Friday, August 22, 2008
In the last year or so I have come to find out there are a few benefits to having a "Book Blog", especially if you are a bibliophile like me. One of those benefits is the chance to read books provided to you by publishers and/or authors. I was contacted about a month ago by Pump Up Your Book's Promotions, Authors on Tour looking to promote Lisa Jackson's newest novel, Left to Die (484 pgs, Zebra 2008). Since I haven't read anything by Jackson before, I thought this would be a great opportunity to try something new.
"He's going to kill you. Right here in the middle of this snow-covered, God-forsaken valley, he's going to kill you! Fight, Wendy, Fight!"
And so our story starts off with a bang! In the sparsely populated area of the Bitterroot Mountains in Pinewood County, Montana, a serial killer is on the loose. 4 bodies of missing woman have been found tied naked to trees and left to freeze to death in the bitter winter snow, with a star carved into the tree over their heads and letters added to a cryptic note with each added victim. Not one of them have a thing in common, and none are from the area. All have been victims of car "accidents", that have left them injured but cared for, at least until they found themselves tethered to a tree. But the accidents were forced by a gunshot to a tire, not a random accident. And the killer is meticulous in efforts to create the perfect crimes.
For Detectives Selena Alvarez and Regan Piscoli, this case has turned into a nightmare. With each additional body, the population of Pine County is getting more and more paranoid, and the pressure to crack this case is getting to be unbearable. Alvarez is a straight-laced, newcomer to the area, and she keeps herself and her past sheltered from everyone. Piscoli is a single-mother of teens that flys by the seat of her pants and is heading for trouble by seeing the latest drifter in town.
When Jillian Rivers receives a package in the mail with pictures of a man that looks a lot like her husband that supposedly died in an accident 10 years before, she initially freaks out. When Aaron died, he left her in a bad way. Apparently he had bilked a lot of people of their life savings in a pyramid scheme, and people were pointing fingers at Jillian. Postmarked Mizzouli, Montana, home of her ex-husband Mason, the letter was cryptic. Jillian immediately sets out for Montana and a showdown with Mason, only to be involved in a car "accident" along the way. When she wakes up, she is in the cabin of loner Zane MacGregor and she is terrified for her life. Having read about the serial killings, she has no idea if she is in danger or if she is being "saved" from a fate almost worse than death.
Left to Die is a first-rate thriller, that is action-packed from page one. There are a lot of characters in this book, and lot of different story lines. One would think that might muddy the waters, so to speak. But Jackson makes it work. Is Jillian the victim of the "Star-Crossed" Killer, or is her accident the work of a copycat, since she seemed to be specifically targeted?? Is Zane MacGregor a good guy, or the killer himself? And what about the secrets that both Alvarez and Piscoli keeping? How do they relate to the killer and/or killers?
My one major complaint about this book is that it is basically a segway for Book number 2. Now, I'm usually all about the series. But this book is so completely open-ended that I was a bit perturbed. I expected a little more to be tied up by the time I closed the book. And it wasn't. I almost feel like I was suckered into having to read another book (or two). But that doesn't mean I was disappointed in the content. The storyline was a real page-turner, and I found myself mesmerized by the incredible detail of the terrain and the killer's methodology. Lisa Jackson is a talented author that will leave you wanting more. I guess I just have to wait until NEXT August to get some answers. 4/5