Pretenses Reviews


Ann Coulter

Jada Pinkett-Smith

Wicked Wisdom

Phillip Thomas Duck

Alisha Yvonne

Laura Schlessinger

Dr. Frederick K.C. Price

James Patterson

Eric Jerome Dickey

Jackie Collins

L.A. Banks

Brandon Massey

Kendra Norman-Bellamy

Pretenses Cover
Death has a new legacy. . . Coco Nimburu . . .

Experience this electrifying personality in the pages of Keith Lee Johnson's sizzling new Phoenix Perry Novel!

Full of bone chilling detail from a master of suspense, Pretenses is impossible to put down!

Ruthless is the word that describes the engaging assassin you will love to hate in Pretenses. An affluent Supreme Court nominee and her husband are skillfully murdered several days before her confirmation hearing. The next day, another high-ranking member of Washington DC's elite circle is murdered and Special Agent Phoenix Perry is hand picked by the President to solve the mystery and to stop the bloodthirsty assassin. However, one simple fact complicates the cat and mouse tangles that ensueâ€"the assassin seems to know Phoenix's every move!

Reader Reviews

4 Star Rating
May 29, 2006
Good Book

Reviewer: Sejla

It was a page turner for me. It was a different book for me all the martial arts stuff, but I ended up liking it. Worth reading definitely.

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5 Star Rating
May 27, 2006
Very Good Book

Reviewer: Misstamg "Tam" from MD

I read this book in just a short while and I have to say I was very impressed at the author. This is my first novel by Mr. Johnson and it won't be my last. This book was written with great finesse. The plot and the chracters were a page turner from beginning to end. He was to the point and never left you feeling like "Can he please get on with the story". I give Mr. Johnson Cudos for this novel. I'm on line now looking for more from this author. Read the book and you won't be dissapointed.

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5 Star Rating
January 16, 2006
Mr. Johnson is a Genius

Reviewer: Lenora D. Brown from Compton, CA

This was a great book to read. I loved it. Keith Lee Johnson is an excellent storyteller. After reading "Fate's Redemption", I knew his next novel would be just great. The chapters were short and to the point, the characters were complex, and the storyline was exceptional. "Sugar and Spice" is the next novel on my list. My review coming soon.

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5 Star Rating
December 1, 2005
An Attention Getter

Reviewer: Ebony

This book is a must read. It is brilliantly written. I haven't found a book that grabs your attention right from the begining in a while, but all of Keith Lee Johnson's books get and keep your attention from beginning to end. You won't have to worry about losing interest at any point in the book. I love an author that can hold my interest from beginning until the end.

Also recommended:

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5 Star Rating
November 1, 2005
Loved It

Reviewer: Kimberly S. Seiwert from Wichita, KA

This was the first Keith Lee Johnson Novel I had read. It has not been the last. I couldn't stop reading it. Read it in 2 days . . . while at work. I highly recommend any and all of Keith's work to anyone with an imagination that needs fuel. I have also read 'Little Black Girl Lost' and couldn't put it down. I purchased Sugar and Spice and Fate's Redemtion and will be reading them right away. Keep writing Keith and I will keep reading and talking to others about your work.

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5 Star Rating
September 7, 2005
Keith Lee Johnson Strikes Again

Reviewer: Sam

When I started read this book I just knew that I wasn't going to be able to put it down. In fact I finished the book in three days it was that good. Keith Lee Johnson has done it again. Coco Niburu is one crazy little thing. When she killed Phoeinx's father and started playing games with her that was when she really got crazy. She was good at being an assassin. Perry was really good too. She catches on to things very quickly and she is always trying to dig deeper when nobody else was going to. She thought that she was no match for Coco but in the end she realized that if she only concentrated and put her anger aside she could take on Coco even though they both had the great skill of martial arts. Coco was always one step ahead of Perry but when Perry was one step ahead of her I was at the egde of my seat. To be honest I was at the edge of my seat for the whole book. Keep it up Mr. Johnson.

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5 Star Rating
June 12, 2005

Reviewer: Cocoa from Houston, TX

I enjoyed this book alot. It was different from other books we have been reading in our book club. Keith Lee Johnson in an awesome writer. The book kept me going and into the what's next of it.

