Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Close Enough To Kill" by Beverly Barton

This is another one of those romantic suspense novels where the lead characters spend as much time thinking lustful thoughts about each other as they do hunting a serial killer. The culprits this time around are Sheriff Bernadette "Bernie" Granger and her new deputy Jim Norton, who was once a big-time football player. She had a big crush on him when she was a teenager, so she tries to keep her feelings in check whenever he's around. As for him, he's taken the job to be closer to his son, whose mother has spent a lot of energy on keeping the two apart. Although a lot of effort is spent on establishing that Bernie is a plain woman, Jim slowly develops feelings of attraction toward her (despite taking a couple of cracks at her sister first - what a guy!)

Oh yeah, and they're hunting a serial killer. He's called The Secret Admirer, as he first seduces his prey with innocent notes and gifts. Then he proceeds to send them kinky S&M sketches, before kidnapping, raping, torturing and murdering them. Quite a few women become victims, and the finger points at all the handsome, eligible bachelors in the town. I figured the killer the moment he was introduced. I kept thinking: "Oh come on, it really can't be that obvious! I'm not THAT clever!" Seriously, the killer's identity was meant to be a surprise?

"Close Enough To Kill" works fine on a trashy level. There's lots of sex, rape and death to keep you occupied, all delivered with a complete lack of class. The writer has a curiously blunt approach to her descriptions. My favourites were: "After raping her in the anus with a wooden phallus..." and "Damn, what a pair of tits!", the latter being Jim's internal response when he finally gets Bernie out of her bra. But to be fair, Barton generates at least a little suspense in the sequences where the women are being initially stalked - one woman's car breaks down, and another woman is nabbed despite having police protection.

Fairly indistinguishable from much of the genre's output, and I doubt romance readers are going to appreciate Barton's unimaginative, crass descriptions of rape and murder.

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