Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Review - Wicked Game by Lisa Jackson & Nancy Bush

Wicked Game
Lisa Jackson & Nancy Bush
About the Book

Twenty years ago, wild child Jessie Brentwood vanished from St. Elizabeth's high school. Most in Jessie's tight circle of friends believed she simply ran away. Few suspected that Jessie was hiding a shocking secret - one that brought her into the crosshairs of a vicious killer...Two decades pass before a body is unearthed on school grounds and Jessie's old friends reunite to talk. Most are sure that the body is Jessie's, that the mystery of what happened to her has finally been solved. But soon, Jessie's friends each begin to die in horrible, freak accidents that defy explanation...

Becca Sutcliff has been haunted for years by unsettling visions of Jessie, certain her friend met with a grisly end. Now the latest deaths have her rattled. Becca can sense that an evil force is shadowing her too, waiting for just the right moment to strike. She feels like she's going crazy. Is it all a coincidence - or has Jessie's killer finally returned to finish what was started all those years ago?

My Thoughts

On their own, authors Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush are excellent writers. Now this duo has joined forces to come with a creepy, suspenseful tale that excels in keeping readers on the tenterhooks.

From the first page, where the pivotal murder takes place on a suitably horrible night, readers get a sense of the odd, of the dangerous unknown, of a killer who appears to be known to his victim. This sets the chilling stage for the deadly events to come. The usual suspects, or in this case the coterie of friends of whom Jessie was a part, have differing opinions of Jessie's disappearance. Even more suspensefully, for almost the first third of the novel, only the readers know for certain that the body discovered is that of Jessie while everyone else, except the detective who's long been obsessed with the case, believes her to have run away and not been murdered.

Those friends aren't as close as they once were, and with time and distance they've grown wary of each other. Their interpersonal relationships teeter dangerously between cordial and hateful and no one quite knows what to make of the other. Love, sex, jealousy, ambition, betrayal, bitterness - all rear their ugly heads.

In the midst of this, heroine Becca Sutcliff, who's still recovering from her recent broken marriage, finds herself once again attracted to an old friend who was Jessie's last known serious boyfriend. As they grow close, Becca has to battle demons and ugly memories, and decide once and for all whether she's being used and if so, as a substitute for Jessie or something quite different! All along there's a prevailing sense of deadly peril dogging Becca's footsteps and every time she returns home alone, you almost expect the bogeyman to come out at her with a hatchet or something!

The highly anticipated ending is climactic enough. It answers as many questions as it raises new ones. Those will most likely be answered in the next book of this series.

While writing this review, I mentally went over the story, certain I had spotted many flaws. But the reason I've failed to list any here is that on careful thinking, I realized that the author duo had managed to explain or at least provide reasonable explanation for almost any flaw I/a reader could come up with! I thought Becca falling in love again with the guy who broke her heart the first time around was silly. But then no one said love was rational! I didn't like that the villain stalks Becca again and again but fails to do anything about it till the end. Again, the authors provide a reason for it, a reason that makes sense for that twisted mind. And so on and so forth. That is the biggest plus point of this story, or so I feel.

I long to know what exactly is the story behind Jessie and Becca's pasts. While I may not like it, I will have to wait until the next story in this series releases. That waiting is the only part I truly dislike!

All in all, this tale promises to be the start of a stellar new series!

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