Review: Nothing to Lose (Ziba MacKenzie, #2) by Victoria Selman

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Thomas & Mercer | 2019

Filed Under: Déjà vu

Listen, I like this series!! Maybe it won’t sound like it for the bulk of this review, but I do. I like the character of Ziba. I think she’s interesting, layered and a tough female character in this genre. But this sequel to Blood for Blood persists in my biggest problem from the first book – Ziba, and the rest of the cops, are starting to seem really fucking dumb. Ziba is described as a highly skilled criminal profiler and ex-special forces badass, but she consistently whiffs on seeing the very obvious answer to a mystery. She takes FOR👏EV👏ER to pick up a clue the reader will catch immediately. That’s a problem.

This is mostly an author issue. The being, you think you’re writing something very twisty and hard to figure out, but objectively you’re not, so the highly-skilled main character doesn’t live up to the big description she’s been given. The reader will be screaming “HELLOOO!!! How are you not getting this?!” at Ziba about halfway through.

I wish it wasn’t so. I truly do. Because this UK-based crime series is heads above other UK-crime series in a lot of ways – no recycled tropes or character types, and no fucking book covers of a woman in a red coat walking through some kind of goddamn field.

Where are you going, lady?! The crimes happened in central London! There’s nothing in that field!

phoebe buffay friends GIF

I also need the author to chill the fuck out when it comes to her criminal profiling lectures. There’s got to be a better way to share this information without making me feel like you’re writing a paragraph for readers who have never picked up a crime novel before. I’ve got Wikipedia and 15-seasons of Criminal Minds on DVD too, lady! Not everything needs to be a Ted Talk.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

Ziba is hunting a killer who is murdering women who look strikingly similar to her in both trivial things like hair colour and deeper aspects like ethnicity. Is Ziba a target herself? Well, duh. That’s not a spoiler, but fuck if Ziba doesn’t take 800 years to figure it out. While doing the serial killer task force thing, Ziba also becomes laser-focused on the mystery behind her husband’s horrific murder. This novel explored the circumstances of that tragedy a lot more than the first, giving you a better understanding of Ziba’s grief and motivations.

The dead husband thing, and the ending of the novel, started to reach Qanon levels of conspiracy and weirdness, so I wasn’t exactly into it. But I’ve said that before. It’s a personal taste thing. I’m just not into conspiracies and government shit. It comes close to crossing the line into sci-fi as it requires so much suspended disbelief. I just don’t have it in me.

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That said, I like this series. It relies heavily on the psychological element of profiling to catch criminals and that 100% works for me – even if Ziba isn’t as quick to figure shit out as the reader. The secondary characters are brought to life as individuals and the interactions between them and Ziba are spicy; punchier than the typical in other procedurals. Ziba was more human in this second novel, more of her life is explored and she had deeper human moments outside of the case that provided a clearer picture of her life, and where her head and heart are at.

I love when a crime thriller can introduce more personal aspects of the main character without forcing a cheesy romance subplot or creating drama for drama’s sake. Cops are more than their careers, and to explore that in a genuine way is always going to work for me.

This is a solid police procedural that appears to be setting up something big for the next novel. I’m here for it.


He’s looking for his next victim. She looks just like his last.

Primrose Hill, London. Offender Profiler Ziba MacKenzie arrives at the scene of a gruesome murder with a disturbing sense of déjà vu. Nine days earlier, another woman’s body was found: same location, same MO, same physical appearance. For the police, it’s clear a new serial killer is on the loose. But for Ziba, it’s even more sinister—because the victims look just like her.

Ziba has been the focus of a killer’s interest before, and knows that if she gets too close again this case could be her last. Still, she’s not one to play by the rules—especially when her secret investigation into her husband’s murder begins to attract unwanted attention.

With someone watching her every step, can Ziba uncover what connects the two victims before she becomes one herself? 

Book source: The publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a review

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