Tag Archives: serial killer

Review: Her Final Breath by Robert Dugoni

4 Stars

This is book two in the Tracy Crosswhite Series.  While you will still enjoy reading this book by itself, you will definitely understand the back-story and get more out of the book itself if you read the previous book My Sister’s Grave.

Tracy is back in Seattle after finally solving the mystery surrounding the murder of her sister two decades earlier.  She comes back to a new killer who the media has dubbed The Cowboy.  He’s killing women in a manner that’s eerily familiar to Tracy.  The women are all hog-tied and die by strangulation.  Is this a copycat or did the wrong person end up behind bars 10 years ago?  A case that involved her captain, Johnny Nolasco and one that he would prefer to keep buried.  Just to add more intrigue, it seems that someone has it out for Tracy after leaving a noose behind at the shooting range for her to find.  Is it the Cowboy or is someone else targeting Tracy?

This is another fairly solid police procedural.  There is drama between Tracy and her captain that gives some additional tension.  He’s a slime ball who has had it out for Tracy ever since they were in the police academy.  The man can definitely carry a grudge.  Their negative chemistry was really good.  He second-guesses every move she makes and he undermines her at every turn through some pretty under-handed methods.  Ever wonder how the media got some of their juiciest tidbits?

The Cowboy was definitely an interesting serial killer.  I was definitely surprised to see who the killer ended up being.  I did enjoy how the case was solved.  I really didn’t see it coming.  It was just one small detail.  One vigilant police officer.  And that’s all it takes sometimes.  I really did enjoy the interaction that Tracy had with the killer in the end.  And I would have paid good money to see the look on her captain’s face.

I did not enjoy the stalker angle.  I know that it ties in the first and second book.  But I just didn’t think that it fit with the rest of the story.  It was nice to see Dan is still in the picture and their interaction and chemistry is still there.  They make a really great team.  I hope that they’ll continue to be able to team up together in the future, because this is certainly not the end for Tracy Crosswhite.

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Shame by Alan Russell

2 Stars

Caleb Parker is trying to run away from his past and get out from under the shadow of his father.  A father who happened to be a prolific serial killer with the moniker of Shame.  He had branded his victims by carving the word Shame into their bodies.  Years after his death sentence was carried out, a new string of murders are eerily similar to those of Shame.  Caleb quickly becomes the prime suspect in these murders when police learn who he is and his proximity to the victims.

Caleb forges an unlikely alliance with Elizabeth Line, a writer who published his father’s story after being his only surviving victim.  As the body count increases, they find themselves playing a game of cat and mouse with the killer.  They know that the killer is out to get one of them, but the question is who?  As the killer escalates and comes ever closer to them, they know that their time is short.

The premise was great.  Child of a serial killer being accused of following in his father’s footsteps.  And the surviving victim being thrown back into the mix wondering if someone is trying to finish the job.  That was tantalizing enough to draw me in and made me want to find out more, to see how it would pan out.  But sadly, for me, that didn’t happen.  What started out promising, ended with a whimper.

None of the characters are convincing.  It’s hard to empathize with either Caleb or Elizabeth.  The shocking discoveries aren’t so shocking.  The ultimate reveal was an absolute let down.  The clues are given to it way in advance, so there’s no shock value, there’s no real surprise.  By the end, I just didn’t care enough anymore.  The flipping back and forth between multiple points of view and going from the present to the past was jarring and really didn’t lend anything to the story.  I think it could have been a much stronger story if it was told from the point of view of one character instead of many.

This one just wasn’t for me.  It is a quick read and the premise is strong.  But the story just didn’t live up to what I think it could have been.  It’s a shame…

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Review: Pretty Little Things by Jillianne Hoffman

4 Stars

Bobby Dees, an investigator who heads up the Crimes Against Children squad in Miami, is called in to investigate a possible endangered runaway.  Lainey Emerson is missing.  She’s the thirteen year old middle child of a family who has had their share of run-ins with the police already.  Her older sister has a history of running away and she’s also had problems with substance abuse.  Her mother works too much and her step-father favors his own child over another man’s problem, Lainey and her sister.  Lainey didn’t come home one Friday night after saying she was going to a movie with a friend.  She wasn’t reported missing for two days and the local police and even her family are writing her off as a runaway, but they call in Special Agent Dees anyway just to make sure they cover all the bases and cover their own asses in the process.

