Category Archives: Lisa Jackson
Rating: 4 WaterTowers (Scary place to go to school)
“Without Mercy” is an ARC sent to me by Lisa Jackson. It was due in stores March 30, 2010.
Jules Farentino is haunted by nightmares of the day her father was murdered. Although the dreams change a bit each time, she is always the one holding the bloody knife, watching her father slip away in a pool of blood. Did she kill him? She does not really know.
Suffering from debilitating migraines (possibly caused by these nightmares), Jules has lost her teaching job and is now a waitress.
Jules’s step sister, Shay Stillman, has recently gotten herself in a heap of trouble with the law and was assigned by the judge to attend Blue Rock Academy in the Southern Oregon mountains.
Blue Rock Academy is run by Reverend Lynch and is a place where God and a firm hand turn around wayward teenagers (of mostly rich parents). At Blue Rock are a handful of teachers (with interesting backgrounds) and about 80 students. The setting is idyllic. Surrounded by mountains with a lake and isolated from civilization, Blue Rock is the perfect place for…..MURDER.
As soon as Shay arrives she starts the effort to leave. Her new roommate, Nona, is a bit cold to her. She tells Shay that she has a lover…but does not say his name.
Shay sneaks access to a telephone and calls Jules asking her to get her out. Jules, in the meantime, has been checking up on Blue Rock concerned because of a missing girl several months ago, and concerned that Shay could be in danger.
What Jules finds spurs her into action! She applies for a teaching job at Blue Rock, and gets it. Off to protect Shay she goes.
As she is travelling, Nona and her lover are brutally murdered. Nona is hung, naked, in the horse stable while Drew has a head wound from a hatchet. Ugly and gruesome.
When Jules gets there, she finds (what are the chances of this happening?) her old boyfriend, Cooper Trent, ex-rodeo cowboy, ex-cop is a teacher there. Trent is looking for the missing girl, or information pertaining to her, at the request of her parents.
Now they have a murder to solve.
Once they get over the shock of being together again, Jules and Cooper work together to uncover Blue Rock’s mysteries. They are told of a secret, possibly dangerous, society of TA’s that meets somewhere around campus.
More murders…and the terror at the school escalates just as the snow storm of the century hits and further isolates the school.
I have read several Lisa Jackson books lately and “Without Mercy” is right up there with the best. I love the way she cuts to the evil people without naming them. The reader gets an insiders point of view of what they are thinking and planning. For example, the mysterious “Leader” has the hots for Shay and, now, Jules. We find he is driven by sexual desire, but, is trying to control that desire. We also know that he has followers (duh..he is “The Leader”).
The ending of the book reveals the motives of “The Leader” and his followers, and also the identity of the murderer. Believe me, the ending will surprise the living daylights out of you.
I highly recommend picking up “Without Mercy” but make sure you have cleared your scheudle!
Rating: 3 WaterTowers
“Chosen to Die” is an ARC sent to me by Lisa Jackson, but I’m so far behind in my reading that it should be in stores now.
Pinewood County, Montana is in the midst of a killing spree by someone the Pinewood Sheriffs Department calls the “Star-Crossed Killer”. The victims are all women.
The typical scenario is as follows: The victims car tires are shot out (by an obviously expert marks-person) and a crash ensues. The injured victim is rescued and nursed back to health (sometimes taking weeks). When the victim has recovered from their injuries, the Star-Crossed Killer takes them, naked, into the deep woods, lashes them to a tree, and leaves them there to freeze to death (it is the dead of winter).
Taunting the local police, the Star-Crossed Killer leaves a note attached to the tree of each victim. As each victim is found the note becomes more clear. For example, Theresa Charleton was the first missing person and the first victim. The note on the tree read: T C . After 5 victims, the last being Hanna Estes, the note now reads: WAR THE SC IN Each victims initials forming the letters in the message.
Detective Regan Pescoli of the Pinewood Sheriffs Department is driving to her ex’s to pick up her kids. A winter storm is raging and she is, likewise, raging….at her ex. As she reaches the summit of the last mountain, she hears a shot and loses control of her car. She crashes in the ravine and is badly injured. Before she loses consciousness she realizes that she has become the latest victim of the Star-Crossed Killer.
After realizing that Regan is missing, Regan’s partner, Detective Selena Alvarez starts the search and tries to figure out the meaning of the notes (with the help of the FBI and others). She comes up with her version of two possible “final” notes: WAR OF THE SCORPION and BEWARE THE SCORPION. Regan Pescoli is an obvious choice for a victim.
