The Tenth Nail

Book Cover: The Tenth Nail
Part of the Nate & Clare series:

Recipient of Literary Titan's Gold Award

Awarded three Five Star Reviews from Readers' Choice

Nate knelt beside the dead girl. This wasn’t his first homicide, it wasn’t even the first dead prostitute he’d investigated. It wasn’t the first strangling death he’d been assigned to. But, this one bothered him.

Maybe it was her youth, she appeared to be in her early twenties. Maybe it was her looks, as death had yet to rob her of her beauty. Maybe she reminded him of his own daughter, Lizzie, who was only a few years younger. Maybe it was something else entirely.

He carefully took her hand and studied the broken and torn fingernails.  She had fought so hard to live.  Looking into the lifeless eyes, Nate makes the girl a promise.  He would bring her killer to justice.  He would, as best he could right the wrong done to her.

The Tenth Nail is the story of a homicide detective obsessed in finding and catching  the killer of a streetwalker. It is fast paced, with well-developed characters and a twist at the end most will not see coming.

Reviews:Thomas Anderson on Literary Titan Book Reviews wrote:

The Tenth Nail, written by Kwen Griffeth is a novel that revolves around a homicide detective Nate Burns and his new partner Manuel Trujillo as they work together to solve the murder of a beautiful young woman, Via. Via is a prostitute and one night she is approached by a handsome man who lures her into an alley where she ultimately meets her demise. To avenge her death and find her killer, Nate and Manny, the dynamic duo, find themselves caught in a case that will twist and turn through good and evil and eventually lead to a mystery that will rock the core foundations of every police officer.

Kwen Griffeth’s edgy crime novel, The Tenth Nail, will have your heart racing in anticipation to find out what happens next as you are thrown right into the action with a murder in the first pages. A mix of crime, a dash of seduction and air of mystery, The Tenth Nail will fulfill your whodunnit fix and leave you eager for more. From prostitutes to police officers and the sweet life on a quiet farm to the busy strips on Las Vegas, this novel will take you on a whirlwind adventure of murder, integrity and seduction.

The character development is by far one of my favorite aspects of this story. Nate Burns, a strong man in both nature and physique is an honest family man who is determined to solve the murder of street walker, Via. He resembles something of a Texas cowboy, who loves his horse Babe, his wife and two children and demands attention and respect when he enters a crime scene. As the story develops you learn about his intriguing past that haunts his nightmares of today and the reader will slowly find the skeletons in his closet are indications of a man far more complex than you first expect.

At times I was disappointed at the integrity of characters and readers will question their belief that policemen are heroes and instead begin to realize that they too are people with their own set of complex beliefs and emotions. It gives you a taste of what many in our police force deal with daily and how they learn to become desensitized to some of the horrors that most ordinary folk will never encounter. Some of the events will leave other characters maturing into heroes and other characters developing into something more sinister.

One of my favorite lines in the story is when Nate tells Manny that fashion is “part biology, mixed with a little psychology, and spiced with sociology” as we all crave a little attention, even if it is just walking across a room. The entire novel is filled with ideas that encourage you to ponder about our world and where our own set of beliefs come from.

This novel is by far one of the most gripping stories I have encountered and Kwen Griffeth’s has an incredible ability to create a story that is riveting, entertaining, creative and leaves the reader gasping for more answers until the shocking end. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves a fast-paced thriller styled novel.

Arya Fomonyuy on Readers' Favorite wrote:

Five Star Review

The Tenth Nail by Kwen Griffeth is a crime mystery, a story that revolves around a homicide investigation with very unusual twists. Detective Nate is assigned to a murder case involving a young and beautiful prostitute, murdered in a ruthless manner. Although this isn’t his first homicide, it affects him more than any other as the young victim reminds him of his own daughter. Can Nate and his partner find the killer? Driven to a point of near obsession with the case, the reader follows two detectives as they work feverishly to unravel the mystery behind the homicide, but they are to make discoveries and travel a path that few detectives have. 

Kwen Griffeth has crafted very compelling characters. I loved the portrait of Nate and his passion to find the murder. The author did a great job researching forensic science and I felt convinced about the scenes involving this aspect of the investigation. The plot is beautifully imagined; it is gripping and it is infused with numerous unexpected surprises for readers. The end is satisfying, nothing close to what the reader could have imagined as they turned the pages. The narrative style is simple and the author combines vivid descriptions with natural-sounding, believable dialogues to enhance plot, character, and conflict. The Tenth Nail features great prose. I found it tantalizing to read. I enjoyed the images that came across in the writing, including the crime itself, the compelling characters, the excellent prose, and the gripping plot. The Tenth Nail is perfect entertainment for fans of murder and mystery. 

Deborah Lloyd on Readers' Favorite wrote:

A Five Star Review

The case of the murder of a prostitute in Albuquerque, known on the streets as Via, is assigned to homicide detective Nate Burns and his new partner, Manny Trujillo. They soon discover that “Via” is a 23-year-old University of New Mexico student named Maria Salazar Benson, who chose a dangerous research topic. Nate promises Maria’s lifeless body that he will find her killer, although these kinds of cases are usually closed with no convictions. There are several unusual aspects of this case that continue to puzzle the two detectives. In The Tenth Nail by Kwen D. Griffeth, this complicated case is just the beginning of understanding the enigmatic life of the main character, Nate Burns. Nate’s family includes his loving wife, Clare, and their 13 and 10-year-old daughters; his horse, Babe, provides some serenity in his life. As solving the case becomes more elusive, Nate and Manny travel to Las Vegas for a detective conference. During a meal with fellow detectives, some new facts are revealed, giving them some hope of finding the murderer.

