super curious about it. I will have to look into it and this series. Great review!

    1. Yeah, at first I was just going to set it aside when it came unsolicited because it was book four, but I got curious. Worth it! :)

  3. This sounds really good. Glad to hear you ended up liking this one.

    1. Yeah, it was a good surprise. I was worried it would be too much for me, but the violence wasn't beyond my threshold. :)

  4. Amazing post with lots of informative and useful and amazing content. Well written and done!! Thanks for sharing keep posting.

  5. Hi pal sorry busy with docs etc yesterday. Now this is definitely one I would choose for all the components you mentioned as the reason you did too. I especially like thrillers with out of the box characters. Plus that cover is really eye catching. Thanks for the superb job of taking over the blog!

    1. No worries and hope those visits went well, lady.

      Yeah, what a surprise that this one worked out well for me. Goes to show me that I should be willing to at least try it out. :) Good writing and a fascinating character development so I think you'd enjoy it.

  6. I like the sound of those last few riveting pages

    1. Oh yes! It was a mad rush there and had me on the edge of my seat. :)

  7. Psychology and Criminology have always interested me! This sounds interesting since it's a true event wrapped up in fiction. Great Review Sophia!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    1. Oh yeah. This is just the thing for you then, Lindy. :)