Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dead Ringer by Mary Burton

Dead Ringer by Mary Burton
(Romantic Suspense)

I'm a sucker for a good suspense novel that leaves you guessing whodunnit. Dead Ringer by Mary Burton does just that. I actually changed my mind three different times on who was guilty, and in the end I was wrong. Wow! From the git go this is a story that draws you in, and it doesn't let up until the very last page.

Women are being killed in Henrico County. Aside from the fact that each victim bears a striking resemblance to the others, the cops have little to go on. Detectives Jacob Warwick and Zach Kier know the murders are tied together because the killer leaves each woman with an engraved charm. Featured on each charm is a woman's name, but this is what confuses the detectives. The names on the charms don't match those of the victims. There has to be a link, yet determining what that link might be is proving difficult.

When Jacob discovers that local news anchor, Kendall Shaw, bears an uncany likeness to the murdered women, he is more and more certain that appearance plays a far greater role than coincidence in this case. The fact that Jacob finds himself unwittingly attracted to the brass reporter leaves him feeling a personal connection to the case. He's a dedicated cop, and will do everything in his power to find out who is behind the serial killings. However, with his attraction to Shaw brewing underneath everything else, he's all the more eager to catch the psychopath responsible so as to be sure that Kendall remains safe and alive.

Kendall meanwhile plays the role of on scene investigative reporter. She isn't sure she takes Jacob's theory, that one that says she could be next, to heart, yet a girl can never be too careful. Especially when her nightmares start to plague her nightly; they alone are enough to push a person over the edge. Coupled with the rash of murders and the thoughts that Jacob has put in to her head, Kendall knows she must get to the bottom of the story if only to set her mind at ease.

Her recent obsession with discovering more about her past, from before she was adopted at age three, also weighs heavy on Kendall's mind. Her roommate Nicole is only a short time away from delivering her own baby, and her interaction with a local adoption agency has sparked Kendall to trace down her roots. She isn't quite certain, but the reporter inside of her suspects her past must certainly have something to do with the terrifying nightmare that plays out in her sleep each night. It's more than just a bad dream. It's like her mind is replaying a clip from her own life so very long ago. If only she could remember, maybe she could stop the nightmares and put them to bed forever.

Only time will tell if the Henrico serial killer will strike again, if Kendall is on his list, and where her nightmares are leading her.

Bone chilling. Skin prickling. Mary Burton's Dead Ringer was phenomenal. Nearly impossible to set down for a second, this edge of your seat thriller will make you think twice about your own past. They've always said, there's a double out there for all of us. Are you really who you think you are?

EDITED TO ADD: If you read my review for the Christmas anthology Silver Bells you'll be interested to know that Burton's story in it actually was written about some of the underlying characters in Dead Ringer. Apparently I read them backwards {LOL} because the storyline starts with this book, and then goes on to the short included in Silver Bells.

~ Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC

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