Rainey Days by RE Bradshaw (the first of the A Rainy Days thriller series) is a book that I really enjoyed right from the beginning. It drew me in and I found myself wanting more information about the main character Rainey. When we first meet her, she is suffering through her obviously regular morning awakening on the couch in her office with a major hangover and finally throwing up, desperate for a can of Coke. I suspect that many of us may have been at that hangover stage at least once and R. E. Bradshaw’s description is spot on…I was there holding my head in both hands waiting for it to explode.
Rainey drinks to drown the after effects of an attack, which has left her with both physical and mental scars that appear to be getting worse. As the story progresses we find out that she is Special Agent Rainey Bell, who started life as Caroline Marie Herndon in a wealthy North Carolina family. She is a profiler with the FBI and at the beginning of the story is on long term medical leave. Her home is heavily alarmed with a voice connection to the police because one of the serial killers she was investigating attacked her and is still at large.
The story starts when an old schoolfriend JW Wilson, asks her to investigate a stalker who is leaving anonymous messages and close-up photographs of his wife. Rainey spends the rest of the story trying to identify who is causing the current problems, trying to overcome the issues she has left from her attack and the fear of the killer returning, and unravel her feelings for Katie the wife of JW, the woman she is protecting.
Initially, Katie is unaware of both the stalker and the hiring of Rainey. She has several issues with her husband who she believes plays to the media and is selfishly looking after number one and his career, often at her expense. There is a great deal of animosity between them. As the story progresses she has to deal with Rainey and the FBI invading her home, her fear of the situation which spirals out of her control and her feelings for Rainey.
Rainey is the lynchpin of the story and her current emotional state with its twists and turns causing her to do the things she does, is central to the story. She often acts without thinking things through, and while you can see that is part of her training, I felt that she was still carrying the emotional baggage of her horrific attack and that was not helping. Her backstory explains firstly why she is suffering, with so much angst because of both her attack and the death of her father. Secondly it describes that she is straight, having finished a relationship a few years before. I thought “oh dear” at this, because the relationship is discussed and I really do not want to read about some hot woman lusting after a man. However, whilst she is not looking for a relationship, she finds herself attracted to Katie, all the while fighting this attraction with concerns about Katie’s safety.
Katie has a much simpler character arc, which nicely counterbalances the darkness of both Rainey and the story. She is a gifted teacher and much loved by her pupils. She had a miscarriage some months ago following a car accident and is suffering emotionally because she is desperate to have a child. She is the sort of woman that bakes her way out of stress with a very nurturing spirit. I was immediately drawn to her and I found myself quite attracted to her because even though she obviously has issues, she knows her own mind and is not a weak woman.
JW Wilson is a rising star in the political arena, with a lawyer background. He comes over as a rather oily politician with one eye on the how the public sees him. He had many issues as a teenager which Rainey knows about and has not divulged to the media, thus JW feels he can trust her to sort out the stalker and keep the story private.
The Writing Style
The story is well paced, moving along quickly at times, whilst at others allowing introspection by Rainey, almost mirroring the way the investigation is going. I loved the descriptions and scene setting in North Carolina, which I have visited, and R. E. Bradshaw produces well-crafted scenes that mean you can almost smell the waterfront and lakeside.
I loved the emotional elements of this book, they are one of its strengths. This is a stand-alone book, although it is the first in a series, which means there is a lot more of Rainey to come.
Personally, there are none. However, the book does describe Rainey’s attack in detail, which includes a rape that is not described. It does include some violence. There is a later rape that is not described either. Both are essential in my view to the plot. I don’t like reading about rape but found it possible because R. E. Bradshaw needed it for the story and did not describe the details in any way.
This story has all the elements: mystery, psychological drama and romance. And it has the added bonus that if you like it, there are five more to read. We need more books like this!
Excerpt from Rainey Days by RE Bradshaw
Around six o’clock she headed back toward the car. Her stomach growled, as the smells of supper cooking in the South wafted through the trees. She stopped in front of JW’s house and took a picture of the front lawn. She then took pictures going three hundred and sixty degrees from that vantage point. Rainey had just dropped the camera from her eye when she heard a voice behind her.
“May I ask what you are taking pictures of?”
It was not a demand, but a gentle inquiry, complete with Southern lilt. Rainey was shocked that she had been unaware of the woman, who somehow appeared on the other side of the wrought iron gate. It was Katie and she was glowing in the evening sun. Not only was Rainey surprised by her presence, she was taken aback by the sheer attractiveness of this woman. Katie had changed her clothes and was now wearing old gray shorts, rolled up at the waist, and a Tar Heel tank top. She must have been pulling weeds, because she was wearing gardening gloves and carrying a small spade. She had a little dirt on one cheek, which only made her more attractive.
Rainey smiled and put the camera away, before she answered, “It’s such a wonderful street, and I love your wild flowers.”
“Why, thank you,” Katie said, extending her hand in greeting. “My name is Katie Wilson.”
“I’m Caroline,” Rainey replied, shaking her hand. “Caroline Lee.”
Rainey lied, because she could not say her real name. It was too unusual, too easy to remember. Katie was not supposed to know Rainey was there. She removed her sunglasses from the top of her head, where she put them while she took pictures, and placed them over her eyes. She had to get out of there fast.
“It was nice to meet you, Katie,” Rainey said, moving off.
“You too,” Katie said. “Hope you got some nice shots.” Rainey looked back over her shoulder at the smiling Katie. “Thanks,” was all she could manage to say.
Rainey berated herself all the way back to the car. How could she have been so stupid? She was shaken by the fact she did not hear Katie approach, and then she stammered like a nervous schoolgirl when Katie spoke to her.
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9780988352070
Publisher: R. E. Bradshaw Books
R.E. Bradshaw Online