The Dead Key

  • by D. M. Pulley
  • Narrated by Emily Sutton-Smith
  • 13 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

2014 Winner - Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award - Mystery & Thriller
It's 1998, and for years the old First Bank of Cleveland has sat abandoned, perfectly preserved, its secrets only speculated on by the outside world.
Twenty years before, amid strange staff disappearances and allegations of fraud, panicked investors sold Cleveland's largest bank in the middle of the night, locking out customers and employees and thwarting a looming federal investigation. In the confusion that followed, the keys to the vault's safe-deposit boxes were lost.
In the years since, Cleveland's wealthy businessmen have kept the truth buried in the abandoned high-rise. The ransacked offices and forgotten safe-deposit boxes remain locked in time until young engineer Iris Latch stumbles upon them during a renovation survey. What begins as a welcome break from her cubicle becomes an obsession as Iris unravels the bank's sordid past. With each haunting revelation, Iris follows the looming shadow of the past deeper into the vault - and soon realizes that the key to the mystery comes at an astonishing price.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Underestimating the Secretary Pool

I'd make a reasonable bet that D.M. Pulley is a woman. She/He(?) writes a terrific and atmospheric thriller, but it's the female characters who make this read different and, I think, quite special.

It's all about underestimated women. Back in 1978, there's Beatrice. We know she has a fearful past at only 16 and has had to fabricate some facts to get her job at a Cleveland bank. She cringes and whines and feels sorry for herself (she's a teenager after all!), but we quickly start forgiving her for that because she's also intuitively intelligent and courageous when she figures out that something at work is very, very wrong.

Jump ahead to the turn of the 21st century, and we have Iris. She's a young engineer in a job she finds tedious. Her assignment to measure and evaluate a soon-to-be-sold downtown building (the old bank, of course) seems just one step up from working in the cubicle. Yet she soon becomes intrigued by the fact that this long empty structure appears to have been quickly abandoned, with offices and desks and files still brimming with personal belongings and old records. For 20 years, the location has been preserved in place as though it were an archeological site - and that's odd for a lot of reasons. The old ghosts (including Beatrice) seduce her into the mystery.

There are men aplenty in both time periods - some who help the women and some who represent the worst of the "Mad Men" syndrome. There's money, politics, corruption in high places, and a satisfying outcome.

Some of it may be pretty far-fetched, and it goes on a tad bit too long. But Beatrice and Iris and a darn good narrator make for a worthwhile and intriguing listen.
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- C. Telfair

Way better that I expected

This book was rather interesting for me in a few different ways. I am a usual fantasy/scifi reader so a thriller/mystery isn't my niche and I don't have much to compare it to. Based on just reviews I was expecting this to be a two maybe three star read. There was a lot of people saying how unrealistic the book was, and maybe it was- but since I wasn't around in the 70s or an adult in the 90s I don't really know how the banking system was. I do believe the level of corruption was just right in this novel. It was so nice to have such a tangled ball of greed be pulled apart piece by piece revealing the sordid details of both the past and present. This maybe would have been five stars for me if I didn't absolutely hate Iris, one of the main characters. And I mean I hate her. I spent a lot of the book just rolling my eyes at her. She is an insecure, needy female who spends most of her time drunk and has a cigarette in her hand any chance she gets. The amount of smoking in this book made me crave fresh air. I do think they used her character traits very nicely in the story however especially in explaining some of the twists at the end. Now as for Beatrice, the second female lead, I loved her. The author was able to weave the details of a story told decades apart beautifully. The story was so intricate I didn't have the ending spelled out for me and also elegant enough as to flow seamlessly between decades without losing the reader. I highly recommend giving this a try.
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- Bettie

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-01-2015
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio