Published January 29, 2013 by Kensington Books
Synopsis and cover image provided by the publisher.
If At First You Don’t Succeed
It’s been seven years since the Seattle Strangler terrorized the city. His victims were all young, pretty, their lifeless bodies found wrapped in a home-sewn white dress. But there was one who miraculously escaped death, just before the Strangler disappeared…
Lara Church has only hazy memories of her long-ago attack. What she does have is a home in Austin, a job, and a chance at a normal life at last. Then Texas Ranger James Beck arrives on her doorstep with shattering news: The Strangler is back. And this time, he’s in Austin…
And Kill Again…
He’s always craved her, even as he killed the others. For so long he’s been waiting to unleash the beast within. And this time, he’ll prove he holds her life in his hands—right before he ends it forever…
Let me tell you a little story about this book. I accidentally requested to get an ARC. I thought that the author was a different author whom I have read and enjoyed before and I jumped out of my chair in joy at thinking she had a new book. After I realized that I was mistaken about who the author was, I ended up not caring too much because the story still sounded really fantastic. Oh, how I was wrong! Despite having an excellent cover and an astounding synopsis, this book was just a mess. I bring you, bullet points!
- Predictable plot is predictable. By the second or third time we have the killer introduced into a scene, I knew who it was. It was so painfully obvious that it was…well painful. Also, by about the halfway point I had figured out what the twist was and by 70% I knew who the twist would revolve around. I don’t know whether to credit my obsession with the TV show Criminal Minds for this or maybe the plot was just that obvious and unimaginative.
- Stubborn heroine who insists on protecting herself but seems to be incapable of doing so. Every time we talked to Lara she was insisting that she could take care of herself, but them proceeds to do completely idiotic things that seem to suggest otherwise. For example, going to a recent crime scene when it is nearly dark outside…by yourself…with just a camera…and a shotgun (that she left in a locked car). I mean, what good is a shotgun going to do you if it’s locked in your car 20 yards away? I’m pretty sure an assailant isn’t going to allow you to run 20 yards to the car, unlock the car, get the shotgun, load the shotgun, and then shoot him. She has a darkroom and leaves it unlocked while she is in there with her back to the door and in the dark. And then she ignores her dog when he starts barking at something from outside. Gee, that sounds smart! And don’t get your hopes up that the other female characters are any smarter, they aren’t. One notable moment is when one girl gets a flat tire, on an abandoned road at night, without cell phone service, hasn’t seen another sign of human life in at least a half hour, but is ever so grateful at the person who has been following her the whole time for offering his help! I sincerely hope that there are not that many stupid women in the world.
- Cops who are either oblivious or inept. Anyone who has watched Law & Order knows that when a person is attacked, most of the time the attacker is someone they know. Yet, these cops mostly seem to sit around wondering which unknown stranger it could be without even bothering to look at people close to Lara. Their justification is, well it’s a serial killer so he probably doesn’t know the victims. That doesn’t hold water either. Criminal Minds has taught me that serial killers have their distinct signatures because the actions satisfy some need or fantasy they have. If a serial killer does not rape his victims and then suddenly a similar crime appears with a rape, it’s not the same guy. If a serial killer is going after prostitutes and homeless woman, and suddenly it’s a young blonde college student who was a big risk then it’s not the same guy! But all of this is overlooked too, despite the claim that a FBI profiler was advising them. Really? He must be inept too!
- Lame romance. It was very cliche for the head cop to fall for Lara. And I just didn’t feel it. I knew that they had feelings for each other because the author told me they did, but that’s the only reason. Their actual actions and words didn’t lead me to that conclusion at all. Then they decide to have sex after the most traumatic and violent scene in the whole book? What? Nearly getting killed is an aphrodisiac for Lara? Yeah that was weird and made me feel like I needed a shower with bleach. Oh and let’s throw in another cliche, simultaneous orgasms. Has this honestly ever happened to anyone in real life? It’s never happened to me! The sex scene made me laugh though. In one paragraph Lara removed his pants and then on the next page she was undoing the button on his pants…when did he put them back on? *snicker*
- Name a cliche, any cliche! Any cliche you can think of for a murder mystery/suspense/thriller and this book probably had it. Surviving victim becomes the obsession of the killer. Obsessed cop who couldn’t let this case go and is now sticking his nose into the current case. Lead cop falling for the poor surviving victim. Female characters with no sense of self preservation. The miraculous “ah ha!” moment that answers all of the questions surrounding the case just pages before the end. The police miraculously bursting in the door just in time to save the poor female victim with a few well placed bullets that never miss. I could name more but I think you get the idea.
- Suspense? Where? This was supposedly a suspense novel, but I never once felt that rush in my veins that suspense novels usually give me. Mostly I just got bored. I started mentally counting cliches in my head and coming up with a scorecard for how well I predicted the book’s plot. There was no suspense, I knew exactly what would happen chapters before it actually happened.
So, there we have it. If you want to read a serial killer novel that is exactly like thousands of other serial killer novels then this is a book for you. If you’ve never read a serial killer novel then this is perfect since you won’t have a clue about how cliche it is! But otherwise, give this one a pass unless you’re suffering from insomnia…because then it might help.
I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Kensington books! This review is based on an uncorrected ARC of this book, certain things may differ from the final copy.