Adrianna Barrington’s world spins out of control just
months after her marriage to Craig Thornton. When a drunk driver
broadsides their car, Adrianna loses her unborn child. To make
matters worse, Craig suffers irreparable brain damage and lingers
in a coma for two years until his death, leaving Adrianna with a
broken heart and a mountain of bills.
After Craig’s death, Adrianna decides to sell the Thornton
estate and use the proceeds of the sale to create a neonatal unit
at a local hospital and pay off her staggering debt. The
Thorntons’ brick antebellum Virginia home, called “The
Colonies,” predates the Civil War and is located on 20 acres
of prime riverfront property. The news of her decision to sell the
estate is not well received, especially by historians who revere
the property and its rich past.
As part of the sale agreement, the buyer insists the family
graveyard be removed. Dr. Cyril Heckman, a friend of
Adrianna’s late mother-in-law, files a motion to stop the
sale. When workers arrive to remove the remains, Dr. Heckman shows
up carrying a “Save our Dead” sign to protest the
destruction of the graveyard. Despite the protest, digging
While the workmen survey the property to locate all the graves,
they uncover a human skull near the river. The skull and remains
are identified as belonging to Rhonda Minor, a woman who once
worked for Craig --- and who disappeared without a trace. And
Rhonda isn’t the only missing woman linked to Craig whose
remains are discovered buried on the Thornton estate. Could
Adrianna have misjudged her husband all along? Could Craig have
tortured and murdered the women and buried them on the family
Detective Gage Hudson, a cop for more than a decade, is called
to the Thornton estate to investigate who is behind the murders.
Gage is a former professional quarterback who left a promising
career to become a police officer after his younger sister was
abducted and raped. Missing persons cases are Gage’s
specialty, and he has strong feelings about this one, but his
former romantic link to Adrianna complicates his investigation.
In the midst of the murder and mayhem, Adrianna does her
best to cope with her secretive and manipulative mother.
She also seeks the truth about the facts surrounding her
adoption while trying to sort out her feelings for a recently
discovered sister who wants to build a relationship with her.
When Adrianna begins to receive cards and flowers from someone
claiming to be her late husband, she first gets angry at the cruel
joke, but she soon becomes terrified at the thought of someone
stalking her. As the investigation deepens, another woman connected
to Craig disappears, Gage and Adrianna’s past romantic ties
rekindle, and in the shadows someone watches…and waits.
DYING SCREAM is an absorbing thriller, ripe with twists and
turns. It has all the ingredients of an engaging story: an
intriguing setting, compelling characters, rich details, dark
secrets and plenty of surprises. Mary Burton does an admirable job
of using her characters to help the reader understand the
forensics evidence without getting overly graphic or grisly with
specifics. To complete the package, the novel’s romantic
overtones heighten the drama and ratchet up the suspense. DYING
SCREAM is a well-thought-out and satisfying read.
Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on February 24, 2011