Author: T. R. Ragan
Published on: February 3, 2015
Genre: Mystery, suspense
Published by: Thomas & Mercer
Format: E-book, paperback, Audible
Life for private investigator Lizzy Gardner will never be the same. It’s been three weeks since her fiancé, Jared, was shot on what was supposed to be their wedding day. He’s in a coma now, and Lizzy is being forced to make a decision she might not be able to live with.
But a string of deaths has forced her to get back to work. While they appear to be unrelated accidents at first glance, a closer look shows they all have something in common. More than a decade earlier, the victims were all members of the Ambassador Club at a Sacramento high school: a posh posse that bullied other students, one of whom remains tormented years later.
In this pulse-pounding thriller from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author T.R. Ragan, Lizzy will need her colleagues and what’s left of her wits to help her track down a cunning killer with a deadly revenge list before the next name—maybe hers—is crossed off for good.
After the huge cliffhanger in Obsessed, it’s great to finally have the sequel! I was itching to find out what happened next. If you haven’t read the previous books, I strongly recommend that you do. I’ll try not to include spoilers in this review, although it’s sort of inevitable. I’ll warn you before I get to them.
A few months have passed since the previous book. Lizzy Gardner has pretty much gone into zombie mode after what should have been the happiest day of her life. She now lives for her work. Speaking about living, Lizzy has been staying at her sister Cathy Warner’s house. This doesn’t last for long, due to Lizzy’s animosity toward Cathy’s douche of a husband. Kitally invites Lizzy to stay at the former’s spacious house so Lizzy doesn’t have to spend money on rent.
Saying this is the lowest time in Lizzy’s life would be an understatement. She hasn’t been worse off since her abduction by the notorious serial killer Spiderman. I really don’t know how Lizzy is handling yet another crippling blow. Lizzy is so distraught that her work ethic is beginning to slide. For instance, she doesn’t work on infidelity cases, yet Lizzy is taking almost whatever case lands at her office lately. She’s been drawing up contracts without much of a thought. Lizzy’s sidekick, Hayley Hansen, wants to have a serious talk with her about it.
Hayley appears to be on a straighter route this time around (or as straight as she can get). I’m saying this because Hayley isn’t above taking justice into her own hands. She is some sort of vigilante now, preying on society’s filthiest. By now, Hayley’s confronted her own share of serial killers. Heck, even the Lovebird Killer (from A Dark Mind) was afraid of her! Hayley is not someone you’d want to mess with. She’s easily the most dangerous of Lizzy’s acquaintances. Hayley’s past is almost as dark as her boss’s. I find it surprising that Hayley hasn’t turned into a criminal for Lizzy to chase. She’s a strong, strong girl. Despite Hayley’s dark character, she still has plenty of morals left.
Kitally is also back again as Lizzy’s second assistant. She replaced Jessica Pleiss, who is almost a full-fledged FBI agent now. Having Kitally around is a huge help, as Lizzy’s investigation agency is practically drowning in cases. There are a handful of interesting ones throughout the book. One of them puts Kitally in pretty serious danger. I think she should have been harder to get the drop on. Kitally strikes me as dangerous as Hayley. The book does reveal that Kitally is perhaps the most intelligent character in the series (on par with or surpassing that of the main villain). Kitally’s family is also significantly wealthy. That means Kitally doesn’t have to work, but she enjoys handling cases for Lizzy.
We meet the book’s main villain during the first chapters. However, Lizzy and co. don’t catch wind about her until around a third of the way through the book. Almost Dead makes no mystery of who this woman is, so I don’t consider it a spoiler to mention her name. She’s Jenny Pickett, a super-smart chemist. Jenny is sort of your typical nerd: a socially inept recluse slash doormat. Jenny has few friends, and she often gets picked on by people. This has diminished by now, as she’s an adult. Adults don’t pick on each other like youngsters do. Anyway, Jenny has gotten tired of being disrespected. After a botched relationship (which she grossly overestimated), Jenny decides that no one will mess with her again. Standing up for herself feels like a thrill, so Jenny goes on a personal vendetta against all those who have wronged her.
Almost Dead also has a secondary villain. This one is a guy who hasn’t been seen or heard of since Abducted. He takes to stalking Lizzy, intent on taking revenge on her for a perceived wrong. As if Lizzy didn’t have enough on her plate! She’s dealing with so much stuff now. This villain chooses to make Lizzy pay by going after certain people that she really cares about. One of them goes missing. Lizzy and her assistants must leave no stone unturned if they want to find this guy and rescue the person he kidnapped.
As I got nearer to the end, the book went on a completely different direction than I was expecting. Some of this stuff is bound to perplex readers who have become invested in the Lizzy Gardner series. I’ll go over these points, but be warned that I need to include spoilers. To help you avoid them, I’ve added those on the next page. Just click the link at the bottom of the post.
Although it started off on a high note, Almost Dead failed to exceed my expectations. The way things turned out just left a bad taste. This may be the most divisive installment in the Lizzy Gardner series. If you like books with HEAs, brace yourself. You could be disappointed.
Not bad, but you may like it.
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