Judith D Collins
The Tip Line
By: Vanessa Cuti
Narrator: Sarah Naughton
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: 04/18/2023
My Rating: 3 Stars (ARC)
Anxious to get married, thirty-year-old Virginia Carey lands a job as an operator at a police tip line, where she thinks finding a husband will be easy. There’s Charlie Ford, a surprisingly sweet homicide detective, and charming police chief Declan “Deck” Brady. But just as Virginia’s plans begin to fall into place and she can almost picture a ring on her finger, she answers a call from Verona—a mysterious woman who provides a tip about four bodies on a remote local beach.
Verona, a sex worker, also gives Virginia details on sordid and raucous parties attended by law enforcement officers—and on the strange fetishes of cops she has been involved with. Then comes an explosive tip: Verona thinks it’s a police officer who is responsible for the killings.
But it can’t be true—the cops Virginia works with are marriage material, even if they are a little rough around the edges. While Verona trusts that her tips are being heard because she and Virginia have formed an unusual connection, Virginia realizes that the key to solving the case is ultimately in her hands.
The tip line will reveal the truth about those murders. So long as Virginia is willing to hear it.
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Vanessa Cuti’s debut, THE TIP LINE is a domestic drama about a woman who wants to find love and marry. How far will she go to do so?
Virginia Carey seems obsessed with wanting to get married. She is 30 yrs old and lands a job as an operator at a police station where she handles the tip line for incoming crimes. The Suffolk Police Department is primarily male-dominated, and she is a civilian operator.
She thinks this should be easy since she is surrounded by cops that are guys. Charlie Ford is a homicide detective, and Declan Brady is the police chief and can envision the wedding ring and marriage proposal.
Then she receives a call from Verona, a mysterious woman (sex worker) providing a tip about four bodies on a remote local beach. (This is about the only interesting part of the book). She also enlightens Virginia about the scandalous parties attended by law enforcement officers.
Is there a serial killer on the loose? Is it a police officer who is responsible for the murders? Will the tip line uncover the truth about the murders?
Firstly, I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator, Sarah Naughton, gave an outstanding performance. However, the book—NOT so much!
The main character, Virginia, was so naïve and, let me say, completely DELUSIONAL. She is living in some sort of fantasy world. OMG! This woman acted like a young pre-teen, not a 30-year-old woman!
I thought the book would be about mysteries, crime, and suspense; however, the book's focus was Virginia wanting to get married. Is this the 1950s?
I wanted to learn more about the murders, not Virginia wanting to get married, which seems to be front and center.
I fast-forwarded to most of it to get through it. A very unlikeable character. Maybe this book will be for someone, but definitely NOT for me.
Let me reiterate. This is NOT a police procedural. It is NOT a psychological thriller. This story is about a crazy woman and her innermost thoughts, a delusional mind. The story is narrated from Virginia’s POV, and being in her head was absolutely tiring, nerve-racking, and eye-rolling.
I will have to agree with many of the other reviewers. The book description does not fit the book. It drove me nuts. There was so much potential for a different story here.
I am being overly generous with a 3-star rating only because the narrator did a great job with what she had to work with. The book alone would be much less.
Thanks to #DreamscapeMedia for an ALC via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 3 Stars (for the audiobook)
Pub Date: April 18, 2023
“Exceptional debut . . . sharply honed prose . . . [For] fans of Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley novels.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The Tip Line is a stunning blend of true crime and fiction. Both funny and disturbing, with complex characters and eye-popping twists. Surprising to the very end.”
—Samantha Downing, internationally bestselling author of For Your Own Good
“The Tip Line is an unsettling, bold, and beautifully written debut that explores one woman’s quest for Mr. Right against the backdrop of an unthinkable crime, asking us to consider the fraught relationships between trust and denial, love and complicity. Propulsive and whip-smart with an ending that made me gasp. Vanessa Cuti is an incredible talent.”
—Caitlin Mullen, award-winning author of Please See Us
“An intimate and gripping tale that plunges you into a reimagining of the real-life case of the Gilgo Beach Murders. True crime fans won't want to miss The Tip Line.”
—Mindy Carlson, author of Her Dying Day
“A slow-burning and clever reimagining of the Gilgo beach murders, I was riveted by The Tip Line and Virginia’s twisting story. With a full cast of suspicious characters and an ending I couldn’t stop thinking about, true crime fans will devour this one.”
—Kali White, author of The Monsters We Make
“A young woman who claims she only wants to find a husband soon admits, ‘Maybe I wanted to see what I was capable of.’ This taut erotic thriller tests a woman’s trust of a man she is in thrall to. Cinematic, visceral, and truly unnerving, The Tip Line conjures increasingly difficult feats of denial in the service of love.”
— Amy Hempel, author of Sing to It
“A psychological thriller written on the edge of a scalpel through one woman’s mind. You won’t be able to put down this reimagining of the Gilgo Beach murders. I’ve found my new favorite author in Vanessa Cuti.”
—Sara Herchenroether, author of The Night Flowers
About the Author
Vanessa Cuti's fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories 2021, The Kenyon Review, AGNI, West Branch, Indiana Review, Cimarron Review, The Cincinnati Review, Shenandoah, The Rumpus and others. She received her MFA from Stony Brook University and lives in the suburbs of New York. The Tip Line, her debut novel, is forthcoming from Crooked Lane Books in April 2023.