Book Critique - Left To Die (To Die #1)

For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

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

Left To Die is the first book in the To Die Series by Lisa Jackson, published in January of 2008. Although there are several prominent characters, the primary plot mainly revolves around Jillian White Pescoli  who is rescued from a car wreck by Zane MacGregor while they find their way out of their situation while finding themselves towards each other.

After reading Lisa Jackson's New Orleans Series, when I came across the first two books in her To Die Series in the local library sale, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pick them up. And now for my review.

A serial killer comes to surface in the small town of Grizzly Falls in Pinewood County Montana, with already claiming 3 women and another one missing. Detective Selena Alvarez and Regan Pescoli are tasked to find the killer. They are aided by the Pinewood County police force along with the FBI - Special Agents Craig Halden and Stephanie "Steff" Chandler. And the race is on to find the missing person before the killer strikes again, while the Detectives are losing time.

We don’t see a lot of female detectives in mystery and fiction novels or movies or TV shows. But the rare times they show, they do leave a mark. Like Agatha Christie's Miss Marple; Kinsey Millhone from the Alphabet Series by Sue Grafton; Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote TV Show and books; or the detective duo Rizzoli and Isles from the TV show of the same name. I love those books, shows and movies as much as the rest, and a little more. Naturally loved the Alvarez - Pescoli pairing in this series by Lisa. 

Two opposite poles in character and life, yet one dynamic team they form when investigating a case or hunting down serial killers. Yet both tough and dedicated detectives who try to uphold the law and catch criminals.

Despite the advancement in the world, and modern thought process, I saw at least three instances where the author, Lisa, had mentioned that the husbands were fathering children in the hopes of having a son, when all they were having were girls. A situation that I see still very common back home in India, but not expected here much. I guess people are the same wherever you go. **Sigh**

The psychology behind the killer's mind spins your head. Lisa has masterfully spun her story around a plot that keeps the readers not only on their toes, but constantly guessing who is the killer and what would happen at the turn of the next page.

Despite the psychology, our hero's last name, MacGregor, reminded me of the entire MacGregor series by Nora Roberts - a series filled with love, romance, happiness and forever happy endings. 

Lisa did follow a similar pattern in here, as she had with her New Orleans Series. Where she had Detectives Rick Bentz and Reuben Montoya, deal with a plethora of killers, and one, Father John, constantly evading them, in that series; she has Pescoli and Alvarez also deal with multiple killers in here. My feeling is at least one will take the persona of Father John from the other series, and continue to appear at least part way through this series. 

Although I do have an intuition about who this killer could be, a guess from some of the clues Lisa left all through the plot. I am hoping once I read the next book, I will have more clues to confirm my suspicion.

Again, Lisa gave us a chilling thriller that delves into the darker shades of human mind, what ticks a person and causes him / her to kill, what mind-boggling conclusions the killer's minds make for their actions and justify them, all the while giving readers some shivers up their spines. Cant wait to pick the next book.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. The page in the beginning of the book, that gives a brief glimpse of the plot, is titled "Chosen To Die". Knowing what the rest of the books are in this series, I am surprised that Lisa had used the title of her next book in the series as the title of the synopsis. 

b. Lisa does not give closure to the serial killer, the press dubbed as "Star-Crossed Killer". And that killer points out to another one called Scorpion in the notes he puts at his kill sites. 

c. One of the resident, Thomas Cohen who owns a King Cab, causes Pescoli's hairs to rise on suspicion.

d. Jillian comes to Missoula, Montana to ensure that her first husband who was presumed dead.

e. Pescoli's son Jeremy was involved in a murder as a child, and she had get him away with it. 

f. Alvarez has a son from when she got pregnant at seventeen and had given up to adoption immediately after birth. Is he going to become the serial killer? Like one of them from the New Orleans series. 

g. Pescoli becomes the latest victim of the killer just like Grace Perchant had predicted. Since Lisa didn’t close that loop, I presume she will have her next book focusing on Pescoli. But it is unclear how the killer could have guessed that Pescoli would be driving that hill exactly at that moment, when she herself hadnt planned that drive a few minutes prior to being shot by the killer.

h. In this book, towards the end, Lisa highlights about few of her next books in her various series'. One of the book she mentions is Wicked Game, which is the first book in her Wicked Series, co-authored with her sister Nancy Bush. However, she mentions that she has this series stemmed from one of her stand-alone book, Most Likely To Die, which is not part of the To Die series though. This makes me wonder how many of her books are inter connected within the various series' she has going on.

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Police in Grizzly Falls include - Sheriff Dan Grayson & his dog, Sturgis; Deputy Pete Watershed; Undersheriff Cort Brewster; Detective Brett Gage, the chief criminal deputy; Joelle Fisher (Secretary and Receptionist); Peggy Florence (Dispatch); Trilby Van Droz, a road deputy; Zoller, a junior detective; Deputy Rule; A. Schwartz, jailer;

b. Others tied to the law enforcement - Virginia Johnson & Mikhail Slatkin (From the County Crime Lab);

c. Jillian Rivers - the fourth victim who gets missing after her car is shot at by the killer. Her family includes - mother Linnette "Linnie" White; supposedly dead first husband Aaron Caruso and second ex-husband Mason Rivers; sister Dusti White Bellamy married to Drew Bellamy with two kids, Reece and Carrie, living in San Diego; 

d. Zane MacGregor - who saved Jillian Rivers, owns a dog, Harlequin "Harley"; has a friend for a computer hacker, Tydeus Melville Chilcoate; his lady vet friend, Jordan Eagle; 

e. Detective Regan Elizabeth Pescoli's family includes - Jeremy from her first dead husband, Joe Strand; Bianca Pescoli, daughter from her second ex-husband, Luke "Lucky" Pescoli; Dog named Cisco; her on and off lover, Nate Santana; Heidi, Jeremy's girl friend and Cort's daughter

f. Detective Selena Alvarez's family includes - mother Juanita; Five brothers (Estevan, Eduardo, , , , ) & two sisters (Lidya & ); She shows interest towards Sheriff Grayson.

g. Nate Santana works for Brady Long, the richest man in Pinewood County.

h. Others we meet: Grace Perchant (who talks to spirits and found Jillian's car); Ivor Hicks (claims to be abducted by the aliens in the seventies, found the body of Wendy Ito); Henry Johansen (claims to hear others thoughts); Bob Simms (who finds Wendy's car); Sandi (owner & waitress at Wild Wills); Gordon Hobbs, an unconventional materials artist; 

3. Grammatical / Character / Location / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 133, Line 9, shouldn’t it be "…But there were slippery…"

b. On Pg. 293, it was clear that Jillian and Zane exchange a very passionate kiss apart from a chaste kiss he gives her a few chapters earlier. But On Pg. 369, she has Jillian remember only the chaste kiss as opposed the passionate one. Did she have Jillian forget the passionate one in the wake of the trauma she goes through? Or did Lisa make a mistake?


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