Running away isn’t necessarily the answer.
In her mad rush to escape a failed marriage, Sara Woods takes the first job available and lands in the middle of a mystery. Her first assignment as a news reporter for the Ralston Courier is the investigation of a string of deaths, all young women, all her age.
She becomes a patient at the Goldstone Clinic, a local mecca of healing, to deal with chronic pain from her past. But all is not as it seems at the Goldstone, its doctors and nurses are all the picture of perfect beauty and health. Patients at the clinic first seem to get better, then they deteriorate. Sara enlists the help of Dr. Rick Paulsen, who teaches her how to access her internal power, skills she never knew she had, revealing secrets from her past. Police officer Brendon Zale also takes an interest in Sara, but he acts like a stalker, watching her every move, and he won't leave her alone.
As she digs deeper into the story, and more young women die without explanation, she tries to choose allies wisely, but not till the last confrontation does she discover the identity of her true enemy.
By then, it’s too late.
Of all the corpses I’d seen in six years as a news reporter, Lily Kimball’s hit me the hardest. Found in a drainage ditch along Route 24, two inches deep in snow, she wore only a shabby pair of Banana Republic jeans and a red jersey shirt, a dried clot of blood on her forehead where she’d taken a header into a discarded bottle.In the half-light before dawn, two CSI-types crouched in front of the body taking pictures and samples, thick parka vests protecting them against the thirty degree early March chill. Each breath left their cold lips as a mist of water vapor. “Damnedest thing I ever saw,” the lead investigator said to the waiting medic from the volunteer ambulance service, “Why the hell would some girl be out here in the middle of a snowstorm without shoes, without a coat?”Good question as far as I was concerned. I was freezing my butt off, despite a hoodie under my jacket, black sweat pants and fur-lined boots. I couldn’t return to the office until I had some answers. So far, all I had was her name, thanks to the CSI techs .No evidence of blunt trauma, no gunshots, no bruising—it didn’t even look like the girl had been tossed out of a car. I angled my pad to catch the headlights of the cop car and scribbled some notes, numb fingers slipping on the pen. “Your tech pulled a bank debit card from her pocket. Maybe she needed cigarettes or something.” I gestured toward the lights of the 7-Eleven a mile or so further along where the road intersected with Declan Highway.The officer’s glare roasted his techs for sharing information, then he eyed me. “Who’re you again?”“Sara Woods, for the Ralston Courier.” I tilted my laminated badge so he could read it.He squinted at the black and white picture of a pixie-like brunette with a slightly crooked smile, then compared it to my pixie-like face, much more florid in the wintry wind. I tried for the smile, too, in case it helped. “New blood, huh?”“Just started. I’m covering for O’Neal this weekend.”The officer chuckled. “He’ll be pissed. He loves dead bodies.” The medic snickered along with him and they walked away, back to the running patrol car. The heated, running patrol car.With a disappointed shiver, I observed the techs. They hadn’t disturbed the body much, other than to rule out major trauma. Lily’s skin was icy white, her black hair patchy, so thin it lay atop the snow. Bony stick fingers and toes were dark red, almost violet, from frostbite at the bare tips. It seemed like she’d just fallen over into the ditch. Just let go, dead.Satisfied with their photos, the techs turned over the stiff body. The girl’s pale, sightless eyes stared into the gray miasma of the late winter sky. Nausea crept from my stomach toward my throat. She had to be about my age, twenty-something; about my size too, although those fingers were wickedly thin. What would have compelled me to leave home in a blizzard, half-dressed, ending in a frozen ditch with my life sucked out?I didn’t know what could cause such desperation. But the goosebumps that rippled across my skin told me it was still out there, lurking.
LOVE ME, KISS ME, KILL ME surprised me on a number of different levels. In particular, the quality of the actual writing far transcends both the catchiness of the book description and the wow-factor of the cover. Lyndi Alexander employs strong prose to create a really interesting psychological thriller. Her style is clear and direct, utilizing the elements of showing versus telling.
First person is not my favorite style. I usually find it to be intrusive but the author handles it so deftly that I didn't have any issues with remaining in the story. The descriptiveness is wonderfully vivid and allowed me to easily imagine the scenes playing out in my mind.
Initially, I thought I was reading a murder mystery as reporter Sara Woods investigates the strange deaths of several young women about town. I certainly didn't expect it to contain supernatural elements but those are indeed introduced fairly swiftly and in interesting ways.
As the story progresses, there are lots and lots of things going on. Sara deals with a handsome ER doctor who might be crazy, an attractive young police officer who might be stalking her, odd coworkers who might harbor sinister designs. More women are being murdered and questions arise concerning a mysterious alternative medicine clinic. There author definitely keeps the reader guessing.
I found characterization to be credible and complex. Dialogue sounds genuine as did interactions among groups of people. The cast is fairly large and there were moments when I got characters confused, leaving me flipping back to earlier sections of the story to address the who's who question.
Sara is smart and sassy, prickly at times, but definitely a sympathetic heroine. Early on it becomes clear that the heroine has two potential romantic interests although the book has far more focus on action and suspense than entanglements of the heart.
Plenty of external conflict keeps the plot moving along at a quick, steady clip. I never got bored and I found the Goldstone villains to be plenty creepy. LOVE ME, KISS ME, KILL ME is a riveting suspense thriller with supernatural themes. Fans of the genre will very much enjoy this novel.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
About the author:
Learn more about Lyndia Alexander at her website.
Learn more about Lyndia Alexander at her website.