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    Review of THE KILLING HOUR by Lisa Gardner (see her website)

    Bantam Books, July 2003

    FBI New Agent Kimberly Quincy is living her dream. In an attempt to put the murder of her mother and sister behind her, she's training to be an FBI agent. But when she discovers a body in the FBI training facility, she's reminded of her sister's death. All of a sudden, she doesn't care about the FBI or anything else. She wants to find the killer. It doesn't hurt that the lead investigator in the case is hunky Georgia cop Mac McCormack.

    The serial killer has a pattern--he kidnaps two young women, murders one and uses her body as a map to the second. The second he leaves alive--but in an exposed location where she'll die if the police don't react in time. In three previous events, the police had been on time only once. But now, the killer has raised the stakes. Since the police 'won' the game last time, he'll make it even more challenging for them.

    Author Lisa Gardner writes an intense and emotionally involving story. Serial killers are weirdly fascinating and the ticking clock of the second victim adds to the novel's emotional punch. Setting up Kimberly as a survivor brings the killings close for her and for the reader. Gardner cuts between scenes involving Kimberly and Mac, scenes with the still surviving victim, scenes from the killers point of view, and scenes where Kimberly's FBI agent-father and his lover also try to solve the mystery. Of these, only the father/lover fell short of being emotionally gripping and exciting.

    Although THE KILLING HOUR is a thriller, it does contain a strong dose of romance--between Mac and Kimberly and between Kimberly's father and his lover. From a story perspective, contrasting life-affirming love and murder makes sense. Gardner walked the line carefully between overwhelming the plot with romance and, except for one scene with dad, did the job.

    Gardner's strong writing kept me fully involved in the story, hoping for victim Tina, and intrigued by the killer's motivation and background. I couldn't put this one down and recommend it to anyone who likes woman-driven thrillers.

    See more reviews of novels by Lisa Gardner.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 3/01/04

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