Kristi Bentz has survived a serial killer twice, but will she be lucky a third time? She's re-enrolled at trendy university All Saints, where lately co-eds have had a habit of going missing. She wants to be a true-crime writer, and figures digging into this story is the perfect way to start out. The room she rents also just happens to be the former room of one of the girls who has gone missing! Distracting her from her mission is ex-lover Jay McBride, who conveniently happens to be filling in as a lecturer in one of her classes. He has links to the police, which can only be beneficial.
Another student - Lucretia - who was Kristi's roommate when she first attended the university, comes to her with news that there is some sort of cult on campus. Many girls are a part of it - including those who have now disappeared. Since the missing girls are considered runaways, with families who care little about them, the police aren't interested in any connections between them or any supposed illicit shenanigans at the college. Still in love with Kristi, Jay agrees to help her figure out the truth.
I read "Lost Souls" a little while ago, but thought it would be the decent thing to do to review it, since it wasn't too bad, and I so thoroughly trashed "Almost Dead" and "Left To Die". Yes, like most of Jackson's novels, it features an anonymous killer who is finely muscled and likes to do everything in the nude, with female victims that typically find themselves waking up naked and at the killer's mercy. Once again, there is the continued, seemingly pathological overuse of the word "damn". I don't know why it bothers me so much, but could she PLEASE expand her vocabulary, especially when it comes to the use of adjectives? That aside, "Lost Souls" is a surprisingly decent thriller, with plenty of suspects, all with a motive. There are a couple of plot twists that are well done, too. The romance between Jay and Kristi feels like it's there because it has to be, and their dismissal of the consequences of a student and faculty member hooking up is glossed over with lame justifications you typically wouldn't expect from supposedly intelligent people. However, Jackson manages to achieve a nice balance between the thriller elements and the standard "I have no time to be falling in love with so-and-so" internal monologues Jay and Kristi frequently indulge in. As for Kristi, I liked the character, but found it hard to believe that she was supposed to be twenty-seven-years old. She behaves like she's just turned eighteen, and she's disappointingly passive in the book's finale.
Lastly, just to demonstrate why "Left To Die" was such manipulative garbage, "Lost Souls" ends with a cliffhanger, but one that doesn't cheat the reader. In the epilogue, Kristi's father John has a vision of his dead first wife. It doesn't affect the story we've just read, but certainly garners interest in his story, to obviously be continued in another book. There's a difference between a cliffhanger and an out-and-out cheat, and I think Jackson knows that difference. Which makes her and the publisher's cash-grab in "Left To Die" even more inexcusable. Just check out Amazon's reviews of "Left To Die" to see how many of her fans have vowed to not only never buy the follow-up, but never buy another book by her again!