Review: Dead Week by Kelly Brakenhoff

About The Book:

Dead Week (A Cassandra Sato Mystery Book 2) by Kelly Brakenhoff

Elizabeth PenneyWill Dead Week kill Cassandra’s career?

VP of Student Affairs Cassandra Sato has a desk full of problems and it’s not even Thanksgiving break.

A student’s injury and a deaf advocacy project brings national media attention to underfunded Morton College.

Cassandra’s new boss talks to her dead husband. Cassandra’s mentor thinks he’s a superhero in a senior citizen’s body. And Cassandra, recently moved from Hawai’i, can’t crack the code of what to wear during November in Nebraska.

Is there more to the Vietnam-era story of a student’s death? Cassandra’s search for the long-buried truth stirs up the wrath of those who want to keep the past forgotten.

Book Links: Amazon


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In Dead Week, Cassandra Sato is a long way from home. Having landed her dream job, in this second installment in Kelly Brakenhoff’s Cassandra Sato Mystery series,  Sato has moved from Hawaii to work at Merton College in Nebraska. Her first winter is turning out to be quite heated with a new boss that is looking to close down her best programs, national advocacy protestors on campus and a mystery that stretches back over the decades and could leave a vulnerable co-ed in danger.

This is a different kind of cozy and I found it quite enjoyable. A possible, but seemingly unprovable assault and a connection to long distant car accident doesn’t seem to add up to much, but Cassandra never wavers.

Brakenhoff has done a wonderful job of conveying the culture shock of a move to the midwest. I could instantly relate, though my own move was only from So. California. Daily highs that take the thermometer nowhere close to a high temp, falling leaves and falling snow, along with a nearly universal passion for college sports are really just the beginning of learning a new way of life. With a little help from her friends, I will say that Cassandra is actually acclimating nicely. 

The glimpse into her friends, coworkers, and students is so authentic that it kind of feels like a real-life glimpse into the back office workings of a major university. It makes one wonder if there really is a grumpy hermit advisor napping in his uni office somewhere. I often thought that this how some of my college advisors spent their days. Brakenhoff has also managed quite well to lay out a balanced portrayal of both sides of advocacy. On one side the passion and the need for change. On the other, the possible costs and the need to have the ability to effect the change. The reminder that there are always many sides to an issue and the biggest problem is in all those sides communicating effectively, is quite timely.

Once Cassandra gets into full mystery-solving mode, not even a little snow accumulation will stop her. The mysteries are pretty solid and kept me guessing to the end. I will admit to wanting the bad guy to be the bad guy, only due to my own irritation with that type of character, but I was as surprised as anyone for it to be true. Still, the clues were there all along. I can see myself enjoying more from Kelly Brakenhoff and Cassandra Sato.

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I received a complimentary evaluation copy of this book. All opinions and insights are my own.


About The Author:

KELLYBRAKENHOFF-2KELLY BRAKENHOFF is an American Sign Language Interpreter whose motivation for learning ASL began in high school when she wanted to converse with her deaf friends. Her first novel, Death by Dissertation, kicked off the Cassandra Sato Mystery Series. She also wrote Never Mind, first in a children’s picture book series featuring Duke the Deaf Dog. She serves on the Board of Editors for the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf publication, VIEWs. The mother of four young adults and two dogs, Kelly and her husband call Nebraska home.

Her first mystery, Death by Dissertation, released April 22, 2019

Author Links: Website / Amazon / Twitter / Instagram / BookBub / Goodreads


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