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THE DEAD KEY: A Mystery & Thriller Award Winner ~D.M. Pulley

“ ‘The board of the bank is made up of every old money man in town.  No project gets built in Cleveland without someone from the bank being involved.  Every project that lost money had a board member of First Bank of Cleveland at the helm, but the feds can’t put a case together.  City council won’t provide corroborating witnesses.  Judges won’t grant search warrants.”  He shook his head, exasperated.” (Loc 4599 of 6682)

2014 WINNER – Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award – Grand Prize and Mystery & Thriller Fiction Winner.

The DEAD KEY was not a high-speed page-turner, rather the story built upon the measuring tape and efforts of a very young recent engineering graduate and her new job, documenting a very old bank, which had been locked and abandoned in 1978 – December 1978.  The 15 story huge building had captured the interest of some developer and they needed architectural plans for the new designs and expectations.  Iris the recent graduate of Case Western Reserve University is hired to complete the survey and get the plans processed, and then translated to the computer as fast as she is able in the summer of 1998.

I went to High School in Cleveland, moving there from a State of 3 million people to a City of 3 million people when I was 16.  I found the city grey and ugly and so dirty.  My Father was constantly explaining it was Industrial and depressed; the flowers and trees seemed to be depressed and the snow grey and dirty.  I loved sitting in on lectures at Case Western Reserve University and on Saturdays spent the day in the Hough Area working in the Homework club with new readers and later in the day with seniors that needed housekeeping or shopping completed for them.  I learned that the vegetables in the Hough area were not fresh nor- the same price as out in the suburbs. I won a Microwave oven from the Cleveland Illuminating Company with a whole package of new innovations for the kitchen after taking their class.  I gave the package to the Hough Area schools because my high school thought it was demeaning to want to know about these kinds of products.

Why does my story make any difference, because Iris, our main gal in the story is sullen, and bored and trapped in her situation and feels the same as I found people in the late 60s.  Iris is definitely depressed until she starts to use her mind and is scared by the strange things and sounds going on in that old and dark, dank, hidden bank.  Iris feels she is being followed and talked too though the duct work and as though messages are being left for her from Beatrice Baker, a very young secretary in the Audit division of the Bank.  The story begins to build on Beatrice in 1978 and Iris in 1998.  The tension builds with flies and spiders and tunnels and noises and strange and cryptic writing.  I don’t want to leave out the dirty old men and their born to wealth children, the snobbery and the power / control issues all experienced from the secretarial pool and the people working on survival mode.  Lots of womanizing and Mad mannish drinking and roughing /threatening folks who are doing the work.

Cleveland crashed because of the dirty old wealthy men in 1978

I was excited that there was a bit of discussion about Mayor Dennis Kucinich and Nixon’s laws for the white and wealthy, but very little and that made me sad.  Iris and the author keep those discussions small and focus on how they might be reflected on the building and the outcomes for the future.

As Ohio is on the royalty list for voter suppression and economic inequality – especially for women and ethnic groups there is quite an exciting opportunity for more books from this State of Being and such a depressed environment.

About the Author (from the cover)

“D.M. Pulley’s first novel, THE DEAD KEY, was inspired by her work as a structural engineer in Cleveland, Ohio.  During a survey of an abandoned building, she discovered a basement vault full of unclaimed safe-deposit boxes.  The mystery behind the vault haunted her for years, until she put down her calculator and started writing.  THE DEAD KEY as the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Grand Prize Winner.  Pulley continues to work as a private consultant and forensic engineer, investigating building failures and designing renovations.  She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband and two children and is currently at work on her second novel.  Visit her website at www.dmpulley.com

TLC Book Tours  sent me an un-proofed/uncorrected digital copy for review.  Digital copies are being offered for free on Amazon on the first few days of the book tour.

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12 Responses to “THE DEAD KEY: A Mystery & Thriller Award Winner ~D.M. Pulley”

  1. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Patricia — The part that attracts me to this book is when you shared, “The story begins to build on Beatrice in 1978 and Iris in 1998” and the seeming current connection (maybe even contact?) between them.
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted..The Zen of GlassMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    You have certain touched bases with your question in your comment

    I also am with Sara , the amount Iris smoked and drank was a bit overwhelming in the story.

    I lived in Cleveland during it’s dying days – oh so polluted and dirty grey everywhere. And now what a recovery
    Patricia recently posted..THE TUSK THAT DID THE DAMAGE: A Novel ~Tania JamesMy Profile

  2. Talon Says:

    I’ll look forward to catching up with your excellent reviews, Patricia. Hope you and Zip are well and are experiencing some fine Spring weather (which is notably absent in our area!).
    Talon recently posted..A RuseMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Nice to see you back and thank you for the nice email note. Oh that flu was awful to deal with and recover from

    Patricia Reply:

    Hi Kim,
    Hope that virus is gone now, we are finally having some amazing weather and I wish I was out walking and enjoy the spring blaze of blooms. Our Procession of the Species and Arts walk is coming up soon. Oh I hope I can go and walk around.

    Wishing everyone up and health…So wonderful to find you here
    hugs – another book to be published – hip hurrah
    Patricia recently posted..THE BOY WHO LOVED RAIN: A NOVEL ~Gerard KellyMy Profile

  3. Sara Says:


    I actually read this book! It surprised because I wasn’t fond of Iris in the beginning, but she grew on me…as did the story. I loved the time changes and Beatrice and Max as well as the mystery of what happened at the bank.

    The only negative I had with this story, which is completely unrelated to the writing, was it bothered me Iris smoked so much. She was constantly smoking. However, it didn’t stop me from enjoying this book:~)
    Sara recently posted..Picture QuoteMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    The smoking and drinking was fairly overwhelming as part of Iris’s despair and until her start to move forward.

    Interesting mystery and city tour in this story.

    I liked the book the more I read
    Patricia recently posted..THE TUSK THAT DID THE DAMAGE: A Novel ~Tania JamesMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    The author sent me a number of tweets – one of which she indicated Iris got her act together and was living healthy and cigarette free!

  4. Heather J. @ TLC Says:

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

    Patricia Reply:

    Heather J
    Good read

  5. janice Says:

    I’m afraid I rarely read book reviews, Patricia, so I feel a bit guilty that I can’t participate or support you much over here in your blog home, but I just wanted to say I enjoyed reading about your own past, the details of your time in Cleveland. Living on the other side of the world, I like hearing about lives and places I’ve only ever read about or seen on the screen.

    Patricia Reply:

    No worries, I just love reading and sharing my thoughts about books…We have a good conversation on your blog and reading your lovely words.

    I do think you might enjoy Concidence by Ironmonger…about Africa and England with an amazing study of life and history…

    I can imagine you adding the perfect song to the thoughts you share about that story!
    Patricia recently posted..THE BOY WHO LOVED RAIN: A NOVEL ~Gerard KellyMy Profile