Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Riveting Followup Novel, Her Dying Breath, to Slaughter Creek Series by Rita Herron!

English: Youths playing the Red Rover game.
 Youths playing the Red Rover game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Red Rover, Red Rover
Send Seven right over...
"The image of Jim Logger's eyes bulging as he drew his last breath taunted her. The Commander had looked into
her eyes and watched her die so many times, only to revive her.
"To make her suffer and die again.
"Her laughter pierced the air.
"Now it was his turn to suffer..."
"The first time I died, I was only five years old. I remember seeing rainbows and carousels and the golden wings of an angel dancing in the wind, ready to sweep me to the heavens and save me from the monster who cased me through the endless dark forest of child-eating trees.
"But then he was there again, blotting out the angels, and the darkness came. The minutes that bled into hours. Hours where I fought for my life. Hours where the carousels turned into evil beings with dragons' wings, with fangs and claws that reached for me and twisted my neck until it snapped.
"I didn't want to die. But I had no control. The Commander would kill me over and over again. All while the piano music played in the background, as if Mozart's music could soote me as I took my last breath.
"It was a game, he said. A test of wills. A regiment to make me strong. Even then, when I  begged for him to send me to my grave, he didn't.
"Because he liked to listen to my dying breath rasp out. He said it brought him pleasure...
Her Dying Breath

By Rita Herron

This novel is a sequel to Dying to Tell, an exciting Debut! I was happy to see the Vine offering this next part of the story which, according to the ARC will be followed with Worth Dying For. This series is grounded on a past government-sponsored experiment in a little town called Slaughter Creek. There they had chosen children that had gone through a local clinic and were placed in a sanitarium. and tortured, hoping to erase emotions in future soldiers... It was said that these types of tactics were being taken in other countries and the U.S. had to be...prepared... Of course, they didn't tell any of the parents of those children that they were "giving it all" for their country...

When I read a book like this, it becomes necessary for me to dwell on the mystery and the suspense--the violence is horrendous, so beware... Herron does a good job in showing that not even the sons of the man who conducted the research could tolerate their father. Both of them had been abused and this novel includes more about family members, finding, for instance, that he had murdered his wife...

Jake and Nick Blackwood are both law officers now--Jake is the town sheriff and Nick is a special agent... They are both back in town because their father has been arrested--after many years of being thought dead!
Of course, the whole town is back on alert. There are still those who were involved and or affected! Jake's wife and sister-in-law are two of those individuals. Amelia had walked out of the Sanitarium when she learned that Commander Blackwood was still alive. She had been...number 3...

None of the children retained their names--they were given numbers. They had identified five of the children who had been taken, each having experienced different types of torture... Amelia now used art to try to share those times with others--some of the pictures revealed more than most people would or could look at or study...

Two others heard that the Commander had been arrested. They escaped from where they had been held, burning the buildings as they left...

They were 6 and 7...

"There once was a child with a mind
Till he stole it from her for all time
Then they played Red Rover
And he said, "Come over"
And she crossed the line to the dark side."

The Commander had called for Nick to visit him, saying that a message--a limerick--had come to him in the mail... He was merely passing it on. He assumed it was from one of the CHIMES Children...

Of course, the Commander knew who it was. One of his favorites must have escaped... 

And it was 7 with whom he'd played Red Rover...

Brenda Banks had received her job as an Investigative Reporter based upon her work on the CHIMES case.

She was anxious to learn more about the Commander's capture, but she never expected to be contacted by 7:
"Tell the Commander I left a present for him.
Slaughter Creek Motel. Room 7"

Why would this individual contact her? She knew she had to get in touch with the police and her editor...but she wasn't going to be the brunt of heckling if there was nothing there... What exactly would she find?

She had, of course, seen pictures of how a wire was used as a garrote, but never someone dead by garroting!

"Heart racing, she flipped on the lamp, then gasped in horror. A naked man lay on the bed, his arms and legs tied to the post. His face and neck were discolored, and a piece of wire was wound around his throat. But it was the wide-eyed terror in his unblinking eyes that would haunt her forever.
"He hadn't died in his sleep or by his own hand. He had been murdered..."
More than once... according to the ME, he had died and then been resuscitated, only to be strangled again... Behind his ear they found a "1"...
"There once was a girl who cried
Then she died and she died and she died
But no one came
Cause they called her insane
So she lied and she lied and she lied..."

Brenda and Nick had been attracted to each other since they had been in school together. Brenda had once dated Jake, but only as a friend. Of course Nick didn't know that and he didn't want to be second to his brother. So an interesting side plot is the romantic tension between these two. Brenda was out for the story and 7 was contacting her, for whatever reasons, so Nick had accepted her involvement on the understanding that she wouldn't write anything he didn't approve. But Brenda was there with her cameraman, to announce the death at the Slaughter Creek Motel...

And the one in the woods...

And then, a man she had just met through her parents...

That murder forced a higher profile and the parents of the man she'd just met blamed her, believing that he must have been with her that night...

But she had been home recuperating--somebody had tried to kill her on a road the night before!

Nick was having a terrible time because he wanted to be with Brenda to protect her... In the meantime, the police had found a burned out facility with a dead body... Then as they tracked a lead, another body...

Readers know who is doing some of the killings. It's the why, who, when and how that keeps us in suspense. And Brenda is keeping a secret that she hasn't been willing to share with Nick, even though he has discovered it already. Which only meant to him that she didn't trust him.... How could he trust her?

The final conclusion, though, was "almost" a surprise because it could have gone several ways. For me, it resulted in a fairly certain action somewhere in the first part of the next book! Another situation was also set up for the next book. hopefully it will work out better than it could... 6 and 3 will never equal 9...
If you read the first book, this one's a must-read! If you haven't read it, I recommend you start with the first book in the series and then onward!

This is a Thriller that Keeps you totally on Edge!


Award-winning author Rita Herron fell in love with books at the ripe age of eight when she read her first Trixie Belden mystery. Although she wanted to be a writer then and actually scrawled her first novel at age twelve, she didn’t think real people grew up to be writers, so she became a kindergarten teacher instead. Ten years ago, she traded her classroom storytelling and puppets for a computer and now writes so she doesn’t have to get a real job.
Having sold over fifty books to date, she enjoys spinning spine-tingling romantic suspense tales filled with murder, mayhem, and spicy romance as well as sexy romantic comedies. Rita Herron currently writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue and she’s writing dark, gritty romantic suspense thrillers for Amazon Montlake.
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