Saturday, August 10, 2013

Revenge (Faces of Evil #5) by Debra Webb

"I need your help, Jess. I think I'm about to be charged with murder."

One of the things that makes Deputy Chief Jess Harris good at her job is being able to read people and realizing what they're capable of doing. Realizing that if a person is pushed to their limits, even the most docile of us can be broken and retaliate in a way most would never believe. Knowing Frances as she did, Jess had no doubts as to her innocence. The seventy year old former school teacher, while still healthy and smart as a whip, is not the type to kill a man less than half her age. 

Scott Baker, a savvy business man with ties to Birmingham's oldest families, has been found murdered in his office by the office cleaning crew. He had no appointments scheduled and had for some reason turned off the security cameras. Prior to the cleaning crew finding him, however, Frances Wallace had come upon his body and immediately bee-lined it to Jess' house. You see, not that long ago, Frances had made a comment about Scott saying, "I hope to live long enough to see him eat those words and die." and most interpreted that to mean she wanted him dead.  

Now Jess needs to do what she does best when it comes to solving a case and attempt to, in her words, "Find the motive, find the answer" as to who killed him. 


When I was a little kid I used to love the game clue. 'Revenge' reminded me of that game, but it was ten times better. In a mystery, I enjoy trying to figure out things before they are revealed at the end. I loved that Jess has to figure out the who-what-and-where of it all. Plus, there are other ongoing story lines from the previous books that interweave all the books in this series together. To me, a good mystery series is a little like a 3-D puzzle. You start focusing on one the puzzle and just when you you've got it solved, you notice there are other sides and dimensions that the puzzle box never indicated. It's more complex then first suggested which makes it all the more difficult and satisfying when completed. For that reason, I would recommend you read the previous 4 books to the series, or you may feel you're missing out, and you will be. Parts of this story builds upon things found in the previous books--working up to what I can only imagine will be a dramatic and eventful end to the series, but hopefully not for a while.

Jess is very likeable because she's smart and hasn't lost herself in the darkness of her career and hasn't grown jaded even though she has every reason to. She's in the precarious position of still being the new kid on the block in the SPU (Special Problems Unit). A former FBI special agent, she's trying to make a go of her new career with the Birmingham police department. The fact she was once engaged to her boss, Police Chief Dan Burnette,  is not winning her any brownie points especially since the two seem to be having trouble keeping their hands off each other. Some of the old feelings are still there, and while they've tried to keep their relationship under the radar, people are starting to notice there's something going on between the two. Factor in that she played a part in screwing up a big case for Captain Ted Allen (at least in his eyes), who is now missing, and the loyalties toward her and confidence in her throughout the department are beginning to wane. Dan is determined not to make the mistake Jess' former husband did, by not backing her. He's got a second shot with her, and he's making sure he doesn't mess things up.

While all that is going on within her department, there are some loose ends from her former job with the FBI. Eric Spears, a serial killer dubbed The Player, had set his sights on Jess but had slipped the Bureau's grasp. It appears Spears hasn't given up hope of finally including Jess among his victim count. While reportedly still out of the country, texts from the man suggest that may not be the case. He single handedly put her career in jeopardy causing her colleagues, including her then husband, to doubt her. From the texts Jess is getting from the deranged killer, it appears he knows what she's doing and must either be watching her or having watched by someone else. So while attempting to keep her sanity and wits about her, as well as solve her present case, she needs to be aware of the potential danger that might be lurking in the shadows around her.

While I was a little worried at the beginning that this would be a little like the movie 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' it truly wasn't. It became clear very quickly that something that happened twelve years ago was directly related to Scott Baker and 4 others, dubbed the Five, who were all part of a close knit group of friends. All were wealthy, with dreams of their future, and a little too full of themselves. While one individual becomes the main suspect, his involvement may not be as clear cut as it first appeared. While I had my suspicions, it wasn't until the last piece was put in place that I got a clear picture of what went on 12 years ago, how it related to the killings currently happening in Birmingham, and how each of those involved had been affected. 

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. A great blend of action, suspense, and mystery that kept me on my toes as I tried to solve the case before Jess did. The story kept me engaged and there was never a dull moment, there was too much going on. As there wasn't much romance in this one (Jess was too busy trying to solve the case and stay alive), I'm forgoing the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale for this one. 

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