Killing Time
Linda Howard
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Killing Time
Linda Howard
400 pages
June 2006
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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When a reader picks up a Linda Howard book they can expect an intriguing plot, well-developed characters, action and adventure. In Killing Time she delivers all that and more. Just as she has in some of her earlier novels, such as Dream Man and Son of the Morning, she centers the story around the paranormal and the unusual, delivering a book that is completely out of the ordinary.

On a cold New Year’s Day in 1985, a small group of people gather outside the courthouse in Pekesville, Kentucky, to watch a time capsule being buried. The capsule is filled with the usual items - photos, a local history, a letter from the mayor and other various things. In total, a dozen items are put inside, and the capsule is placed into the hole following a small ceremony. It is supposed to be opened a century later, in the year 2085.

Fifteen-year-old Knox Davis is among the handful of people who have gathered to watch the event. He and his father live over the hardware store that his father runs, which just happens to be right across the street from the courthouse. They’ve come out to watch, mostly because the New Year’s bowl games haven’t started yet and they are bored.

Knox is not like most boys his age. He’s very watchful and inquisitive and is always asking questions. He knows that the local paper has reported that twelve items were put in the capsule, but he has counted thirteen being placed inside. His curiosity is aroused as he loves solving puzzles and problems, and he is determined to find out what the extra item is. His father, knowing his son, heads him off and convinces him to go back inside to watch football, assuring him that he can ask his questions tomorrow.

That same night the man who placed the stone over where the time capsule is buried commits suicide. Knox forgets all about the contents of the time capsule as his interest is taken up with the details surrounding the death. He begins to study forensics and unintentionally finds his life’s work.

Twenty years later, Knox is now the chief county investigator, working in that same courthouse building which also houses the jail and the sheriff’s department. He’s found the perfect way to combine his interest in solving puzzles and asking questions into a career. Due to the sudden death of his fiancé seven years earlier, he has immersed himself in his work and has little social life. He’s at work early one morning when a deputy comes in and tells him that the time capsule has been dug up.

They assume, at first, that it is a teenage prank, but they can find no footprints on the scene even though it is surrounded by dirt. When Knox checks the security tapes from the building, they seem to show nothing at all. A closer examination shows everything is normal, then there is a sudden flash of light, and when the light fades they discover that the ground has been dug up and the time capsule is gone. Knox’s curiosity is piqued, and he is determined to get to the bottom of it.

Before he can investigate, he is needed at a murder scene. A man has been brutally murdered in his home, but there is no sign of forced entry or struggle. It crosses Knox’s mind that this man was also there the same day the time capsule was buried. It doesn’t make sense that the two crimes would be related, but Knox cannot dismiss the fact that both crimes occurred on the same night and he has no suspects for either of them. It makes him question what the extra item was that was placed in the capsule and whether it was something worth killing for.

Nikita T. Stover shows up unannounced in Pekesville. After years of studying and training to get herself physically and mentally ready, she is finally in the field, tracking a killer. She is the third agent to be given this assignment. The first was killed on the job and the second failed miserably. She is determined to succeed where the others have failed.

When she goes to check out the murder scene, she is confronted by a very angry Knox who wants to know what she is doing nosing around his crime scene. The fact that she is an F.B.I. agent appeases him somewhat. Nikita is more than willing to use the local investigator if it will help her complete her mission, even as she knows the feelings she’s developing for him could jeopardize her job and her safety.

But Nikita has secrets, and lots of them. All is not what it seems, and Knox will be forced to examine everything he’s ever believed in. When another murder occurs, he must decide if he can trust Nikita. For the first time in seven years, he finds himself very attracted to this one woman, even if it seems that they really have no future together.

Linda Howard takes a dark, serious plot and intersperses it with enough humor and sexual heat to keep the reader glued to the pages. The suspense grows with each chapter as Knox and Nikita race to uncover the whole truth before more people are murdered. The paranormal twist is extremely interesting and conjures up all kinds of questions, even if the explanations sometime slow the pace. Killing Time is sure to please all Linda Howard fans as it delivers a story filled with danger, romance, and plenty of unexpected twists and turns.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Norma Collins, 2005

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