Secrets and Photographs by A. K. Ramirez Banner


by A. K. Ramirez

June 17-28, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


Secrets and Photographs by A. K. Ramirez

The Marissa Ambrose Witness Series


How do you stop a killer you can't even see?

It’s been two years since Detective Marissa Ambrose nearly lost her life working the Couple’s Killer case, but time hasn’t stopped the vivid nightmares. She still carries the heavy guilt of her partner’s death, and the Seattle Police Department refuses to support her theory that the suspect they arrested had an accomplice. With her ex-husband regretfully out of the picture, Marissa was supposed to be focusing on adjusting back to something resembling normalcy in her quiet tourist town. Then the letters came.

Unmarked envelopes full of photographs have been arriving at Marissa’s door. Candid shots of her at home. Now, Marissa is certain the missing murderer is stalking her, tracking her every move to finish what he started. As she obsesses over the strange images, the Seattle PD unexpectedly asks for her help. A serial killer is on the loose and targeting members of the Port Townsend community. Despite a personal connection to the first victim, Marissa agrees to pin her badge on once more.

The photographs are piling up and the suspect can’t be seen by surveillance cameras. Like a ghost, this killer is haunting her.

I received an advance review copy for free and am leaving this review voluntarily. Thank you A. K. Ramirez and Partners In Crime Tours. I'm excited to be a part of this tour.

Secrets and Photographs is the first in the Marissa Ambrose Witness series. This book asks the question How do you stop a killer you can’t see?

It’s been two years since Detective Marissa Ambrose nearly lost her life working the Couple’s Killer case, but time has not stopped the vivid nightmares. She continues to carry the guilt of her partner’s death, and the Seattle Police Department refuses to support her theory that the suspect had an accomplice. With her ex-husband out of the picture, her move to a quiet tourist town is supposed to be focused on getting back to normal. Then the letters came.

Envelopes full of candid pictures begin showing up on her doorstep. Marissa is certain the missing murderer is stalking her and tracking her every move. As she obsesses over the strange images, the Seattle PD unexpectedly asks for her help. A serial killer is on the prowl and targeting members of the Port Townsend community. As the photographs pile up and the suspect remains unseen. The killer is like a ghost and is haunting her.

Living in the PNW, I am a huge fan of books that take place in this area. I also have a personal connection to Port Townsend, having visited it many times and couldn’t wait to dive into this book. This book is well written with deeply developed characters. I really like that the book is told from Marissa’s POV. This allowed the reader to get inside her head while understanding her frustrations both personally and professionally. As I read this book, I rooted for Marissa as I watched her struggle with friendships, work, and intimacy. I also identified with Marissa on multiple levels.

The book is fast paced and filled with a million different red herrings. I literally suspected all the characters at one time. The author also did an excellent job of building depth in the supporting characters. The book kept me engaged and turning pages late into the night. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a well written crime procedural full of mystery and suspense. I will be anxiously awaiting book two, I can’t wait to see how this series evolves. 

Overall Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Praise for Secrets and Photographs:

"This book is Amazing!! I couldn't put it down. I need book 2!!!"
~ Nicola Jamieson

"We love a messy family and a plot thick with dark and winding paths. Truly enjoyed this book and read it very quickly! I am very excited to get a signed copy of the next book that was just released!! AK Ramirez is "one to watch" in the crime/thriller genre. You have a fan for life now."
~ Molly Badgett

"I had the pleasure of meeting this author in Richmond at a convention. I really enjoyed the story. The author pulls you in from the first page. Quick read"
~ Chris Kennedy

"A friend recommended this book to me as I was looking for a new mystery novel and I was so sad when it ended because I wanted more! The writing was exceptional and the story captivated me. Twists I didn’t expect had me reading this book in record time. Absolutely recommend!"
~ Melissa Brown

"I’m a sucker for a good crime novel and this one kept me hooked. I also love books set in the Pacific Northwest - I might be biased since I live in the PNW but I thought the author did a good job of using the coziness of Port Townsend to contrast with the horror of the crimes. I’m looking forward to reading book 2!"
~ April O'Brien

"I was hooked on the book from the beginning. It was a great read. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone that likes mystery and suspense."
~ Diana

"I wasn't sure how much I enjoyed this book at the beginning. It felt like it was moving very slowly. In fact, I was wondering if there was ever going to be a murder when I was about a third done. Then a couple minutes later, a murder! That's when the book sped up! I had a little trouble keeping the two investigations separate. The twist was great! And I did enjoy how the two cases crossed. I felt for Marissa that no one believed her and was thankful when the police started listening to her. She's a great detective and I'm looking forward to revisiting her and hopefully solving the big mystery soon!"

