Bad Moon Rising
Katherine Sutcliffe
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Bad Moon Rising

Katherine Sutcliffe
340 pages
May 2003
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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J.D. Damascus was once a respected and feared assistant district attorney on the fast path to success. But it all collapsed the day he got the awful news that the notorious French Quarter killer had struck again -- and this time the victims were his wife and two young children. This gruesome incident devastated him, and he never really believed that the man later caught and executed as the killer was the actual murderer. Now, four years later, he’s still unconvinced, on the verge of a breakdown, penniless and on the fast lane to self-destruction. His only clients are women from the seedier sections of society. He’s still thirsting for revenge, forever on the lookout for the killer who, he’s certain, is roaming free. Little does he realize how right he is.

When her friend Melissa, a hooker like she’d been once, calls Holly Jones with the horrific news that the French Quarter killer is back and prowling the red light district, and begs her help, Holly immediately returns to Louisiana at great personal risk. She’s frantic when she discovers Melissa missing. The police are not in the least interested in looking for a hooker, so she has no recourse but to turn to Damascus for help. Together they uncover a vast conspiracy -- that the police know about the killer’s resurrection and that they’re more interested in keeping it from becoming public knowledge than in tracking him down. Holly and Damascus become romantically involved, but many things complicate their lives. There is Beverly, J.D’s sister-in-law, who fancies herself in love with him; her son Patrick, who’s acting out in either ordinary teenage rebellion or something vastly more sinister; J.D’s brother, who feels threatened by him; a certain disreputable character, whose hatred for J.D and Holly is unlimited; and countless others. And then there is Holly’s past – can J.D ever accept a former hooker in his life?

Katherine Sutcliffe is expert at creating dark, mysterious novels. In Bad Moon Rising, she gets into the killer’s mind to chillingly describe his thinking, his methods, and ultimately his reasons for doing what he does. She neither absolves him nor renders him a victim of circumstances; rather, she describes him for the utterly evil, totally conscienceless killer who enjoys what he does. This is not only very convincing, but greatly increases the terror factor in this unrelentingly disturbing novel. J.D. is the tortured hero, and his angst and constant thirst for revenge add another edge to the tale. Holly is much more believable as the hooker trying her level best to enter normal society, and the obstacles she faces in both this and her quest for her missing friend. Supporting characters are many, and they only add to the complex scenario. Overall, the plot is nothing new, but what Sutcliffe does with it is interesting and engaging.

© 2003 by Rashmi Srinivas for Curled Up With a Good Book

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