Friday, August 22, 2008

Left To Die in a Horrifying Way

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


Kailana said...

Wait until March? That's horrible! I think if there are so many loose ends the next book should come out faster.

Stephanie said...

You know, I just went back and checked my book. That's a big Typo on my part. It's not coming out till AUGUST of 2009!

Now, one storyline DID end nicely. And maybe it's just me. I was expecting this book to actually END. And it didn't. I don't like to know too much about a book before I read it. But it would have been nice to know....that this isn't just a series about the detecives involved, but the storyline as a whole.

Again.....maybe it's just me.

Iliana said...

I don't know that I'd like that kind of ending either but at least the book was a page-turner!

I'll have to check out one of her books - I do like a good suspense book :)

Carl V. said...

I don't like being suckered in, even for series that I like. Sorry you didn't know that it was so opened ended up front. Sounds like quite the page-turner though so I'm glad you were able to at least enjoy it up until the disappointment at the end. And August 2009!?!? Definitely think you need to put a word in with the publisher to see if you can get an ARC of the next book as soon as it comes out! :)

____Maggie said...

OT - I was wondering if you finished the Southern Reading Challenge? The wrap up post is here. I'll be drawing for some free autographed books soon from the Mister Linky!

samantha.1020 said...

I'm interested in checking this one out. Thanks for the review!

Ladytink_534 said...

Have you seen the book trailers for this? Creepy!!! I haven’t read anything by Lisa Jackson before but I have four of her books that I’ve bought second-handed.

Lenore said...

Sounds spooky - a good winter read while cuddled up with blankets and hot cocoa!

Literary Feline said...

I am glad you warned me about the ending, Stephanie! If I know up front that I'll be wishing I had the next book right away to see what happens, I'll most likely wait until the next book is out before reading it. A year is a long time and memories begin to fade as you turn to other books in between, especially when reading a new series.

The book does sound good just the same. I am glad you enjoyed it. Great review!

Stephanie said...

Even with the sneak-attack ending, that is a total cliff-hanger, I still gave the story a well-deserved 4 stars. It really was a good story. Fast-paced, thrilling and enjoyable. I just felt kind of sucker-punched in the end.