Friday, July 31, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Chosen to Die by Lisa Jackson

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Chosen to Die by Lisa Jackson. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Chosen to Die by Lisa Jackson

A Regan Pescoli and Selena Alvarez Mystery

Zebra (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-4201-0277-X (142010277X)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4201-0277-2 (9781420102772)
Publication Date: July 2009
List Price: $7.99

Review: Montana detectives Regan Pescoli and Selena Alvarez search for a serial killer during the worst winter blizzard Pinewood County has experienced in years in Chosen To Die, the second thriller in this series by Lisa Jackson.

A web has been skillfully woven by a serial killer in the old silver mining town of Grizzly Falls. The killer chooses a woman as his target using their initials as a guide. The woman is always alone in her car. Most of the time he shoots out a tire causing the woman to drive off the road. He then drives by, stops, and offers his assistance. Unfortunately, the car has broken down in an area when there is no cell phone access. He takes her to his nearby home until someone can be notified to come and repair or tow the automobile. When he decides his captive should die, he takes her nude body to the forest in the Bitterroot Mountains, gags her, ties her to the tree, attaches a note with the woman’s initials above her head, and leaves her there. For Regan and Selena the case has more questions than answers. How does he know a woman with just the initials he needs will be on that particular stretch of the road at that particular time? What do the initials stand for? Is this some kind of a clue? When Regan herself comes up missing, Selena fears that she has become one of his victims, especially when her car is later found off the road, down in a gulley, and a hole blown in her tire.

But their case is about to get even more complicated. A wealthy man arrives unexpectedly to his winter home in the area and this same killer murders him with a single shotgun shot to the chest. How can the Sheriff’s Department reconcile the womens’ murders with this new case – other than the bullet that killed the man came from the same shotgun that blew out the women’s tires.

Chosen To Die is a thrilling mystery, the isolated setting adding to the suspense generated by the plot. The reason for the killer taking Regan also contributes to the puzzle: his previous victims had been trusting, relatively helpless women. Why choose Regan, a detective who would almost certainly fight back with everything she had? The only serious flaw in the book is with its length; Regan and Selena are compelling, well drawn characters that are interesting to follow. But there are other characters and side stories that add little to the plot and ultimately detract from the suspense of the detectives' investigation. It would seem these could easily have been edited out, allowing for better continuity and tighter pacing.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Chosen to Die and to Joan Schulhafer Publishing and Media Consulting for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): He'll Choose Them … Detective Regan Pescoli has worked the “Star Crossed Killer” case for months, never imagining she’d be captured by the madman she’s been hunting. Regan knows exactly what he’s capable of—the way he leaves his victims to freeze to death, terrified and alone. And avoiding the same fate will take every drop of her courage and cunning.

Abduct Them … Regan Pescoli is unlike any woman Nate Santana has met before. But now she’s missing, and Nate knows something is dangerously wrong. The only person who can help him find his lover is Detective Selena Alvarez, Regan’s partner. As Selena digs deeper into the Star-Crossed Killer case and the body count rises, the truth about Regan’s disappearance becomes chillingly clear.

And Kill Them … In the desolate Montana woods, evil is lurking. And with time running out, the only way to save Regan will be to get inside a killer’s twisted mind and unravel a shocking message that is being revealed, one body at a time …

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