Review: A collaborative effort of sisters, Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush, Wicked Game wanders in its wickedness from a forensic cold case mystery to a steamy romance to a novel of the paranormal with touches of Stephen King.
For several of St. Elizabeth's alumni, their high school years in Portland weren't the happiest. For some there was bullying, for others rejection, and for 16-year-old seer, Rebecca "Becca" Sutcliff, now 34 years old and recently widowed, there was a miscarriage in an "accidental" auto wreck. For her 16-year-old friend and a fellow seer, Jezebel "Jessie" Brentwood, an adopted child with a reputation as a runaway, it was a time of murder – her own. Her death is described in gripping detail as her shadowy assailant stalks and viciously stabs her, mouthing incantations of hate. Now, twenty years later, an excavation on the St. Elizabeth's campus reveals the contents of a makeshift grave that brings out Sam "Mac" McNally, the detective originally assigned to Jessie's missing person's case. This time, however, he's got to deal with an annoying female partner as well as the same group of tight-knit, closed-mouthed friends of Jessie's from twenty years earlier, but now grown into middle aged victims of a grim reaper. On the other hand, Mac now has help from modern forensics, from Becca, who experiences visions of Jessie's spirit, and from another woman with psychic abilities, Renee Trudeau, a reporter and the twin sister of Becca's boyfriend, Hudson Walker, who has recently re-entered Becca's life. Mac needs all of the science he can muster, plus every benefit of Becca's and Renee's efforts as seers to divine what happened to Jessie. He also needs to learn who or what is now decimating the St. E. alumni and trying to kill Becca, her boyfriend, his sister, and an unborn child. There's lots of dirty linen for airing, too, what with the dark details about Jessie's family background as an adoptee, her sexually taunting ways, Mac's obsession with Jessie's death, the fatherhood of Becca's first child, Becca's connections to Jessie, Hudson and others, including psychic Mad Maddie, the surprising contents of the twenty-year-old gravesite, the intertwining intrigues, misdemeanours – even felonies - in the lives of the St. Elizabeth alumni, and the role that a mysterious cult called "Siren Song" has to play with the primary characters.
Although the novel needs tightening, several scenes grab and hold the reader's attention. The car crashes, for example, are as good as any, and a couple of stabbings are hair-raising. The love scenes are tender but eventually become predictable in their passionate outcomes. The characters are all credible, even Becca's pet pooch Ringo. Both the dialogue and the settings ring true, and the twisted mind of a villain is well-depicted in the dialogue interjected both before and after the perpetrator is revealed by the authors. From the Epilogue, it appears the demon has another mission to fulfill, and plans are already underway for the next steps in fulfilling it.
Special thanks to M. Wayne Cunningham (firstname.lastname@example.org) for contributing his review of Wicked Game.
Acknowledgment: Nancy Berland Public Relations provided a copy of Wicked Game for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — M. Wayne Cunningham — All Rights Reserved
Reprinted with Permission
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Chosen to Die
Zebra (Mass Market Paperback), July 2009
ISBN-13: 9781420102772; ISBN-10: 142010277X
Location(s) referenced in Wicked Game: Portland, Oregon
— ♦ —
Wicked Game by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: February 2009
List Price: $7.99