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The Dying Game

Review

The Dying Game

"Blonde, brunette, redhead" easily could be the thoughts of any
hot-blooded male hungrily eyeing a room full of beautiful women in
search of a one-night stand. It also could be the thoughts of the
judges searching for the winner of a beauty contest. But New
York Times
bestselling author Beverly Barton creates a macabre
dying game where former beauty queen blondes are worth 15 points,
brunettes are worth 10 points and the coveted rare redhead is worth
20 points.

A scene of sheer terror and brutality rivets the reader's attention
in the prologue to THE DYING GAME. The pure horror of the scene,
helplessness of the victim and heartbreak of Judd Walker hugging
his beautiful wife Jennifer --- now handless --- draw the audience
further along the game board to the next killing. Murder after
murder, the victim's lover or husband finds the gruesome remains
--- body parts savagely chopped off, a rose always left by the
killer --- adding to the emotional roller coaster of reading this
book.

The Dying Game is no "game" to the still-beautiful women who are
carefully selected for death by the serial murderer. The
perpetrator is cleverly disguised and convincing enough to entice
each former beauty queen to trust him. Who would believe him to be
an eccentric millionaire who grew up in the lap of luxury, drives a
Bentley and attends cocktail parties with Griffin Powell, one of
his pursuers?

Even though the FBI and a team of private investigators, led by
Griffin, are on the trail of the "Beauty Queen Killer," he gets
away with slaughtering multiple women over a five-year period.
"Killing was like a massive shot of adrenaline." His sick thoughts
reveal, "With each kill, the act itself had become easier, and
eventually, he had begun to enjoy hearing their screams." Part of
the "game" includes taking a picture of the victim's mutilated body
and framing it next to her photo as a contest winner. The dichotomy
of beauty and brutality displayed in a secret gallery of "pretty
little flowers" in the killer's home intensifies his savagery. "The
photos would allow him to enjoy this moment over and over
again."

The twists and turns and brutality of victims with limbs chopped
off by the killer will keep you awake and fearful. Thankfully,
there is a prevalent romantic entanglement between Judd Walker and
Lindsay McAllister. THE DYING GAME begins with the most recent
murder and the memory of one of the first beauty queens to be
slain, Jennifer Walker. Lindsay is a rookie detective who is
present when a crying Judd is holding his wife's brutally murdered
body. Four years later, Judd is still a broken man, consumed with
grief and a recluse who has drowned his sorrows in alcohol for far
too long. Lindsay is focused on finding the Beauty Queen Killer and
teams up with Judd and Griffin. Once the two most eligible
bachelors in Chattanooga, the men use all their resources to locate
the culprit. We are given a brief glimpse into Griffin's resources,
his relationship with FBI agent Nic Baxter and psychic associate
Yvette Meng.

Lindsay is hopelessly in love with Judd, even though he still
mourns his wife. Judd's unbearable grief leaves him incapable of
"human emotions, other than hatred and revenge," but Lindsay tries
to help him face his demons and accept her love.

THE DYING GAME is gruesome, gory, gutsy --- and unlike any other
romantic suspense novel I have ever read. Barton takes a chance
writing graphic scenes for a mostly female audience, but she
masterfully weaves steamy romance and raw intensity to keep the
reader looking forward to the next love scene or sexy banter.

Reviewed by Hillary Wagy on January 21, 2011

The Dying Game
by Beverly Barton

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Romantic Suspense
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Zebra
  • ISBN-10: 0821776894
  • ISBN-13: 9780821776896