Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Review of "So Close the Hand of Death" [18]

So Close the Hand of Death by J.T.Ellison
Mira, ISBN 978-0778329435
February 15, 2011, 416 pages

For fans of police procedurals and those who enjoy a 'nice' serial killer thriller, Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson is back for the sixth book in the series... and this time just one serial killer is not enough!

On the same night, in several places across the country, gruesome murders take place, each seemingly committed in the 'style' of a famous serial killer. The Son of Sam, the Zodiac killer, the Boston Strangler appear to be back...but behind them all, it soon become apparent to Jackson, is one evil mastermind, The Pretender, protege of the Snow White killer. The Snow White killer, who we met in 14, may have been defeated by Jackson, but that was certainly not the end of the story. No, once again, even as the bodies fall and the chase is on across the nation, stretching police resources to the point of breaking, it seems that the killer's real motive is very personal and that Jackson, and all those closest to her, are the ultimate targets. Yes, The Pretender, psychopath extraordinaire, is back, Taylor is his target, and this time he has a lot of helpers.

Taylor is not alone in the battle either, because back once again are all the great characters from the previous books in the series. We have her now fiance, FBI profiler John Baldwin, who is dealing with several problems of his own, both professional and personal, her father figure Sergeant Pete Fitzgerald, and her best friend and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Loughley. But those closest to her are in terrible danger and even as she hunts down the Pretender, she must distance those closest to her, both to protect them and to keep her secret. Because Taylor has a plan, a plan for the Pretender that she can not share with anyone.

Ellison is a great writer and this is a real page turner, from the shocking opening pages, through some great, surprising twists and turns, to, as always in Ellison's books, a great conclusion. Both Jackson and Baldwin are flawed yet with deep resources of strength, as befits all great thriller characters, and The Pretender is as creepy and evil as all 'good' serial killers should be, with a last minute twist that took me by total surprise.

I will admit that I am not always a fan of thrillers where the central characters, especially if it a detective or police officer, is the target of the killer. I think it is usually a weakness if the story becomes too personal, that a bit of distance is best. And I must say, when we discover what is behind the Pretender's hatred of Taylor in this book, I was a bit let down. But that being said, Ellison pulls it off in this book, once again.

Now, can this be read as a stand-alone book? Perhaps, since Ellison does attempt, pretty successfully, to explain the relevant backstory. But quite honestly, I think many readers would be rather confused and certainly for maximum enjoyment, it would be best to go back and read the previous book. Yes, I know...another can a reader ever catch up?
But you better hurry, because the next Taylor Jackson book, Where All The Dead Lie, this time set in Scotland, will be released October 1.

My thanks to Magdalena, from Planned TV Arts, and the publisher, Mira, for a review copy of this book.


  1. You know, I think I have about a dozen series that I'd love to read, this being one. I think back on a day before blogging, when I went into a bookstore and told them I was looking for a new series to invest in, and nobody could help me. I wish I would have known you then!

  2. I know...the task is hopeless.

    But you can only do the best that you can and read...and read...and read..on! ;-)

  3. I need to find the time to start this series! You make it sound so good.

  4. The concept of a nice serial killer is intriguing...

  5. Really? I think it is relative. lol

  6. I don't know what it is about serial killer stories, but i just love them. This sounds like a terrific one. Thanks for the review!

  7. I don't know what it is either..perhaps I need to muse on that, because I sure do enjoy them too. :-)


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