“Malice” by Lisa Jackson

Genre: Thiller

Rating:  5 WaterTowers

“She saw her skin crinkling and charring, felt her muscles and tissue consumed by hungry, excruciating flames.  Her eylashes and hair would singe as she screamed…..”

“Malice” is one of those books that you simply cannot put down.  And when you are forced to, you can’t wait to get back to it for fear it may take off without you.

“Malice” is pure whodunnit action from the first word to the last.

Breathless.

“Malice” opens with the death of Jennifer Bentz, ex-wife of Rick Bentz a detective in the Los Angeles Police Department.  Jennifer has a problem with being faithful, but, Rick had taken her back…..twice.  Rick loved Jennifer more than anything or anyone, and, except for her trangressions, the feeling was mutual.

After Jennifer’s death, Rick’s life with the LAPD rapidly came to an end. A great cop, he had shot and killed a 12 year old boy who was pointing a gun at his partner. Unfortunately for Rick, the gun was a toy. This incident along with Jennifer’s death drove Rick to drink and his life as an LA cop deteriorated.

Rick left LA (and an unresolved murder of twin sisters) and moved to….errrr, LA.  Louisiana that is, picking up a position with the New Orleans Police Department.  There he meets and marries a wonderful woman, Olivia.

They live happily ever after…well almost.

After surviving a near fatal accident, Rick starts seeing Jennifer.  He first sees her in the hospital as he is recovering, but, he and his daughter, Kristi, attribute that sighting to the drugs.

Not the case.

He then sees her several more times including once in his own backyard.  Due to his injuries he tries to catch “Jennifer” but cannot, and there is no trace of her being there.  None.

Is “Jennifer” a figment of his imagination?  Is she a ghost?  Is she alive? Is he going crazy?

These questions haunt Rick until an envelope from Culver City, CA arrives with recent pictures of  “Jennifer” and Jennifer’s death certificate with a big red question mark on it.

Rick wants to figure this out, so he travels back to LA to find out what is going on. Once there, he finds few LAPD friends (and a number of scorned ex-lovers on the force), but one, Detective Jonas Hayes, is still a friend.

Between Jonas and Rick’s New Orleans PD partner, Reuben Montoya, Rick gets the inside help he needs to try to uncover who is behind the sightings and photos.

Unfortunately, the instant Rick arrives in LA, people who know Rick, or are associated with Rick’s past, start turning up dead.  Murdered.

Page by breathtaking page “Malice” keeps the reader guessing as to who the murderer is.  It could be anyone, and I found myself guessing wrong several times until it became clear.  Very cool.

One interesting technique I enjoyed was when the killer was talking,  it was in first person and in real-time.

“Perfect! I think with a smile.  I peer through binoculars from a hiding spot in the upper story of an abandoned warehouse that reeks of must and oil.”

I have said this only once before, and I will repeat it here:

If you read one book this year, “Malice” should be at the top of the list!

Awesome.

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