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Dead Before Dark    by Wendy Corsi Staub order for
Dead Before Dark
by Wendy Corsi Staub
Order:  USA  Can
Kensington, 2009 (2009)

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* *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

The Night Watchman serial killer was well known in the sixties, but the murders ended as quickly as they started. Thirty-five years later, the only person who knows what happened to the Watchman is released from Attica Prison. He knows who his final victim will be, but first he has a few murders to do leading up to his last act.

The killer has chosen psychic Detective Lucinda Sloan as his last victim. He has just watched her on television talking about her ability to see murders and bring peace to victims' families. She is with a good friend, Cam, and Cam's husband Mike Hastings, whose daughter was abducted but later released. Detective Randall Barakat is also being interviewed as he and Lucinda were partners at the time of the abduction. Cam's older sister Ava died in 1970 under suspicious circumstances, and now they are talking of re-opening the case. This has caught the eye of the Night Watchman, who thinks it is a small world after all.

The Watchman decides to play games with the unknowing Lucinda. When the first murder victim is found and it is someone she knows, Lucinda reels from the brutality and the shock. The killer has left a cryptic note with the victim and Lucinda struggles to make sense of the case. Shortly afterwards, she notices that someone has been in her apartment. There is no sign of a forced entry, but things are left behind for her to find. Now the killer is sending notes to her good friend Cam, and also to former FBI agent Vic Shattuck who has been writing a true crime book on the Watchman.

As the killing spree escalates and takes Lucinda across the country to Chicago for the second victim and Denver for the third, she realizes the killer has been setting her up for a final showdown. Each victim is found wearing a certain article with a message for Lucinda. Will she figure out the clues before it is her time with the Watchman? Dead Before Dark is an intense, fast paced, must read thriller that keeps you turning the pages. Though it is a follow up to Dying Breath, it stands well on its own.

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