Inside is the first in the Bulletproof trilogy by Brenda Novak. Virgil Skinner has just spent fourteen years inside the prison system for a crime he didn't commit. Virgil may not have committed the crime he was charged with, murder, but he hasn't come out of the system an innocent man. Virgil joined a gang for protection while inside and cannot freely leave. Once you're in a gang you're in for life . . . or until death. It's bad enough he has the gang issue hanging over his head, but while inside he protected himself from deadly violence with deadly violence. As a result of these actions he has been "asked" to assist the California Department of Corrections in deterring another gang in the worst prison in the state, Pelican Bay, for a chance at a truly clean slate.
Enter Peyton Adams, the Chief Deputy Warden at Pelican Bay. She is adamantly opposed to Virgil going undercover. She feels that it isn't possible to protect him from possible gang-related violence and she doesn't trust him. In a few short days Peyton learns that there is much more to Virgil than meets the eye and she begins to admire and respect him. Virgil only wants to protect his family, his sister and her kids, from possible gang retaliation and maybe get a fresh start in life.
Gangs, prisons and undercover work apparently don't mix, at least not in a small town. It isn't possible to keep a secret, especially in a small town where everyone knows everyone else. What ensues is a rush to beat the clock and get the information that CDC wants while protecting Virgil and ensuring he gets what he wants. Throw in some not-so-honest correctional officials, a gang on the hunt for retaliation against Virgil, a family on the run and the suspense gets knocked up a few notches. Inside starts this series off with a bang and makes for a great weekend read.
In Seconds by Brenda Novak continues with the ongoing saga of Virgil Skinner and his family. The action takes place four years later and Virgil is now married to Peyton. The feared gang retaliation and threats continue and as a result Virgil, Peyton and Virgil's sister Laurel, have been forced to move several times. Virgil and Peyton are now residing in upstate New York. Laurel has relocated to Montana with her two children. She is now known as Vivian and trying to rebuild her life.
Although neither Virgil nor Laurel is a part of the Witness Protection (or WitSec) program, they both knew that you don't maintain contact with family members. Laurel resides in an area without cell phone coverage and she hasn't been able to sever ties with her mother. As in Inside, the good (and possibly) bad thing about living in a small town is that everyone knows everyone. Laurel, a.k.a. Vivian, fears that her identity has been blown when a local real estate agent is murdered for no reason. It turns out her fears are not baseless.
Laurel knows that there isn't much her brother can do, especially since Peyton is in the last trimester of a difficult pregnancy and they have a toddler at home. She also isn't willing to trust her neighbor, Sheriff Myles King to protect her and her children. Just when she thinks that things can't get any worse she finds out that her mom has been murdered by the gang and they definitely know where she is living. What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse, not only for Laurel and Myles but also for Virgil and the new leader of the gang. Will they be able to protect their families in time? In Seconds provides plenty of suspense and some light romance and makes for a quick but satisfying read. Look for In Seconds to be released this August.
Disclaimer: I received IN SECONDS free for review purposes from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."