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5 Star Rating
May 15, 2005
In a Word . . . Fab-U-Lous!!!

Reviewer: Dana Y. Bowles from West Chester, PA

Special Agent Phoenix Perry is one of the best that the Bureau has to offer. Trained in the martial arts from a very young age, she lived with her father in the Orient and is considered a Master. And Agent Perry is very busy these days; there's a serial rapist on the loose in D.C.. But even more of a priority are the high-profile murders that are also happening...and Phoenix suspects that a female ninja is working her way through a hit list. But who has hired her...and why? When the murderer strikes especially close to home, it becomes personal for Agent Perry...leading to a kung fu showdown that will only leave one woman standing.

Fast-paced, suspenseful and sexy, this is a first-rate tale that will leave readers literally on the edge of their seats.

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4 Star Rating
March 15, 2005
Two Sides of the Same Coin

Reviewer: Nardsbaby from Westside Chi-town, IL

I only opened Pretenses to pass time. We were all set to read Little Black Girl Lost, but someone was reading something else so while waiting and agonizing over a visit to the dentist I grabbed Pretenses and decided to see what Tee [T.C. Royal] was talking about. Yes I read her review and got interested...

There is a serial rapist in DC. Men are the victims and because they have refused to alert the authorities it's a little more than 2 years before anyone knows about The Rapist. So we meet Special Agent Phoenix. Phoenix is an FBI agent, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, and a grandmaster. As this case gets swept under the rug to a high profile case we meet...

Coco Nimburu, a deadly assassin, who fluently speaks a multitude of languages, and is also a master of Kung Fu. She also brings a new definition to being "a freak in the bed!" Coco has women asking unnecessary questions, where as the men always settle for the promise of deadly pleasure. Isn't that just like a man to be satisfied by the little head? BUT as Coco begins her journey she and special agent Phoenix cross paths. Is this destined or what?

So as all of the characters are in their perspective roles we learn that politics, money, and crime really do pay! I mean is there anyone who can't be bribed these days? As Special Agent Perry looses so much she begins to fear that maybe she's not the great master that she trained to be!

This is such a gripping, and intriguing story of betrayal. Keith does an excellent job not only telling a story but developing characters. I felt all of Phoenix's emotions and could even relate to Coco at times and I truly liked her profession and all! At least she was dubbed as NOTORIOUS not to mention she was helpful in more than one way!

I was warned to read Sugar & Spice first, and of course I didn't listen, but the team and I are going to read Little Black Girl Lost. Keith I get the title and I like that it wasn't sitting right out in the open for me. Mystery is back on track...

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5 Star Rating
March 15, 2005
Absolutely Awesome Read

Reviewer: Shelley H

Keith Lee Johnson has penned an exciting and suspenseful can't-put-down read. This would be a great book-to-film adaptation. Coco Nimburu is one of the most fascinating villains I've read in a long time. Wonderful job Keith!

Shelley Halima
Author of Azucar Moreno

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4 Star Rating
March 14, 2005
Nobody's Innocent

Reviewer: Ms Toni from Midwest - USA

The city of D.C. is being terrorized and preyed upon by its latest predator - the Rapist. This serial rapist is like no other - he's raping men. Most of his victims are too ashamed to report their rapes, making an already hard job harder for Special Agent Phoenix Perry as she attempts to track him down.

The murders of a prominent judge and her husband take precedence as Phoenix is reassigned to the case along with her best friend and fellow agent Kelly McPherson. As more victims die, its apparent that they are dealing with one killer. A skilled, crafty, and very dangerous killer like no other. A killer that will stop at nothing to get what she wants. A highly intelligent multilingual killer trained in the martial arts of the Orient. Has Special Agent Perry met her match? Will she be able to stop this ruthless mad woman before it's too late. It's kill or be killed.

All hail the new king of suspense/thrillers! Mr. Johnson did the thing in this prequel to 'Sugar and Spice.' His work is suspenseful and cutting edge. All though not intentional, I think releasing 'Sugar and Spice' first was marketing genius. After reading about a certain someone in that book, I just knew I had to read 'Pretenses' to see how it all began and went down. Job well done.

