He stalks his women, and then assaults them with a stun gun, paralyzing them with volts of electricity. Later, in his frigid, icy lair, hidden in the Bitterroot Mountains, he strips them naked and pours layer after layer of icy water over them. They die from hypothermia. As the water hardens and builds into sheets, he begins to carve ice sculptures out of his victims.
Paying attention to the slightest detail as he carves, each sculpture must be precise and perfect; as his life must be precise and perfect. Everything in his world must be exact in all respects. After all, he considers himself a great artist, on the level with The Almighty Himself.
He deposits his "creations" in various locations around Grizzly Falls, Montana. He does this so that the locals can gaze in wonder at his "art".
It's not so much "wonder" as it is abject terror that the locals view this madman's "work".
It is with equal parts horror and frustration that Regan Pescoli, Detective of the Pinewood County Sheriff's Department and her partner, Selena Alvarez attempt to catch a crazed killer during the brutally cold Montana Christmas season.
For Selena, the normal frustration of hunting a crazy person is compounded by fear. It seems that the killer is obsessed with her personally. Her house has been broken into and personal items have been stolen.
Later, some of those items have been found on the body/statues of the victims.
Her life is further complicated when a former lover from her past and a child she gave up for adoption years ago both show up literally at her doorstep.
Meanwhile, this killer leaves virtually no physical clues that might lead to his capture; except, of course the gruesome "statues" he poses around the small, tight-knit community.
His victims are diverse:
- Lara Sue Gilfry, missing for approximately 1 month. A 28 year old transient, last seen at the Bed & Breakfast where she worked as a maid. She was estranged from her family, and considered a loner. She attended the same church as the 3rd victim, but was not a serious member. There was a tiny drop of male blood left by her body/statue.
- Lisa Parson, missing for more than a week. A 26 year old receptionist. No clothes missing from her closet, yet her car, computer, and cell phone are missing. She belonged to the same church as the 3rd victim but stopped going about 18 months ago.
- Brenda Sutherland, divorced, mother of two teenaged sons. A devoted churchgoer. Kidnapped while driving home from church service. She had serious problems with her ex-husband. A single, short, male hair was found in her car.
- Johnna Phillips, a young bank employee. She was pregnant and recently separated from her boyfriend. She was kidnapped while leaving an office Christmas party.
II. My Judgment of This Murder BookThis is the forth of a series of "To Die" books which centers around the exploits of Detective Regan Pescoli and her partner, Selena Alvarez.
As I've said in past reviews, I really don't care for a lot of personal drama in the murder books that I read. I've found that they distract from the investigation and hunt for the killer.
But, in this case, Detective Alvarez's personal "involvements" do have serious bearings on the case. This is particularly true with the introduction of her long-lost teenaged son.
So, for those who may share my feelings about personal stuff getting in the way of a good murder book (most of you won't, I'm sure), you can relax. Lisa Jackson integrates all the personal drama of Alvarez's life into the hunt for this lunatic. And it works!
What made this book suspenseful for me was Jackson's style of writing which can be described as descriptive. Some authors are big on dialog. That's fine; I love good dialog, especially if it's laced with humor.
Jackson has the ability to describe a setting and make the reader feel as if they are actually there. There's an old motto that says "don't tell them, show them".
To that end, Jackson injects a strong sense of atmosphere into her writing. You defiantly feel the icy chill of the stormy, Montana winter as the killer stalks his prey.
So, was this murder book worth the effort? I'd say, yes. In spite of all the romantic drama, the climax bought things to an exciting conclusion.
You'll never guess the killer's identity in a million years. And you'll not believe this demented person's reasons for committing such brutal crimes. All in all, it was well worth the wait.