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The Cipher

The Cipher
Isabella Maldonado By (author)
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Amazon/Brilliance Publishing

Limited ***

5.5 X 8.2 in
336 pg

FICTION / Mystery & Detective / Police Procedural
FICTION / Thrillers / Crime
FICTION / Thrillers / Suspense


An Amazon Charts bestseller.

To a cunning serial killer, she was the one that got away. Until now…

FBI Special Agent Nina Guerrera escaped a serial killer’s trap at sixteen. Years later, when she’s jumped in a Virginia park, a video of the attack goes viral. Legions of new fans are not the only ones impressed with her fighting skills. The man who abducted her eleven years ago is watching. Determined to reclaim his lost prize, he commits a grisly murder designed to pull her into the investigation…but his games are just beginning. And he’s using the internet to invite the public to play along.

His coded riddles may have made him a depraved social media superstar—an enigmatic cyber-ghost dubbed “the Cipher”—but to Nina he’s a monster who preys on the vulnerable. Partnered with the FBI’s preeminent mind hunter, Dr. Jeffrey Wade, who is haunted by his own past, Nina tracks the predator across the country. Clue by clue, victim by victim, Nina races to stop a deadly killer while the world watches.


An Amazon Best Book of the Month: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

“The survivor of a vicious crime confronts her fears in a hunt for a serial killer…forensic analysis, violent action, and a tough heroine who stands up to the last man on earth she wants to see again.” Kirkus Reviews

“[In] this riveting series launch from Maldonado…the frequent plot twists will keep readers guessing to the end, and Maldonado draws on her 22 years in law enforcement to add realism. Determined to overcome her painful past, the admirable Nina has enough depth to sustain a long-running series.” Publishers Weekly

The Cipher by Isabella Maldonado is a nail-biting race against time.” POPSUGAR

“Maldonado does a superb job of depicting a woman who’s made a strength out of trauma, and an even better job at showing how a monster could use the internet to prey on the vulnerable. Maldonado spent 22 years in law enforcement and her experience shines through in The Cipher.” The Amazon Book Review

“A heart-pounding novel from page one, The Cipher checks all the boxes for a top-notch thriller: sharp plotting, big stakes, and characters—good and bad and everywhere in between—that are so richly drawn you’ll swear you’ve met them. I read this in one sitting and I guarantee you will too. Oh, another promise: You’ll absolutely love the Warrior Girl!” —Jeffery Deaver, New York Times bestselling author

“Wow! A riveting tale in the hands of a superb storyteller.” —J.A. Jance, New York Times bestselling author

“Intense, harrowing, and instantly addictive, The Cipher took my breath away. Isabella Maldonado has created an unforgettable heroine in Nina Guerrera, a dedicated FBI agent and trauma survivor with unique insight into the mind of a predator. This riveting story is everything a thriller should be.” —Hilary Davidson, Washington Post bestselling author

Previous Praise for Isabella Maldonado

“Maldonado’s a writer to watch, and she showcases her own extensive law enforcement background in this tightly plotted police procedural.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Maldonado, a former law enforcement officer, brings her experience and expertise to this gripping police procedural. With its gritty heroine, this action-packed mystery will attract readers who enjoy crime novels about the war on drugs.” Library Journal

“Phoenix may be burning, but Maldonado’s star is rising. Gritty and gripping.” —J. A. Jance, New York Times bestselling author

“Maldonado’s writing always bristles with urgency and authority.” Mystery Scene Magazine

“Delivers a brilliant and complicated heroine, accented by a take-no-prisoners plot…It’s spicy, smart, and entertaining, definitely worth your time.” —Steve Berry, author of The Lost Order

“A highly entertaining police procedural…Maldonado rises to her written challenge to entertain, enthrall, and engage readers in this high-octane thriller.” Suspense Magazine

“A tense thriller with a strong sense of place and an insider’s look at some of the most dangerous work in law enforcement.” —Jan Burke, New York Times bestselling author

“The Phoenix sun isn’t the only thing burning in this thrilling debut, and I look forward to more.” —Shannon Baker, bestselling author of the Kate Fox mystery series

“An ex-narc leads a war against a powerful crime family. The payoff is satisfying.” Kirkus Reviews

“If you’re in the mood for a nonstop exposé of every fear you’ve ever had about cartel crime, Veranda Cruz is the woman to follow.” Kirkus Reviews

“Finally! A kick-ass female protagonist and an author who knows firsthand the world she writes about. The combination makes for an explosive read that grabs you from page one and doesn’t let go.” —Alex Kava, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Lost Creed

“Red alert to all readers of police procedurals with a strong thriller bent: Isabella Maldonado’s Death Blow delivers nonstop action with substance, grit, and surprises.” —Lisa Preston, author of The Clincher

“Gritty, raw, and realistic, Isabella Maldonado’s Death Blow is the real deal.” —Bruce Robert Coffin, bestselling author of the Detective Byron mystery series

“A gritty, gut wrenching, page-turning thriller featuring a woman cop bent on bringing down a twisted cartel leader for reasons of her own, Death Blow grabs you from the first jaw-dropping scene to the last, and Maldonado’s stellar writing weaves it all together.” —Jamie Freveletti, internationally bestselling author of Blood Run

Author Bio

Award-winning author Isabella Maldonado wore a gun and badge in real life before writing crime fiction. A graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico and the first Latina in her department to attain the rank of captain, she served as a patrol officer, hostage negotiator, spokesperson, recruit instructor, patrol supervisor, gang council coordinator, and district station commander. Her final assignment was as the commander of the Special Investigations and Forensics Division before retiring after twenty-two years on the force. Ms. Maldonado is a member of the FBI National Academy Associates, Fairfax County Police Association, International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, International Society of Latino Authors, and Sisters in Crime, where she served as president of the Phoenix Metro Chapter in 2015 and sat on the board until 2019. The author of the Detective Cruz series, she lives in the Phoenix area with her family. For more information, visit