Malice
Lisa Jackson
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Buy *Malice* by Lisa Jackson online

Malice
Lisa Jackson
Kensington
Hardcover
432 pages
April 2009
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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For those new to Lisa Jacksonís writing, the name ďRick BentzĒ means nothing. Fans of Ms. Jackson, on the other hand, already know theyíre in for a terrific treat as the New Orleans detective stars again in Malice. This latest Jackson mystery sweeps readers away with well-developed characters, flawless narrative elements, and a setting that almost literally transports you there. All these wonderful parts come together putting this book down once you get started nearly impossible.

Rick Bentz is back as the talented but vulnerable man still haunted by his first wife who died after Bentz filed for divorce. He is also still suffering from an injury incurred at the end of Jacksonís Lost Souls. Bentz wakes up in a hospital bed following the accident after smelling the same gardenia-scented perfume his wife wore and seeing her, Jennifer, standing there. She blows him a kiss, but as quickly as she came, she disappears. Bentz shakes himself - it couldnít have been Jennifer as she died twelve years ago.

After being discharged, however, Bentz continues seeing Jennifer almost everywhere. He begins to ask himself, as will the reader, if she might still be alive. Did he identify the wrong body after the terrible car wreck? No - that WAS her behind the wheel of that car. She had the same clothes, the wedding ringÖbut now he begins to doubt himself. Bentz wants to tell his wife, Olivia, about this, but he realizes she will think he is out of his mind. What he doesnít know is that Olivia is also hiding a secret from him.

Things get even worse when a copy of Jenniferís death certificate arrives with a red question mark inscribed across it. The death certificate has a Los Angeles postmark, so Rick Bentz makes his way there. Rick didnít leave L.A. on good terms with anyone and itís a tough thing to go back to. What Rick doesnít know is that by returning to L.A., he is playing right into the hands of a serial killer set on making Rick look like the perpetrator. This patient fiend has waited, knowing that Bentz would eventually take the bait. When he does, he hooks Bentz while Jackson hooks the reader.

The Twenty-One Killer was Rickís last unsolved case before he left L.A. The Twenty-One Killer has the morbid M.O. of strangling identical twins on their 21st birthday, and it looks like heís up to his old tricks again when Rick arrives. Pictures of someone in L.A. who looks like Jennifer are sent to Rick, and that only adds to the confusion he feels. The serial killer, Jenniferóalive or dead? He also doesnít know that Olivia is the next target of this madman.

As the story goes into the sad, sordid details of Rickís past, it seems only natural that he just canít seem to get a break. The main story line includes many twists and turns, and Jackson uses different points of view to tell the story, adding to a realism that puts the reader right in the middle of this murderous mess. A few rough places are hard to follow, but it all adds to the readerís trying to figure out the mystery. The ending is a shock to Bentz AND the reader. Fans of Jackson will like the book; while it isnít my favorite of her novels, itís still a crazy ride and fun read.



Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Karen D. Haney, 2009

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