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No Gun Intended is far from a near miss

No Gun Intended: An Annabelle Starkey Mystery

by Zoe Burke

Poisoned Pen Press

Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date: January 5, 2016


No Gun Intended misses its target by a mile. I liked the premise. I liked the description. I didn't like the novel.

Annabelle Starkey is described by the author as Stephanie Plum light. In reality, she is as similar to Stephanie Plum as Sunny D is to orange juice - similar appearance but lacking substance.

Like Stephanie Plum, Annabelle is a magnet for trouble. Unlike Stephanie, Annabelle is not the brightest bulb. From putting DDS on her business card to denote Dumpster Diving Specialist (who doesn’t know DDS = Dentist) to revealing everything to every suspect she questions, Annabelle is far from an ideal investigator. Her musings and comments are not particularly funny, and her film references didn’t come across as pertinent. Also, unlike any film buff I’ve encountered, she didn’t mention lines from the films, detailed sequences, or inside jokes. On the whole, Annabelle Starkey made me wince rather than laugh, and I personally wondered what on earth her boyfriend sees in her.

Annabelle’s mom is supposed to be comparable to Stephanie’s pistol of a grandmother. That doesn’t work well either. Her mother is a potty-mouthed doctor, ok possible. The dialogue however was simply awkward like the author wrote the dialogue and then changed it/added curses to make it more interesting.

Awkward is a good description of No Gun Intended. The plot was “meh”. It didn’t hold my interest. The premise had potential, but the problem was in the execution. I think Zoe Burke was trying to hard to tailor her ideas to a particular market.


No Gun Intended is available for preorder and will be released January 5, 2016.

I received a copy of No Gun Intended from the publisher and in exchange for an honest review.



Fresh from her introduction to the dangerous world of criminals and cons in Jump the Gun, smart, sexy, and movie-crazy Annabelle Starkey flies to Portland, Oregon, to visit to her newly relocated parents. They, like Annabelle, are rebooting their lives—though the directions their new starts will take are not yet clear. Annabelle is now part of a fledgling detective agency headquartered in New York, home turf to her boyfriend, Mickey, just retired from the NYPD.

Safely arrived at her parents’ home, Annabelle is ready to relax when she discovers her backpack has been switched for one holding a gun—a gun linked to a murder. Has she been set up? Or is she simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? The Portland PD isn’t sure. Then a frantic young woman appears and claims the gun is hers. And, worryingly, could the man who sat next to Annabelle on the plane be stalking her?

Alarmed—and absent a gun of her own—Annabelle is armed only with wits, wisecracks, and her ability to run. Mickey and streetwise backup Luis rapidly arrive, adding boots on the ground and their seasoned crime-busting skills, but it is Annabelle who pieces together a case traversing Portland’s patchwork of communities, proving to herself, her partners, and parents that, as investigator, she’s got the right stuff.

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