The race is on to find Regan before she heals and ends up tied to a tree.
“Chosen to Die” introduces several characters and sub plots as it moves toward the very exciting climax.
Nate Santana was born in Pinewood County but has just returned as a ranch had on Brady Long’s ranch. He is dating Regan Pescoli.
Brady Long is a very wealthy part-time lifelong resident of Pinewood County. His father is close to death and when he dies Brady and his sister, Padgett, will inherit the family fortune. Luckily for Brady, Padgett has been in a mental institution since a boating accident many years ago, so she is no threat to Brady’s inheritance. He is a greedy guy.
Several interesting characters with visions, or second sight, are introduced including town drunk Ivor Hicks who claimed to be following the orders of Crytor (the lead Alien who abducted Ivor years ago) when he found the latest victim of the Star-Crossed Killer. Ivor’s son, Billy Hicks, is always called to bring the drunken Ivor home.
Is Regan found in time? Does she escape? Are more women murdered? Who is the Star-Crossed Killer? What is his / her motive? You will just have to read “Chosen to Die” to find out. :-)
This is the second book I have read by Lisa Jackson. The first “Malice” was a crackling, can’t put down, thriller that I gave 5 WaterTowers. ”Chosen to Die” does not live up to “Malice” and at times it can be confusing (with all the characters some of which are introduced but do virtually nothing following that & sub plots). The lack of a true hero also bothered me, but, maybe the book sets out to mirror real-life where clear cut heros are hard to find. Perhaps reading the first book in this series would help: ”Left to Die”.
Ultimately, I enjoyed “Chosen to Die” especially the climax where….oh, you thought I was going to tell you? Not!
I will recommend “Chosen to Die” if only in paperback (which may be your only choice?).
Rating: 5 WaterTowers
“She saw her skin crinkling and charring, felt her muscles and tissue consumed by hungry, excruciating flames. Her eylashes and hair would singe as she screamed…..”
“Malice” is one of those books that you simply cannot put down. And when you are forced to, you can’t wait to get back to it for fear it may take off without you.
“Malice” is pure whodunnit action from the first word to the last.
“Malice” opens with the death of Jennifer Bentz, ex-wife of Rick Bentz a detective in the Los Angeles Police Department. Jennifer has a problem with being faithful, but, Rick had taken her back…..twice. Rick loved Jennifer more than anything or anyone, and, except for her trangressions, the feeling was mutual.
After Jennifer’s death, Rick’s life with the LAPD rapidly came to an end. A great cop, he had shot and killed a 12 year old boy who was pointing a gun at his partner. Unfortunately for Rick, the gun was a toy. This incident along with Jennifer’s death drove Rick to drink and his life as an LA cop deteriorated.
Rick left LA (and an unresolved murder of twin sisters) and moved to….errrr, LA. Louisiana that is, picking up a position with the New Orleans Police Department. There he meets and marries a wonderful woman, Olivia.
They live happily ever after…well almost.
After surviving a near fatal accident, Rick starts seeing Jennifer. He first sees her in the hospital as he is recovering, but, he and his daughter, Kristi, attribute that sighting to the drugs.
Not the case.
He then sees her several more times including once in his own backyard. Due to his injuries he tries to catch “Jennifer” but cannot, and there is no trace of her being there. None.
Is “Jennifer” a figment of his imagination? Is she a ghost? Is she alive? Is he going crazy?
These questions haunt Rick until an envelope from Culver City, CA arrives with recent pictures of ”Jennifer” and Jennifer’s death certificate with a big red question mark on it.
Rick wants to figure this out, so he travels back to LA to find out what is going on. Once there, he finds few LAPD friends (and a number of scorned ex-lovers on the force), but one, Detective Jonas Hayes, is still a friend.
Between Jonas and Rick’s New Orleans PD partner, Reuben Montoya, Rick gets the inside help he needs to try to uncover who is behind the sightings and photos.
Unfortunately, the instant Rick arrives in LA, people who know Rick, or are associated with Rick’s past, start turning up dead. Murdered.
Page by breathtaking page “Malice” keeps the reader guessing as to who the murderer is. It could be anyone, and I found myself guessing wrong several times until it became clear. Very cool.
One interesting technique I enjoyed was when the killer was talking, it was in first person and in real-time.
“Perfect! I think with a smile. I peer through binoculars from a hiding spot in the upper story of an abandoned warehouse that reeks of must and oil.”
I have said this only once before, and I will repeat it here:
If you read one book this year, “Malice” should be at the top of the list!