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4 Star Rating
March 13, 2005
Great Story

Reviewer: Lucy Lane from Fivingston, TX

Reminiscent of the TV show 24, Special Agent Phoenix Perry is having a very bad day and more. First there is a serial rapist running about raping men. He has been doing this for over 2 years - but no one knew as none of the victims reported the crime. As if this weren't enough for your average writer, enter Coco Nimburu, a trained Ninja, master of disguise, speaks a million languages, and a top notch hired assassin. Her only downfall appears to be that she is something of a sex addict. Phoenix, who is also a grandmastger of Shaolin Kung Fu, may have met her match.

There begins a gripping story of intrigue, betrayals, people who aren't who they appear to be . . . just about anything a reader of mystery and adventure would want. All rolled into one story.

I will admit that it took me a few pages to become accustomed to Mr. Johnson's writing style, but the story soon overcame any problems in that area. The author does a great job in telling a story and developing the main characters. I felt as if Phoenix was a friend and I even developed an understanding of Coco and liked her - except for the little matter of her choice of professions.

This is a good read by an author I know we will hear more and more about as time goes on. Give the book a try, it is worth it.

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5 Star Rating
January 25, 2005

Reviewer: Amy Rose-Mullholand from Bowling Green, OH

Do you like action, adventure, and romance all rolled into one? If so, PRETENSES is the book for you! Special Agent Phoenix Perry will grip your heart, as you follow her through a deadly tirade that the complex and psychopathic Cocoa Nimburu lays before her. Emotions run high as Special Agent Perry attempts to protect her family and bring justice and safety to the public.

PRETENSES is a well written, gripping thriller that everyone MUST read! Keith Lee Johnson is a talented author, that knows how to keep people turning the pages!

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5 Star Rating
January 25, 2005
Must Read

Reviewer: Lilblaqgyrl from SC

I read Pretenses in two days. This books kept me going and I just had to know what was going to happen next. This book is a real page turner. I passed it on to my mother and she has now passed it on. Once you get this book everyone is going to want to read it. I can't wait to read Little Black Girl Lost. The preview is on Keith Lee Johnson's website. Once you read that you will be buying that book too.

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5 Star Rating
January 7, 2005
Not Just Pretending to be Good

Reviewer: Michelle D. Mcgriff (Author) from Portland, OR

From the first pages of Pretenses, I was drawn into the story. I enjoyed the strength of the character Phoenix Perry, showing her as a topnotch law enforcement agent as well as a mother and wife was done with a smooth flair that I can see Mr. Johnson prides as his forte. The plot of the story is intersting, despite the fact the identity of the killer is revealed early on. I found it to be out of the ordinary. You would think that this would be where the twist lied . . . in finding out the true identity of of the killer . . . to which I thought was going to turn out to be like related to the protagonist, Phoenix Perry, or something like that.

The plot was very straight forward however, yet with subplots, such as the conflict between good and evi, the story is brought to full intensity. The dialog was a little dry for me however but it didn't take away from the story . . . and I have to realize they were law enforcement and therefore getting the `facts out' is often more important than snappy or impish dialog.

There were a couple of parts I was actually holding my breath on and wondering how Mr. Johnson was going to pull off the `get around' but he did it and whew...was I glad.

I highly recommend Pretenses for a club read. It didn't drag.


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5 Star Rating
November 30, 2004
A Villan You Love to Hate

Reviewer: S. Hudson from Tucker, GA

Whew! I'm going to write something I normally don't write in a published review and proclaim Pretenses as one of the best books I've read in 2004. Don't take my recommendation lightly. I don't normally extol the virtues of books to this extent, but prior to reading Pretenses, there wasn't a need. Now that I have, I think if you read the book, you'll most likely feel the same way.

Meet Coco Nimburo, a deadly hired assassin, who is honest to a fault, but as lethal as a ticking time bomb. Crossing paths with Coco is like writing a blank check for which your life is the surety of the bond. Murders are being committed in our nation's capital and FBI Special Agent Phoenix Perry has been assigned, as well as recommended, by the President to get to the bottom of the assassinations. Phoenix and Coco will cross paths.