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery Thriller
Published by: 4 Horsemen Publications
Publication Date: November 15, 2022
Number of Pages: 362
ISBN: 9781644506639 (ISBN10: 1644506637)
Series: Marissa Ambrose Witness Series, #1
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads | 4 Horsemen Publications

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Marissa felt cold. She couldn’t see anything, a blindfold tied tightly against her eyes. Music blared against her ears, the throbbing in her head synced with the beat of the music. The cold, rough concrete burned her bare legs, and every time she attempted to adjust them, she felt sharp sensations rush through. She was stiff and cold and tired. Her right hand was handcuffed to something that felt heavy and unbreakable, though she tried to pull away. Time had blurred, and her mind swam, unable to focus on anything. She was thirsty, hungry, and tired. Marissa had never been so frightened in her life.

Someone grabbed her by the arm, squeezing tight as they unlocked her cuff from whatever she was attached to and ushered her along. She whimpered in protest and tugged away from the fingers that dug into her. She thought she heard a laugh in her ear over the music before that hand shoved her hard. She nearly toppled over but fell into another set of hands that caught her in their arms. These weren’t as rough and didn’t grip her as tightly. They held her up as she pulled her legs back under her, and one of the hands rubbed her arm where the other had aggressively gripped. She could feel his breath on her neck as his lips touched her ear, whispering something she couldn’t quite hear.

She gasped, sat up with a start, and sighed, acknowledging she was safe in her room. Ellie was lying on top of her legs, her cold nose poking at her in concern. She rubbed Ellie’s ears, feeling her heartbeat slow to normal. Her chest heavily convulsed as tears fell down her cheeks. Pulling the dog in close, she hugged her tight—a solid reminder she was no longer in that place but inside her bedroom, in her home. Safe.

“Good girl,” she whispered, gripping Ellie’s fur. The shepherd leaned in close, burying her cold nose into her neck.

Leaning back, Marissa glanced over at her clock. It was nearly five.

“Come on. Let’s go downstairs.”

With a heavy sigh, she shifted as Ellie bounced off the bed and toward the door. Marissa swung her legs over the side and winced, aches traveling through her body from her heels as they hit the floor.

“It’s going to be a day,” she mumbled and forced herself to stand.

It was still dark outside, and she was sure the air outside was cold, but the old house was warm. It may have been old, but her mom had updated everything except for the walls. Marissa wandered into the bathroom; she could still hear Ellie bouncing in the hallway, excited to start her day. She did not share the dog’s enthusiasm.

She washed her hands and stared at the reflection that stared back at her. Her dark hair was a tangled mess, and dark circles were under her eyes. Marissa remembered when she took pride in how she looked, brushed her hair several times a day, and had a whole skincare routine. She had been a beauty queen when she was younger. It all seemed so pointless now. Her eyes drifted from her face down to her shoulder with the long, dark scar. Then they drifted to the scar that ran from the bottom of her collarbone across her chest. Her tank top covered most of it, but she knew the rest ran down her side and to her back. She was full of scars now.

She turned the light off and followed Ellie to the hallway, stopping at the top of the stairs. It was the same every morning: the stairs were always daunting. Her ankles locked up like they usually did, forcing her to take slow and precise steps. Once she reached the bottom, she headed to the kitchen and opened the back door, letting Ellie bound out into the dark yard. Sunrise was still a way off, but the sky was beginning to lighten.

She went to the cabinet above the sink and dug out her meds. Since her recovery from the events at the warehouse, Marissa had received a long list of diagnoses: fibromyalgia brought on by trauma, panic attacks, PTSD, and arthritis. Not to mention a rapid heart rate they couldn’t pin down, chronic migraines—so many meds.

Putting on her tea kettle, she set up her teacup and waited for the water to boil. It had taken some time, but Marissa had made her childhood home her own again. Her mom had signed the house over to her while she healed, which gave her full rein to do as she pleased with the place, taking the opportunity to downsize without selling. Port Townsend was not where Marissa thought she would be, especially after so many years in Seattle. She loved the city: the noise, the crowds, the food. The fact that almost everything was open until at least midnight. Not like this tourist town, which felt like it had a town-wide bedtime of 9 p.m. It was known as a charming, quaint town by the sea, and as far as she was concerned, it had lost its charm decades ago.

Slowly but surely, the house was coming together. She sighed, grabbed her hoodie off the hook by her back door, and threw it over her head while letting Ellie back inside. Her mom had done all the hard stuff, remodeling the upstairs and downstairs to an open-concept floorplan and updating the plumbing and electricity. Marissa could see her front door, the living room, the dining room, and a study from the kitchen. Below the stairs was a full bathroom.

