BOOK REVIEW: OBSESSED (LIZZY GARDNER, #4)

obsessed-trraganOBSESSED (Lizzy Gardner, #4)

Author: T. R. Ragan
Published on: August 12, 2014
Genre:
Mystery, suspense

Published by: Thomas & Mercer
Format: E-book, paperback, Audible

Desperate for better ratings, radio psychologist Madeline Blair tells her listeners she’s being stalked, unaware that her long-time listener and biggest fan, Seth Brown, will do anything to protect her. When her publicity stunt is revealed, Seth becomes enraged by her deceit and dangerously unhinged.

When her friends mysteriously begin to vanish and damning evidence points to Madeline, she turns to private investigator Lizzy Gardner for help. Lizzy knows her way around a murderer’s mind, after surviving her own horrifying ordeal at the hands of a serial killer years ago.

As Lizzy closes in, Seth Brown is undeterred. Madeline wanted a stalker and now she has one. Nothing is going to stop him. He’s obsessed.

REVIEW

Lizzy Gardner and co. aren’t going anywhere anytime soon! They’re back for yet another suspenseful adventure. I thought that the Lizzy Gardner series would be a trilogy. I like it so much that I’m glad there are more books. In Obsessed, Lizzy’s main villain is a man fixated on a love that cannot be. The guy, Seth, dreams about radio psychologist Madeline Blair (even though he has a wife). When Madeline tells her listeners that she has a stalker, Seth appoints himself her protector. Let me note that Seth isn’t just obsessed with Madeline. He already has mental issues, going back for decades. These sometimes manifest as episodes where he is still conscious, but has amnesia afterward. While Seth is standing guard outside Madeline’s house one day, he makes a huge mistake.

Meanwhile, Lizzy and her assistants are working on other cases. Hayley Hansen now lives in an, ahem, shitty apartment. I thought she had turned bad after what happened at the ending of A Dark Mind, but Hayley is still on the side of good. That impressed me. This girl has so much strength. Jessica Pleiss, Lizzy’s other assistant, has been at the FBI academy in the time that has passed since the previous book. She returns to seek Hayley’s assistance in a criminal case. Although Hayley isn’t happy that Jessica hasn’t called or even texted her for so long, she accepts. This story arc develops throughout the book, developing Jessica’s character further. She’s come a long way since Abducted.

As the book progresses, Seth’s mental health deteriorates (not the confined-to-bed-from-now-on kind of sick, but crazy kind of sick). As it does, Seth also becomes more dangerous and unstable. It’s a bit surprising that Lizzy and co. don’t catch wind of Seth until a good way into the book. Lizzy will have to work against the clock before he causes too much damage. Naturally, her investigation lands her in Seth’s cross-hairs. Anyway, notice I haven’t mentioned what makes Seth lose it. That’s to avoid spoiling the story for readers.

Since Jessica is no longer under Lizzy’s employment, the latter seeks a new assistant. After a bunch of interviews, Lizzy hires newcomer Kitally (no last name is given). She’s a friend Hayley met during a brief stint in juvenile. At first glance, Kitally seems even more like bad news that Hayley. While she’s pretty, Kitally’s physical appearance can seem startling at first. She doesn’t have nearly as much darkness within her as Hayley does, though. Also, I sort of like her name. It sounds nice. Anyway, Kitally helps Hayley in her quest for revenge against Brian, the man who made her the way she is today. Kitally’s family is rich, which helps. She is also said to be extremely smart. That makes Kitally a great asset for Lizzy, and it pairs well with Hayley’s perceptiveness.

T.R. Ragan also weaves a few subplots (other minor cases Lizzy and co. are handling) throughout the book. These have been more common since Dead Weight, and they don’t detract from the story. A few of these don’t have much to do from the main plot. One of my favorite small cases in this book is a missing-person case that Hayley and Kitally handle. The way Hayley decides to close the case speaks a lot about her. She’s a strong believer in justice, almost whichever way it’s served. If Jessica had been handling that case, things would have been a lot more different.

There wasn’t much I didn’t like about Obsessed. Once again, T.R. Ragan manages to create a villain who isn’t boring or lackluster. There are several chapters written from his point of view. Seth is unique among Lizzy’s enemies in that he isn’t exactly evil. He’s just touched in the head, delusional about a love that can’t be. The other characters in the series are also well-done, and their plot threads are weaved seamlessly. You can tell that the author’s skill has grown, four books in. There’s even a clever use of foreshadowing, involving Kitally.

Now, I want to mention a few things about the ending that may go into certain details. This is the part of the book I liked the least. If you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t click over to the next page. You can find the link for page 2 at the bottom of the post.

Solving the main case brings more trouble for Lizzy and her friends. The aftermath leaves it clear that there will be another book. This ending is the biggest cliffhanger that the Lizzy Gardner series has ever had. It will keep you on the edge of your seat and have you eagerly awaiting the next book. I think that Obsessed is the best installment in the Lizzy Gardner series so far. Despite the few flaws, I didn’t want to deduct even half a star.

MY RATING

Absolute must-read. It’s amazing!!!

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