Title: Be Afraid by Mary Burton
Morgans of Nashville Series Book Two
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
The Fear Is Terrifying
When police rescue five-year-old Jenna Thompson from the dark closet where she’s been held captive for days, they tell her she’s a lucky girl. Compared to the rest of her family, it’s true. But even with their killer dead of an overdose, Jenna is still trying to find peace twenty-five years later.
But The Truth
On leave from her forensic artist job, Jenna returns to Nashville, the city where she lost so much. Instead of closure, she finds a new horror. Detective Rick Morgan needs Jenna’s expertise in identifying the skeletal remains of a young child. The case jogs hazy half-buried memories–and a nagging dread that Jenna’s ordeal hasn’t ended.
Is Even Worse
Now other women are dying. And as the links between these brutal killings and Jenna’s past becomes clear, she knows this time, a madman will leave no survivors. . .
Opening with a chilling prologue, Be Afraid by Mary Burton is an incredibly riveting read from beginning to end. This second installment in the Morgans of Nashville series is a very intriguing mystery with slight romantic elements that fans of police procedurals do not want to miss. While it can be read as a standalone, I also recommend the first novel in the series to get a better understanding of the characters and their backstories.
Baltimore police officer and forensic artist Jenna Thompson returns to Nashville after a current case triggers long forgotten memories of her kidnapping twenty-five years earlier. She is the only member of her family that survived an attack that left her parents and older sister dead. She was rescued by police after the kidnapper/murderer died from a fatal overdose and the case was officially closed. But Jenna is haunted by hazy memories that seem to indicate there might be more to her case than originally thought and she is working as street artist while she works up the courage to do a little digging in her past.
Detective Rick Morgan and his partner Jake Bishop are working on a couple of cases when they are introduced to Jenna by Rick’s sister and crime scene investigator, Georgia. She suggests Jenna use her skills as a forensic artist to help identity the skeletal remains of a young child discovered buried in a pond at a local park. After Jenna’s reconstruction is complete, she and Rick take the sketch to the media where she is blindsided during the interview when the reporter brings up the long ago kidnapping.
Jenna’s past soon collides with the present when Rick realizes that another investigation of his shares a few startling similarities to the murders of her family. He is currently working on series of murders where arson is used to cover up evidence of the crimes and the alleged killers are later found dead. It quickly becomes apparent to Rick these cases are linked and that the killers did not act alone. This pattern is eerily similar to evidence at the Thompson crime scene but will he uncover the connection between the cases before the killer strikes again?
The mystery aspect of the storyline is very well written and it is fascinating how the different story arcs all eventually tie together. The story is written from multiple viewpoints (including the killers’) and this provides valuable insight about the crimes. The most disturbing perspective is that of the mastermind behind the murders and this peek into a very twisted mind reveals a desperate attempt to keep the long dormant murderous impulses under control.
Be Afraid is a suspense-laden and fast-paced mystery that has many unexpected twists and turns. Mary Burton does an absolutely brilliant job obscuring the killer’s identity until the novel’s rather dramatic and pulse-pounding conclusion. It is a fantastic whodunit that will leave fans of the genre very eager for the next novel in the Morgans of Nashville series.