Nothing is average about Coco. She's skilled in the martial arts and studied with the best Eastern culture has to offer. She's fluent in several languages, a master of disguise, well disciplined and patient. She's highly skilled in the art of acupuncture. She's also a nymphomaniac. A loner by nature, her resume is top notch. Phoenix, Coco's natural nemesis, is equally as gifted in the arts, they are like yin and yang.

On top of the murders there is a serial rapist with some 67 male victims, which must be dealt with. Phoenix and her partner have this series of crimes in the back of their mind too. Could the two possibly be connected? As these two government agents fall into the abyss of high profile murders, and a savage rapist, Coco set her sights on them. Phoenix knows who their perpetrator is but she's elusive and they can't seem catch her.

The research the author puts forth and dedication to his craft shows brightly. The reader will be so totally engrossed in the story, it will be difficult to put down. This is hardly the book to sit down and pick up later. I caution you against reading this book when you have an impending important appointment - you just might miss it. If Keith Lee Johnson doesn't hook you by page 33, this genre isn't for you.

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4 Star Rating
October 22, 2004

Reviewer: A. Wilkins from KA

A very good book that is well written. The suspense and action in the plot keeps you turning the page. The added twist is very surprising and gratifying. A very good book to read.

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5 Star Rating
October 19, 2004
Definitely a Page Turner

Reviewer: Deenice from Brooklyn, NY

From the moment I started reading I couldn't put the book down. I enjoyed the Martial art techniques, the suspense, and of course the love scenes. There was just so much going on.

I really recommend this book to all mystery lovers out there.

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5 Star Rating
October 01, 2004
A Mystery with Class

Reviewer: Locksie (ARC Book Club) from Coram, NY

"Pretenses" has Special agent Phoenix Perry in search for a serial rapist who specializes in pursuing men, but there is also an assassin out there killing goverment officials and anyone who gets in the way. Coco Nimburu is a homicidal nymphomaniac who has a special treat for the men she kills. A master of disguise and skilled in martial arts, Coco plays cat and mouse with Phoenix and the FBI. It then becomes personal for Phoenix who suffers a loss at the hands of Coco.

The big question is why? You will enjoy this novel filled with lots of corruption and "mystery". At the end you will be surprised at who the rapist is and why Coco is killing so many people. Well done Keith I like your writing style, looking forward to the online chat with you.

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5 Star Rating
September 24, 2004
Loved Every Page!!

Reviewer: Sherri Howard from Vallejo, CA

I loved the book from beginning to the very end. It hit me from page one from the killings, to the loving relationships and kept my eyes open all night long till the end of the book. You have to read the Pretense first and then Sugar & Spice and trust me when I tell you that it is everything but Nice!! The twins will have your mind doing a "did I miss something" at the end and your going to want to go back to the beginning and try to see for yourself just what happen.

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4 Star Rating
September 19, 2004
Lightning-Paced Thriller

Reviewer: Andrena G. Dancer from Upland, CA

This prequel to SUGAR AND SPICE, which was released in 2003, is another fast-paced murder mystery that centers on FBI agent and martial arts expert Phoenix Perry. Reminiscent of the writing style of James Patterson, Keith Lee Johnson writes short chapters that are packed with excitement and intrigue. The characters are fully developed and sharply focused, the dialogue is crisp and believable, and the plot is projected with such lightning speed that it is difficult to close the book until the last page is turned. In PRETENSES, the author also reveals an infrequently explored aspect of African-American history that adds an unexpected element to the villain's evil motivation for setting loose a mysterious and powerful serial killer, who challenges Phoenix to the core of her intellect and fighting spirit, causing the agent to suspect a mole in the fabric of her law enforcement organization. The final showdown between Phoenix and her nemesis is chilling and thrill-packed, in spite of the advance knowledge of the outcome provided by a prior reading of SUGAR AND SPICE. In fact, the reading of both novels would have been enhanced if the author had released PRETENSES first, and it would be interesting to learn his rationale for releasing the thrillers in reverse order.

