Book Critique - Absolute Fear (New Orleans # 4)

For all books in this series: Go here

Stars: 4 / 5

Recommendation: Bone-chilling thriller with the touches of romance, lust and twisted minds - a perfect medley to enjoy the read despite the shivers it leaves in the reader's spine.

Absolute Fear is the fourth book in the New Orleans series with Detectives Rick Bentz and Reuben Montoya by Lisa Jackson published in April of 2007. The plot begins where the third book Shiver (My review of that book is here) leaves off forming a sort of sequel to it.

In Shiver, Detectives Bentz and Montoya not only solve the serial killings by someone connected to Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital, but they also manage to solve the abuse and murder of Abby and Zoey’s mother Faith Chastain who had resided at the Hospital two decades ago. However, Lisa had ended the plot with quite a few segues into the plot for Absolute Fear. One would expect Lisa to pursue this further with, yet she pulls the Detectives into another case – a case where Eve Renner, the victim had been shot by her fiancée Cole Dennis, barely missing her. As Detectives work to nail him, he escapes finally due to the victim’s amnesia. Now Cole Dennis is bent on finding why someone was trying to frame him while Eve Renner is struggling to understand why the love of her life had shot her. In the midst of all these another serial goes on a killing spree pulling the Detectives into another chilling hunt. And this time again all roads lead to the Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital, but this time through Eve Renner. And Eve and the Detectives are once again forced to race against time before someone close to Eve or herself is killed next.

The way how Shiver ended, it is a given to the reader that Lisa Jackson would concentrate on the step-sibling of Abby and Zoey Chastain who is yet to be identified. Going into it I was prepared to have this step-sibling portraying a key role in the plot. But what it did not prepare me was for the twists and hidden secrets that Lisa throws at the reader along the plot. Whoa! A real twist indeed. Oh the connections between the characters drove me crazy, but it all made so much sense.

Again Lisa has a very intelligent antagonist who knows more about past sins of the player than the players themselves and who uses it smartly so he is always a step ahead of the Detectives and Eve. She makes her Detectives not dumb either, though they are a bit behind so they work fast to catch on. Lisa also ties in the past of Detective Bentz wherever possible neatly with the current plot. This in itself makes me wonder if she would have a plot in a future book in the series solely on Detective Bentz’s past. Not having read the remaining books yet, I can only guess. And can’t wait to read them soon either.

Between the twisted mind of the killer, the continued clash between Eve and Cole, the hidden secrets from Eve’s past and the twisted way it all connects to that happened two decades ago at Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital keeps the reader gripped to the plot, anticipating something to jump at the reader at every turn of the page.

As always the language is impeccable, description of the scenes and sceneries are spot on. This time around author Lisa almost gives away who the killer could be in the previous book Shiver itself. However, she doesn’t make the road leading up to revealing the killer any less treacherous or filled with any lesser terror. A bone chilling thriller with a touch of romance, love and human emotions that a killer normally doesn’t understand. Not a read for faint hearts but for those brave ones who can read it while sitting in a corner in a darkened basement too. If you are one, I would say go for it.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Plot Reveals:

a. So the biggest twist would be that Eve Renner is not only related to Abby and Zoey Chastain but also to Detective Bentz and his daughter Kristi – Apparently Father James McClaren – Bentz’s step-brother whom we met in Cold Blooded – had affair with Faith Chastain while she was residing at Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital and Father James was the visiting father at the chapel. In the process he gets Faith pregnant and she gives birth to Eve Renner. In a twisted way Eve is step-sister not only to Abby and Zoey Chastain and also to Kristi Bentz, and also niece of Detective Rick Bentz, and apparently will be related to Detective Reuben Montoya by way of his upcoming wedding with Abby Chastain. A very big happy family Lisa Jackson created out of these characters. I hope she doesn’t have any more twists there cause this in itself makes your mind spin.

b. At the end of the plot, Kristi Bentz wakes up from coma with visions of seeing death around her father. She somehow unlocks her ability to see people at death’s door. And since she sees her father would die soon, this is a clear segue that Lisa Jackson gives the readers that her next book would follow this plot. I just have to read it to prove my thought. :)

2) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character / Geographical Errors:

a. On Pg. 180, Lisa shows the dark van following Eve after she leaves her home. But on Pg. 225, she mentions through Eve that after Eve left the police station she had seen the dark van following her. Both are contradictory as to when Eve sees the dark van the previous day.

b. On Pg. 283, Lisa shows how the killer stabs Sister Rebecca in her chest and kills her. But on Pg. 287, she mentions through the Detectives that Sister Rebecca was killed with a slit to her throat. I read twice the entire scene to see if I missed anything, but I didn’t see Lisa mentioning anywhere about Sister being killed by slit to her throat on Pg. 283. A clear contradiction on the way Sister Rebecca was killed. Perhaps a miss on part of the author on Pg. 283.

3) Sub – Plots:

a. In Hot Blooded, Dr. Samantha Leeds brother Peter Williams disappears from their lives more than ten years ago. Detectives couldn’t find anything about him either. Will Lisa Jackson bring him back in a future book?

b. Although the case is closed, author Lisa Jackson leaves a big door open with regards to Father John’s character from Hot Blooded. Was he truly vanquished by the Detectives or will he re-appear in a future plot by Lisa is something we have to wait and see.

c. Norm Stowell – an FBI profiler – and Andre Navarrone – ex-cop at Houston PD - appear briefly in Hot Blooded. However they left me with an impression that they might come back as major ones in a future book. Have to wait and see if Lisa would resurrect them.

d. In Cold Blooded, Detective Montaya's girlfriend Marta Vasquez goes missing and doesn’t get solved at the end of the plot. Perhaps it is for another book in the series.

e. What will the fate of Sarah Restin and her no-good husband Leo Restin be? These characters appeared in Cold Blooded.

f. Unanswered questions about Bernadette and Reggie from Cold Blooded also perhaps will be answered in a future book.

g. Jennifer Bentz - Rick's ex-wife - has been murdered. Her character background is shown in both the first book Hot Blooded and second book Cold Blooded. But there is enough left off to make me feel that Lisa Jackson would bring her back in some book in future.


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