New Orleans police detective Rick Bentz has not had an easy go
of things. Not remotely. When last we saw the poor guy, he had been
crushed by a tree in a storm, his back broken, leaving him in a
coma and paralyzed. His daughter, Kristi, had nearly been killed
and is saddled with the ability to see when people are going to
die. His wife, Olivia, who once saw through the eyes of a killer,
hears her biological clock ticking and is eager for a child. And to
top it all off, Bentz feels he is being forced out of the
department since his accident and slow recovery.
Pressure? That would be enough to bury most men. But Bentz is
not most men. He needs a little more to push him to the edge of
breaking. Throw in the fact that he has begun to hallucinate,
seeing his first wife on more than one occasion, and he's nearly
there. After all, she's in Los Angeles. And she's dead.
Bentz is about to have his frenetic life jostled to the nth
degree when photos arrive showing Jennifer seemingly alive and well
in a California coffee house. More unnerving is the copy of her
death certificate enclosed with the pictures, a giant red question
mark emblazoned across its page.
Thus begins the quest of a mad man: Bentz heads back to Los
Angeles, a city where a failed marriage, broken relationships and a
less-than-glorious exit from the LAPD wait for him. The question:
Is Jennifer really dead? What ensues is a ghost hunt in a city of
ghosts, which grows all the more troublesome when a serial killer
from an unsolved case reawakens at the precise moment Bentz
With the release of MALICE, Lisa Jackson strikes a veritable
gold mine of psychological disturbance. Not only is her villain,
the Twenty-One Killer, a horrific creation, but the web of deceit
and despair in which Bentz and those around him become entangled
threatens to suffocate all of them.
MALICE is, to use an oft over-used cliché, a page-turner.
Jackson begins the novel with a panicked bang and never lets up,
propelling the reader through the story at terminal velocity right
up until the very last pages. Along the way, you will feel every
bit as unsure and confused as Bentz, not only as he endeavors to
learn the truth about his ex-wife but also as he comes to terms
with a murder he never solved and the return of the psychopath
Jackson has struck a chord with MALICE, one that will
reverberate well after the book has been closed. It is a tight,
intense thriller with a varied cast of characters that easily
becomes animated with her clear writing style. The only question
remaining: What will she possibly do to top herself next time?
Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on January 6, 2011