Review update - Allison Brennan

by - 2/26/2006

As you can see from the nifty little sidebar graphic (of the flipping book covers), I've been reading a lot of interesting tales. Here is my take on some of them:

Let me start with Allison Brennan's "The Kill". This book is the culmination of a trilogy of sorts, the first two books being 'The Prey' and 'The Hunt'. Both were excellent books that catapulted Brennan into the coveted best-seller list. The third is on par with the general course of this series. Not for the faint-hearted, all three books have heroines who're either directly or indirectly victims of various forms of tragedy, violence and abuse at different times of their lives. Strong and yet vulnerable, they become friends while studying to become FBI agents, their painful past being the dominant motivating factor for their choice of careers. Here's my review of all three books.

In 'The Prey', ex-FBI agent turned best-selling author Rowan Smith gets the shock of her life when a real-life killer begins emulating her fictional kills in excruciatingly accurate detail. Tormented with guilt and painful questions, Rowan's life is thrown into further turmoil when her bodyguard falls in love with her, even as she's irresistibly drawn to his older brother. Terror, lust and rage permeate the pages, keeping readers stuck to the pages as they visualize a terrifying drama unfold. Who survives and how it all ends makes for a thrilling read.

In 'The Hunt', former FBI trainee turned search-and-rescue squad member, Miranda Moore relives the agony of her own abduction, rape and torture as her tormentor known only as 'The Bozeman Butcher' is back continuing his foul deeds. As the only surviving victim, Miranda's determination to capture this madman sends her rushing headlong into danger, something that her ex-FBI lover and ex-Sheriff boyfriend together try to prevent even as events surge towards the inevitable do-or-die standoff.

In "The Kill", FBI scientist Olivia St. Martin is guilt-stricken when new DNA tests exonerate the man she'd testified against some thirty-odd years ago as being responsible for her sister's abduction and consequent rape and death. Working above and beyond the call of duty, she teams with a Seattle detective to capture the original rapist who's gone scot-free all these years and who's still very much active. Busy with her crusade, Olivia doesn't suspect that the man she'd had wrongfully convicted for the major part of his life is out for her blood as well.

After reading her books, I went in search of Allison Brennan's site and was surprised to see that in her bio she classifies her books as being 'Romantic Suspense'. It seems a very watered-down way of describing this powerful and emotion-filled trilogy. Her original description - "Stephen King meets Nora Roberts" - seems a much more befitting way of summarizing these stories. Horror, terror and pain are the dominating and motivating factors in the all three books, with determination and strength coming a close second.

The suspense in all three books remains constant, although I felt the romance factor decreased with the each succeeding book. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. In 'The Prey', the powerful love triangle added to the general tension. While in 'The Hunt', there's only a hint of a love triangle. However, the romantic tension between Miranda and one of her ex's is quite fiery and keeps things interesting. But in 'The Kill', the romance came about quite abruptly, didn't seem convincing and wasn't needed at all, in my opinion.

Besides a good mystery, a terrific build-up of tension and an all-prevailing, never-wracking aura of danger, what I really liked about these stories was the way Brennan took readers into the thinking and emotions of not just the protagonists, but the villains as well, some of who turn out to be the products and victims of abuse themselves. While Brennan's penchant for repetitive and detailed descriptions brings the pages to vivid life and hammers in the emotional upheaval, it also causes the plot to sag and the negative emotions to become so overwhelming, that at times it takes an effort to continue reading.

That said, the stories are overall greatly engrossing and unforgettable. Allison Brennan seems all set to follow in the footsteps of popular authors such as Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter and the like.

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