Special Agent Dees has been the savior of many missing children.  Bringing them home when all hope seems lost.  But the one child he couldn’t bring home was his own daughter.  Now as it nears the anniversary of her disappearance, another missing child is found dead.  Her death and location depicted by the killer after he sent a painting to to show the police, especially Bobby Dees, what he’s done.

This book is full of twists and turns.  I wasn’t expecting many of the things that happened.  The author kept me on my toes and always guessing.  I think that some may be able to untangle the web and figure out who the killer is or there may be others, like me, that just went along for the ride and had a blast with this mystery.

This one won’t be for everyone, it is about missing children and violence against young people.  That’s not everyone’s cup of tea and while the violence isn’t overly descriptive, your imagination can run with it and figure it out.  Those of us with children can find this an uncomfortable position to be in when we’re imagining this happening to our own daughters.  Definitely a solid mystery and suspense novel worthy of taking a chance.

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Review: Retribution by Jillianne Hoffman

3 Stars

C.J. Townsend is a formidable Florida prosecutor.  She’s known for keeping her cool even in the most horrific of cases.  The serial killer known as Cupid has just been caught and the case has landed in her lap.  This sadistic killer has taken the lives of at least 11 women in the most horrific manner.  He has removed their hearts and left them posed, ready to be discovered.  And now he has been caught in the most mundane of manners, a routine traffic stop.  One that leads the officer to ask to search his vehicle and ultimately find one of the victims in the trunk.  This looks like a pretty open and shut case.  But looks can be deceiving.

There are quite a few twists and turns in this book.  You think you know who the bad guys are only to be left with your jaw hanging.  You empathize with C.J. and you want to root for her, even when some of the things she’s doing aren’t quite ethical.  The accused is reprehensible and disgusting but wrapped up in a nice looking package, someone you least likely find standing trial for his life.  In the beginning you almost feel bad for him as it seems like he’s being railroaded.  But then his true colors start to shine through and you can’t help but want to strap him down to the electric chair and flip the switch yourself.

The utter depravity of the murders was quite shocking.  I’m somewhat used to graphic violence, but the descriptions of what was done was a bit much even for me.  It wasn’t really over the top, but I’ve never been a fan of blood and gore.  I was pretty creeped out by the medical examiner too.  He just seemed really, really creepy.

I wanted more from C.J. and I was somewhat disappointed in the romantic side of the story.  It didn’t really feel like it fit.  Especially in the middle of the trial against a serial killer between the prosecutor and the lead detective on the task force.  And as much as you really want to like and empathize with C.J., she got on my nerves.  She’s criticizing the actions of the defense attorney while she’s breaking not only ethics but probably a law or two.  It’s hard to get behind a hypocrite.

I did enjoy the book and if you’re looking for a crime novel with a pretty solid plot and some really good twists and turns and some pretty gruesome murders, you won’t go wrong here.  I’ll probably read a few of the authors other books too.

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Review: In Dark Places by Michael Prescott

3 Stars

In Dark Places is a pretty decent thriller about a psychiatrist who is on the verge of having technology that may finally be key in helping criminals who were victim of past violence to break the cycle and keep themselves out of prison and be productive members of society.  Her research brings her to Los Angeles where she has been given permission to try her treatment on a serial killer, Justin Gray.  A man who killed 5 teen-aged girls before being caught.  Dr. Robin Cameron wants to see if she can help Justin and maybe even cure him.  She’s also asked to take on a police officer as a test subject, a man suffering from what seems to be PTSD after being involved in a shooting where he took the life of another man.

The characters are fairly unsympathetic and for the most part, difficult to relate to.  You know that there’s something not quite right when you start to root for the convicted serial killer.  There were several times where I just wanted to smack Dr. Cameron upside the head and call her a naive idiot.  It’s okay to have an optimistic outlook and to believe in your research, but when all signs point in one direction and you’re stubbornly going the other way?  That’s just looking for trouble.

Some of the other characters have absolutely no redeeming qualities and others just seemed to be thrown in as an afterthought and lent nothing to the story itself.  There were also points where the point of view got lost, it reached a point where it was nearly impossible to figure out who was doing the talking.  But…

The story is fast paced and there are plenty of twists and turns throughout the book.  I didn’t see many of the twists that came about at all.  So definitely a thumbs up in that regard.  Too many suspense novels are formulaic to the point where you can guess what’s going to happen and who is going to do it.  I was surprised several times through the story with where the story arc went.  If you’re looking for a decent suspense novel with good twists, pick this one up.

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