The author is an excellent storyteller, as he develops a wonderfully complex tale with multiple storylines and entanglements between the characters. The reader may believe he has a good understanding of a character until the author adds another fact that changes his perspective. There is a realistic tone throughout the book, and the writing is clear and concise. Kwen D. Griffeth has written a thrilling mystery in The Tenth Nail, with the outcome unknown until the last pages. An intriguing work and not to be missed!

Jessica Barbosa on Readers' Favorite wrote:

Kwen Griffeth’s "The Tenth Nail" centers around Nate Burns, known as ‘Natty’ to his wife, a senior detective of the Albuquerque Police Department, who solves cases with an iron fist and brutal determination. Along with his new partner, Manny Trujillo, and several other trustworthy colleagues, he tries to solve a case involving a young student prostitute’s murder. Little does he know that this case will lead him not only on a wild goose chase for the suspect, but it will also make him confront the demons of his past.

If you’re a fan of action and mystery, then this is the book for you. Nate Burns is a one-of-a-kind guy who doesn’t let anyone push him around and is serious about bringing the killer to justice. At first, I thought he seemed intimidating and aloof, but soon I realized that it was because he takes great pride in being one of the best, and he takes his work more seriously than anyone. Surprisingly though, despite outward appearances and his reputation, he is sympathetic to the victims, respectful of those he deems acquaintances, and can sometimes be too emotionally involved in a case - which is what makes him work harder than any other detectives. This is what made the book appealing to me. Although Nate does things his own way, he never loses sight of bringing justice to the victims.

The book had a well thought out plot and at times it felt as if I was there myself, looking over the crime scene and brainstorming with other detectives. The cases weren’t the only entertainment I found in the book; the characters’ interactions with each other also played a role in keeping me hooked. I loved the way some of the characters tried to think of ways to win against each other; their individuality really stood out and made me personally invested in each of them and their impact on the story. Overall, this is a great book, surprising me with its depth, many twists, and the ending I definitely did not see coming.

Liz Konkel on Readers' Favorite wrote:

The Tenth Nail by Kwen D. Griffeth follows homicide detective Nate Burns who has lost his way since the death of his partner years ago. Nate pulls away from his family to devote his time to his job. He joins forces with his new partner, Manny, to solve the murder of a prostitute that went by the name of Via. With no ID and no evidence left by the killer, the two turn to an eccentric medical examiner and a rich hacker for help. Old cases come back to haunt him as a killer comes to light, but can they put all the pieces together before the killer strikes again? 

The characters are layered, real, flawed, lost, and possess an off-beat, quirky humor. Nate has a personality similar to a hard-boiled detective: cynical, brash, tragic, with an obsession to stop killers. He doesn't make the best decisions, and makes mistakes, but he does have a complete journey as he finds his way back to letting his wife in on what he goes through. Kwen D. Griffeth tackles a lot of serious issues, digging into the darker side of humanity, but also presents a sense of hope and new beginnings. The Tenth Nail is a compelling and emotional investment, a gritty detective story where every detail matters, a page turner with twists that keep you going until the end. At the heart, it's a story of people, of justice, of morals, family, and what it means to start over. The perfect read for crime novel lovers!

Marta Tandori on Readers' Favorite wrote:

Five Star Review

The Tenth Nail is an entertaining police procedural whodunit, written by talented writer, Kwen D. Griffeth. Seasoned Albuquerque homicide detective, Nate Burns, and his new partner, Manuel (Manny) Trujillo, have been assigned a new case; finding the killer of a pretty young streetwalker found behind an alley. Nate quickly takes charge as his younger partner watches him kick out and alienate fellow cops contaminating his crime scene. Nate tells Manny that if it was a john that killed the young woman, their chances of finding him would be about as likely as finding a needle in a haystack. Despite Nate’s somewhat jaundiced outlook, Manny is impressed by Nate’s professionalism, realizing that under the gruff exterior, there lies a man dedicated to doing his job. And what begins as a relatively straightforward case soon has Nate and Manny following up a number of clues and seeming dead ends as their search for young Via’s killer really begins to heat up…

A really good whodunit has two crucial elements – a good plot and solid characters. The Tenth Nail has both. The “buddy cop” relationship between Nate and Manny creates a great dynamic. Nate has experience that demands respect from his peers, albeit not necessarily their friendship. He’s been through the trenches, loves his wife and two kids, and is dealing with personal demons and injuries that make us remember that he’s human after all. In addition to the interesting relationship between the two protagonists, there’s also some great supporting characters that give the story its meat, like Winston Rawls, the boy genius evidence tech whose love for classic movie leading ladies and undying love for his cat, Sir Isaac Newton, add just the right amount of humor to an otherwise grim story. There’s also plenty of twists and turns, not to mention action, as Nate and Manny are put through their paces, keeping the story interesting. Griffeth manages to find the right balance between dialogue and narrative, with the dialogue realistic in its cop speak. For lovers of police procedurals who like a bit of quirk in their characters and a great whodunit, The Tenth Nail delivers on all fronts.