Malice by Lisa Jackson
(Kensington Publishing, ISBN 978-0-8217-7940-8)
When New Orleans Detective Rick Bentz wakes up in his hospital bed, recovering from an accident that nearly took his life, and sees his ex-wife Jennifer standing in the doorway of his hospital room, he is, without question, quite upset.
You see, his ex-wife Jennifer committed suicide 12 years ago.
At first, he thinks his 'vision' may be the result of the pain medication he is on. But when he is home months later and long off the medication, and the glimpses of her continue, he doesn't know what to think. Is it possible that Jennifer is not dead? Is it possible that the body he identified years ago, terribly mangled in the head on car crash into a tree, was not his ex-wife? The sightings continue but when a copy of her death certificate, marked with a big red question mark, arrives in the mail, he decides that he must learn the truth about what is going on. He leaves New Orleans, his new wife Olivia and returns to Los Angeles to find out if Jennifer might still be alive, or if he is losing his mind.
Having left LA, and the LAPD, after Jennifer's death, Bentz left behind some terrible memories, some friends and a number of enemies. He starts to investigate Jennifer's death, seeking out her old friends and it is soon apparent that he is stirring up a hornet's nest...and walking right into a killer's trap. A trap that may soon ensnare his wife Olivia, and their unborn child, as well.
This is the seventh book in Lisa Jackson's New Orleans/ Detective Bentz series and I am sorry to say, I don't think it is the best. I have read a number of the books in the series before and each was, I think, a stronger book than this one. The premise of this book is good, the plot and the ultimate conclusion pretty entertaining. Bentz, his friend Detective Montoya and his wife Olivia are good characters but they have been better used in previous books.
One problem is that it just takes way, way to long to get where this book is going. I have run into it before but this is another book that I think could have benefited from some serious editing. It feels at times as if the same scenes, the same sighting, the same chases, the same foolish mistakes on Bentz's part are happening again and again, with just minor changes in settings and people involved. At over 500 pages, this book could been cut by a couple of hundred and been a much tighter, leaner, better thriller.Sometimes less is more.
Also, I must say that setting this book in the series for the most part in LA rather than the much more interesting New Orleans, and giving Olivia a much more minor part, does little to win my interest.
And I won't even go into how I hate to see characters that are supposedly smart, experienced professionals, like Bentz, do stupid, stupid things. No, I won't even go there..because it drives me nuts.
If an interesting thriller series, set in a very atmospheric New Orleans, sounds like something you would like to read, I would recommend you might go back to the beginning of Jackson's series and give another of her books, like the first in this series, Hot Blooded, a try. Perhaps this series has just run it's course.
I read on her web site that she is giving this series a rest and took her newest book, Without Mercy, in a new direction. I think that is a good thing.