The Tenth Nail

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
395 Pages
Reviewed on 07/01/2017
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Kwen knew he wanted to be a writer when he was fourteen years old. He felt the urge when he finished Earnest Hemingway’s masterpiece For Whom The Bell Tolls. The story touched him in a way no other book ever had. It transported a kid born and raised on a farm and ranch in Idaho to the mountains of Spain. It took him back in time forty years to witness the Spanish Civil War. Kwen knew he wanted to share that wonder with other people.

Often asked what genre he writes, Kwen replies he writes stories about people and uses the genre that best fits the story. “I think of the genre, or setting as another character that interacts to help tell the story,” he says.

His most often received and constant comment is how real his characters seem. Upon the completion of his historical fiction trilogy Sam and Laura books, a reader telephoned Kwen and directed him to write more stories about the couple. When asked why the reader was so adamant about more stories, he replied he “wasn’t ready to tell Sam and Laura good bye yet.”
Kwen considers that comment one of his highest compliments.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite

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.

Deborah Lloyd

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!

Liz Konkel

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!

Arya Fomonyuy

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.

Jessica Barbosa

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.