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Absolute Fear    by Lisa Jackson order for
Absolute Fear
by Lisa Jackson
Order:  USA  Can
Kensington, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

It's been three months since Eve Renner nearly died at the hands of a still unidentified assailant. The trauma left her with partial amnesia and the disturbing realization that that her fiancé, Cole Dennis, could well be a cold-blooded killer. However, Eve's shaky memory eventually gains Cole his freedom. She is angry and confused, and not a little afraid that if Cole wasn't responsible, then her attacker is still out there somewhere. For now all she wants to do is return home to New Orleans to start fresh.

Cole Dennis once had it all - until fiancée Eve Renner accused him of attempted murder. By the time the judicial system is through with him he's lost everything: his job, his considerable fortune, and his hard won reputation. Most hurtful is Eve's firm belief that he'd ever lay a hand on her, let alone try to kill her. But whatever resolution he hopes to find with Eve is put to the test the very day he's released from prison. Someone still wants to see both of them suffer, and will stop at nothing to finish what was started in a lonely bayou cabin months before.

Detectives Rick Bentz and Reuben Montoya are certain that Cole Dennis is guilty as sin. They've had run-ins with the arrogant and slick defense attorney before and the detectives, especially the mercurial Montoya, are eager to send Dennis up the river for good. But a new series of grisly, ritualistic murders leave them baffled and their theories about Dennis's guilt are left in serious doubt. New clues surface, ones that lead right back to Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital, where Eve and Cole's quest for the truth unearth another series of shocking revelations surrounding mysterious former patient, Faith Chastain.

Absolute Fear, the sequel to last year's Shiver, takes readers back to the steamy New Orleans locale and the eerie grounds of Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital. The setting comes to colorful and chilling life all over again under the author's sure hand. She re-introduces various secondary or recurring characters and picks up unfinished plot threads. Detectives Bentz and Montoya are back to investigate this latest series of killings that are linked to a previous case they thought they'd tied up in a neat bow.

The story and its large cast of characters engross from the first page, but as events progress the plot becomes increasingly convoluted as Jackson piles on a few too many complications. Some confuse the issue (particularly for those not familiar with series regulars and past incidents) while others go nowhere and add little to the plot. As a whole though, Absolute Fear delivers enough spine chilling thrills, interesting twists and turns, creepy villains and nice touches of romance to keep even the most jaded thriller fan flipping the pages into the wee hours of the night.

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