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5 Star Rating
September 7, 2004
Murder, Deception, And Betrayal

Reviewer: The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers from

Though I'm an avid reader, it isn't often that I will pick up the same book more than once. I convince myself that it's pointless to do so since I already know what's going to happen. In spite of this, PRETENSES kept calling me to take a second look and I was just as excited reading it the second time as I was the first time almost two years ago -- before it was even published. There is no doubt in my mind that Keith Lee Johnson's writing will capture even the pickiest reader as he takes one on a literary joy-ride with FBI Special Agent Phoenix Perry and her nemesis Coco Nimbura, a ruthless assassin who gives "pleasure in death" a new meaning when taking out her targets.

When a black Supreme Court nominee and her husband are killed in their homes, the President of the United States personally assigns Phoenix to the high-profile case as a way of retaliating against the killer. All the while, Coco is one step ahead of the FBI and killing without abandon. Once she finds out that Phoenix is a worthy adversary, she touches as closely as possible to Phoenix's life. Coco is convinced that Phoenix is the one person who can grant her her final wish before she goes out of the business. As the case and the killings continue, Phoenix finds out that Coco is more like her than she cares to admit.

PRETENSES is a novel that demands to be on the big screen. Keith Lee Johnson has worked his magic in this wonderfully written suspense thriller. PRETENSES is packed with multi-layered and suspenseful plots that will have readers thirsty for more. The title states it all, as raw truths are revealed through murder, deception, and betrayal. This is a must read that I'd recommend (and read over) time and time again.

Date Reviewed: June 28, 2004
Reviewed by Tee C. Royal
of The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers

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5 Star Rating
August 19, 2004
Book Of The Year

Reviewer: Englishruler "ARC Bookclub" from Bronx, NY

Pretenses draws you in from the first page and forces you to keep turning from one page to the next. Take a journey with FBI agent Phoenix Perry as she tracks down the most ruthless serial killer she has ever encountered. Coco Nimburu is not your average hitman. SHE is a skilled martial artist and master of disguise who speaks over nine languages. You will enjoy trying to figure out who hired Coco and why as she takes out government officials, FBI agents and anyone who stands in her way. As if that's not enough to keep Phoenix busy, there's also a rapist who loves preying on innocent MEN. Keith Lee Johnson is truly a talented writer who has the art of story telling down to science. Everything the book has to offer, from the storyline to the charactars and the conclusion is top of the line. Pretenses sits on my bookshelf right next to Sugar & Spice (sequel to Pretenses) and I have left a space for Fates Redemption as I anticipate the 2005 release.

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5 Star Rating
August 19, 2004
He Just Gets Better!!!

Reviewer: Ms. Book (ARC Book Club) - "goodpeoples" - USA

Mr. Johnson has written a book that you have NEVER read before. His content, theme and execution of this novel is one of the best I have EVER read! The story will capture your attention from cover to cover. I especially liked the format in which the book was written. Get this book people; it'll be one of the best you have ever clubs...HURRY!!

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5 Star Rating
August 18, 2004
Another Excellent Read From KLJ

Reviewer: Naima E. Curtis from Scottsdale, AZ

Pretenses was such an explosive rollercoaster ride with several twists and turns throughout. The chapters moved quickly and had such interesting changes in the settings and characters. It is a book that u can not put down until it is finished.

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5 Star Rating
August 5, 2004
Let The Games Begin

Reviewer: Dawn R Reeves "tamardi" from Harrisburg, PA

When Coco Nimburu begins a killing spree in and around the Washington D.C. metro area and beyond, FBI agent Phoenix Perry is on the case. Assigned by the President of the United States, Phoenix's career is on the line and her loved ones are in danger. However, Coco is always one or two steps ahead of Phoenix. Pretenses by Keith Lee Johnson is the prequel to Sugar & Spice which for me left some unanswered questions; with Pretenses those questions are answered.

A Supreme Court nominee and her husband are murdered while a serial rapist of men is on the loose. Coco is a hired assassin, skilled in martial arts, who is as aloof as she is deadly. Phoenix is her nemesis, which only provokes Coco to lure her to a duel. Coco is a character you will despise but at the same time empathize with; her moral code is skewed at best. Coco's employer will surprise you and the reasoning behind the killings will shock you even more.