As the tea kettle screamed, she poured the water into the cup and watched the steam rise. This was not where Marissa expected to be at thirty-six. Growing up, all she wanted was to get the hell out of this town. She would be married to her high school sweetheart with kids, living in a big city, and making detective. The funny part was, Marissa had married her high school sweetheart. Twice. They’d also had two divorces. She had been living in a big city, owning not one but two properties in Seattle. She had made detective, reaching incredible heights as one of the youngest promoted in her unit. And now, she was back in her childhood home, divorced and alone, still a detective but benched for the unseen future. It felt like a punishment.

Of course, some of it was her doing. She had pushed Jared away and moved back home. Her nightmare wasn’t only when she slept. Her precinct had done all but call her a liar during her recovery when she told them there was more than one assailant. She couldn’t see, so it was simply her word. She had undergone so much; she couldn’t have been sure. That was what her unit had said because it didn’t fit into the profile the SPD had given. People she had trusted with her life didn’t have her back.

She paused for a moment before retrieving the hidden key from her hutch and carefully climbing onto her counter. Despite telling herself she wouldn’t, most mornings she would pull down the box. She winced, pain stretching through her leg as she reached the top of her cabinets to recover a lockbox. Once it was on the counter, she paused as her feet hit the ground. She hoped that one day, something new would stand out. Some tangible clue she could hold in her hands. Ellie came right alongside her and whined, sensing her discomfort. Marissa stretched a hand down, scratching her ear as she unlocked the box and let the photographs pour out onto the countertop. There were candid shots of her going about her day, walking down the street, leaving the bakery, checking her mail. A good stack of them was just Jared. Sometimes they would arrive weekly, and sometimes she would go a few weeks without receiving anything. Or maybe it was just a good reminder of why this was her life now. Why she had chosen to be here, alone. A reminder that her life was in danger.

Local cops and SPD, while agreeing she was a victim of a stalker, wouldn’t connect it to that case because before the warehouse, Marissa hadn’t received any photos. She had been given police protection across the street, but she knew no one had taken her seriously. In the eyes of the law, she hadn’t been threatened and couldn’t identify anyone. She only had pictures that appeared on her doorstep or in her mailbox. She kept them safely locked away, spending most of her days trying hard to forget them. But too often, she found herself thumbing through them. It had become an almost daily ritual.

Once she was satisfied the tea had steeped long enough, she returned the photos to the box and put everything back in its place. Her former partner, Tom, would tell her dwelling over the same pieces of evidence wouldn’t get her anywhere. He had always given her advice like that. He had been so much like the older brother she’d never had, having been the oldest of three sisters. Taking her mug with both hands, she headed out to the backyard, not bothering to turn the light on. She stretched out on her swinging bench and scrolled through her socials. Occasionally, she found her eyes wandering over the backyard, watching for anything or anyone out of place. She knew there was always an officer across the street, watching over her and her home, but they hadn’t proven very helpful yet. They hadn’t managed to see who or how things were being left on her doorstep.

The early morning air was chilly and quiet. The only noises she could hear were Ellie’s panting as she plopped herself down next to Marissa and the occasional breeze blowing by. She glanced at the clock on her phone. Barely any time had passed. Putting her feet up, she finished her tea, put the empty cup down on the side table, and looked out into her dark yard. She needed to rest, but she knew sleep would keep eluding her. She didn’t want to sleep anymore; the nightmares had worsened.

If she had stopped to think about it, she would have realized why. All that mattered was every time she closed her eyes, she was back there again.


Excerpt from Secrets and Photographs by A. K. Ramirez. Copyright 2024 by A. K. Ramirez. Reproduced with permission from A. K. Ramirez. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

A. K. Ramirez

A.K. Ramirez is a mystery writer tucked in a corner of the Pacific Northwest. She likes to weave mystery, and family drama with a little bit of romance all in one. She has participated in NaNoWriMo on and off for years, reaching her goal three times with three different novels, in both the mystery and fantasy genres. When she isn’t writing, she runs a dog training, boarding, and daycare facility or spends time with her husband, kids, and pack of dogs.

Catch Up With A.K. Ramirez:
Instagram - @AKRamirezWrites
Threads - @AKRamirezWrites
Twitter/X - @AKRamirezWrites
TikTok - @AKRamirezWrites
Facebook - @AKRamirezWrites



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  1. YAY!!!! I had a feeling this was going to be a fabulous book! Thanks for the review. :-)


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