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    Review of KILLING TIME by Elise Title

    St. Martin's Minotaur, July 2002

    When prison superintendent Natalie Price's best friend is murdered, all the evidence points to one of the prisoners. Maggie had been teaching the prisoner and encouraging him. Yet Natalie doesn't want to believe that Dean could be a brutal killer--it would make her look like an idiot for allowing him extra priviliges, and strengthen the hand of those who oppose the release program she has made her career. Together with detective Leo Coscarelli, Natalie begins to investigate--and to uncover secrets she wishes she'd never learned. Maggie had been an unsatiable lover, and seems to have had a relationship with every man Natalie knows--all of whom become suspects. And the original case against Dean seems increasingly questionable. Could they be hunting an innocent man?

    Author Elise Title writes convincingly about the horrors of the prison system and its dehumanizing effect on its wards (and on its guards). I found her characters, however, less convincing. Natalie seems to go out of her way to put herself in danger. Even when she has no good reason to do so, she doesn't think of asking for backup. Although she soon suspects her deputy, Jack, she takes his word for a critical piece of evidence without checking--and lying to the detective in charge about where the evidence came from. Although Natalie accuses her estranged husband of thinking only of himself, the accusation could have been made against her. Such an unsympathetic protagonist makes KILLING TIME difficult to really enjoy. As Natalie throws herself into danger, it's too tempting to hope that maybe this time, she'll get what she deserves.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 9/18/02

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