Author: T. R. Ragan
Published on: June 18, 2013
Genre: Mystery, suspense
Published by: Thomas & Mercer
Format: E-book, paperback, Audible
A serial killer is terrorizing Sacramento, preying on happily married couples and unleashing unspeakable cruelties upon his victims. The ordeal rekindles disturbing memories for private investigator Lizzy Gardner, who barely escaped a serial killer clutches only years ago. But while most Sacramento residents are hiding in the shadows, paralyzed by fear, Lizzy is compelled to go after the Lovebird Killer. So it no surprise that, when a routine workers- compensation case suddenly leads her and her two young assistants onto the killer trail, she welcomes the chase, determined to bring him to justice before he can claim another victim. She never imagines he could be two steps ahead, watching her every move and plotting his bloodiest, most triumphant conquest of all.
I think A Dark Mind is a great third entry in T. R. Ragan’s mystery/thriller Lizzy Gardner series. The titular character is back and fitter than ever after her enrollment in a fitness program during the events of Dead Weight. It’s good to see that Lizzy’s finally realized that self-defense is most effective when coupled with a strong body. Not to mention she’s also given up her “beloved” Rice Krispies Treats. 😛
Lizzy’s latest case involves an investigation into a bunch of murders thought to be the work of a serial killer dubbed the Lovebird Killer. At first, it seems like he’s your typical serial killer. You know he’s highly dangerous, but you assume he’ll eventually make a mistake. Not this one. Lizzy has just met her strongest foe since Spiderman (read Abducted if you don’t know who he is). Aiding in the investigation is the FBI, and by extension Lizzy’s boyfriend, special agent Jared Shayne. I feel readers don’t get to know him as well as they get to know Lizzy in the previous two books of the series (at least, I didn’t). This time around, we see more of Jared. Lizzy has just moved to his house, but she’s struggling with the unfamiliar surroundings. She is a creature of habit, used to having her stuff and surroundings the way she likes.
The Lovebird Killer is an interesting villain. I wasn’t able to figure out his identity until just before Lizzy did. It was because the novel shows some of the couples the Lovebird Killer targets, and one of them is confusing…but if I say more, I might spoil it. Anyway, the people investigating the case assume that the Lovebird Killer targets couples because they have something he really wants–true love–, and he feels that if he can’t have that, then no one can. Readers get to learn much about the LK through his present deeds and his early life. He proves to be extremely hard to catch. When Lizzy meets a man who claims to know the LK’s identity, she’s the only person who believes him. The LK is very cunning and seriously overconfident, thinking himself uncatchable. He also looks up to other serial killers, especially Spiderman, the one who made Lizzy who she is today. The LK is curious and puzzled about how she managed to take Spiderman down. As Lizzy makes it her mission to catch the Lovebird Killer, he decides to take the challenge and put her in her place. Her ‘nosy’ behavior rattles his cage.
“ The world’s fascination with evil was understandable…Not only were destroyers of life charming, they were intelligent…difficult to distinguish from anyone else. ”
Another character who returns in A Dark Mind is Hayley Hansen, one of Lizzy’s assistants. She was sent to juvenile after taking revenge on the man who wrecked her life. Hayley is released, but on the condition that she has to wear an ankle monitor that’ll restrict her freedom. Unsurprisingly, she soon finds a solution to cheat the monitor. Hayley is an interesting character. She’s said to be really smart, but she’s very reserved and hardened. Hayley also doesn’t form relationships easily. This girl is not to be trifled with. Even the Lovebird Killer is afraid of Hayley! Mild spoiler ahead: Don’t forget that she bravely confronted Spiderman in Abducted. However, for a character on the side of the good guys, Hayley has quite a bit of darkness in her soul. It’s unknown whether Hayley will remain good. The Lovebird Killer accuses Lizzy of being a “ticking time bomb waiting to explode and lose it,” but I feel that statement might apply to Hayley a lot more.
Lizzy also has the help of her longtime assistant, Jessica Pleiss. She’s quite more naive, no-nonsense, and self-righteous than Hayley. Jessica aspires to become an FBI profiler, though she’s getting a lot of field work being Lizzy’s employee. Aware of the dangers of the job (Jess has already been shot and kidnapped), Lizzy decides to fire her for her own good, but Jessica resigns before she can be fired. There are no hard feelings after this. Jessica already needed to resign because of school commitments and the career she’s pursuing.
I really enjoy this series. Mysteries/thrillers featuring private investigators are among my favorite kind of books. The covers are also well designed. I was going to deduct a star because the design/typesetting isn’t as well done as the first two books in the series. I have them all on my Kindle, and when I change the default font, the header remains the same in the other two books, but the header in this one changes. It’s a minor flaw not likely to really annoy anyone, plus I found A Dark Mind to be better than its predecessors, so it doesn’t really merit a star off. The mystery was top notch, although some of the stuff was confusing. Nevertheless, this is a marvelous entry in the Lizzy Gardner series. The Lovebird Killer is also the most intriguing and dangerous villain that Lizzy and co. have faced.
A stunning page turner!
BUY THE BOOK