Monday, September 5, 2011

DEAD EVEN by Mariah Stewart

Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: September 2004
ISBN: 978-0345463944
Romantic Suspense
Mass Market Paperback
Reviewed by Gina
Obtained via Self-purchase

The game between a wanna be killer, a killer and a serial killer continues in DEAD EVEN as the last of the killers steps up to play out his agreed assassination. Archer Lowell isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but he’s smart enough to know with one of the players dead and the other back behind bars, he needs to walk away. The man behind bars, however, is determined that Archer will play out his part and put an end to the lives of an old man, a famous author and a FBI agent who crossed the wrong man’s path.

Agent Miranda Cahill has avoided any kind of serious relation and she’s got her reasons for doing so. She’s especially avoided connecting with fellow agent Will Fletcher. Actually Will annoys her no end. The man is never wrong. That, however, could be a bigger problem than mere annoyance if he’s right and Miranda is among the killer’s targets. As they struggle to keep a step ahead of Archer, they also find themselves involved in Mara Douglas (DEAD WRONG)’s search for her daughter. When the two crimes intersect there is little chance Miranda will walk away unscathed. From the rural streets of her home to a cult’s hidden camp Miranda also finds herself confronting the special demons of her past.

DEAD EVEN is the third book in Mariah Stewart’s “Dead” series and continues the search for Mara’s missing daughter while drawing the reader into a hard to put down romantic suspense. I completely understood and related to Miranda’s annoyance at Will. At least he wasn’t quite so smug about his ability to remember the slightest detail. But like Miranda, he grew on me and when he opens his heart and tells her what is really going on with him and what he wants I couldn’t help but fall in love with the character. Ms. Stewart teases her readers in the earlier Dead books with glimpses into Will’s character and seeing him in his own story made for a really good read.

Ms. Stewart’s continued growth in the genre is clear as well. She doesn’t pull any punches when a character is killed and at the same time she tells a story that needs to be told. At first I wondered why certain elements of Mara’s daughter’s story were included but with the explosive ending all became clear. The twist she leaves you with at the end makes you want to hurry up and snag the next book in the series.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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