The dialogue between the characters is engaging; the attention to detail and imagery is vivid. Johnson has penned a suspenseful, inviting and unpredictable novel with all of the elements of surprise.

Reviewed by Dawn R. Reeves
APOOO BookClub

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5 Star Rating
August 2, 2004

Reviewer: Stephanie Johnson "Steph"

"Mind boggling, a twist of your emotions," Keith Lee Johnson's Pretenses will have you turning the pages while the pots are burning in dire need to know what Coco Numburu will do next. Probably every man's fantasy, Coco Nimburu torments Phoenix Perry and her family while murdering her victims. Unfortunately the women don't get it as good as the men but no doubt Pretenses is a turn on all the way through.

(Author of She's Got Issues,

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5 Star Rating
July 27, 2004
Exciting And Exhilarating!!!

Reviewer: I. J. Jenkins from Lavergne, TN

Keith Lee Johnson's Pretenses will have you holding your breath from page one until the end. The characters Keith created for this amazing who done it, is gripping and exciting. Phoenix Perry is a woman you can't help but give props too. While she was a loving wife and mother, you wouldn't want to go up against her one on one. As far as her nemisis, CoCo...well, she is off da hook!! This is a must read!!

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5 Star Rating
July 15, 2004
Keith Maintained My Interest

Reviewer: Cydney Rax from Houston, TX

What do you get when you read a story that mixes a ruthless, female psychotic assassin, with a conscientious and tough female FBI agent that's hot on the assassin's trail regardless of the life-threatening risks?

FBI Agent Phoenix Perry is calm, smart, loves her family, and is a Grand Master in Shaolin Kung Fu. Coco, the unconscionable predator, is the one Phoenix must nab, if only she can keep up with this horny killer that knows Phoenix's every move.From the first page, the book simply kidnaps you; there's continuous action, brutal eye-popping scenes, and spicy dialogue sprinkled with humor.

For me, Pretenses was a great read because (1) it was a change of pace for me because I am accustomed to reading lots of relationship novels, and (2) the author's writing style is compelling. Keith gives you just enough detail to envision the scene without going overboard.

I loved the various settings of the novel, including DC, St. Thomas, and New York. Keith just has a wonderful style that draws you in. I look forward to reading more of his works. Pretenses is highly recommended.

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5 Star Rating
July 3, 2004

Reviewer: Phill from NJ

Keith Lee Johnson's Pretenses is a gripping story. Full of short chapters, and twist and turns at every break. A hero in Phoenix Perry you'll root for. And, interestingly, a complex villain in Coco Nimburu that you'll like as well. KLJ is on his way to carving a niche in AF-AM contemporary thrillers. He'll be a household name if he continues to churn out these multi-layered, thinking man's gems. Kudos.

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5 Star Rating
June 29, 2004
Move Aside James Patterson...

Reviewer: Ashanti from Dallas, TX

Keith does an EXCELLENT job in creating a story so real so you taste the anticipation in the air. Pretenses is a gripping tale of an AA female FBI agent on the hunt for a very dangerous, and mysterious, serial killer. This book is a true page turner that will have you missing sleep to get to the end of the book. I highly recommend this book.

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5 Star Rating
June 28, 2004
A Masterpiece In Mystery & Suspense!

Reviewer: Meta Washington,

Cleverly written, intelligent read, the things that happened in this book try as I might . . . I never saw them coming. The sequel Sugar & Spice is equally as satisfying!

Also recommended:

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5 Star Rating
April 01, 2004

Reviewer: TheLibraryLady

I read this one in two is Number One on my 'Hot Books to Read' list!

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5 Star Rating
March 01, 2004
Wonderful Fast Paced Book

Reviewer: Rae-Evon

All of the characters will hold your interest. This was very well written and the reasoning behind the plot was very well put together. I like the fact that there were two story lines going at the same time. It made it very hard to put this book down. Can't wait to see what Mr. Johnson comes up with next.

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