Monday, October 19, 2009

Love You To Death - Shannon K. Butcher

Love You To Death
Shannon K. Butcher
Grand Central/Forever

Romantic Suspense/Thriller

Elise McBride is a freelance reporter. She has no fixed address and no idea where her next assignment will take her; she loves the freedom of her life. Her one tether is to her younger sister, Ashley. Ashley is a free spirit who lives in a world slightly different than the real world. She met her new neighbor, Trent, an ex-cop, when he entered her house to discover why her car had been running in the driveway for hours and her front door was open. Turns out, Ashley had an idea for a new art medium and that took all her attention.

When Elise doesn’t hear from Ashley by phone for several days, she knows something is wrong. Sure, Ashley has been known to skip town without a word or take a long weekend with her man-of-the-instant, but this is different. Elise’s solution is to fly from her assignment in Hong Kong to Ashley’s Chicago suburb and break into the house. Trent thinks someone is trying to rob his goofy neighbor and goes to investigate.

By the time the dust settles, Elise has enlisted Trent’s help in looking for her sister. Elise is one of those heroines without which the romantic suspense genre would curl up and die. She just knows she’s right, she expects everyone else to believe it, and she’ll blindly rush into dangerous situations with no thought for her own safety. It makes sense on some level, since Ashley sounds like she belongs somewhere on a mental-impairment spectrum, and Elise feels a deep sense of guilt over leaving her sister alone. But you’d think someone who travels the globe would have a bit more sense than this. Trent is of the tried-and-true hero mold of the ex-cop who’s carrying terrible emotional baggage. He lived for his job until he made a mistake, then spends the next few years blaming himself for it until a pretty girl shows up who needs help.

The most interesting scenes in the book concern the killer, who is delightfully creepy. His identity is disclosed to the reader almost immediately, and when bodies and body parts start showing up around Chicago, there’s no doubt about who’s to blame. Elise captures his attention with a televised plea for information about her sister, and he decides that he ‘needs’ Elise. The killer’s manner and methods are pretty unique and the author does readers the great favor of fleshing out the bad guy just as well as those who hunt him. Whether you find him fascinating, repellant, or both, he’s a character you won’t soon forget.

For my money, there were far too many scenes of Elise demanding to act instantly and Trent trying to caution her about safety and finally following her in order to protect her. Trent seems like a sincerely nice guy; a dedicated cop who honestly wants to help people and make sure that, even if something has happened to Ashley (I won’t spoil it here) that Elise not get hurt. The author writes in a style that is compulsively readable. Despite the quibbles above, I’d planned to read a couple of chapters before bed, and ended up more than halfway through the book before I put it down for the night. I had the ending figured out pretty early on, but the strength of the writing managed to pull me in and keep me there.

Rating: 7
October 2009
ISBN# 978-0-446-51029-5 (paperback)


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