Before She Dies by Mary Burton
Publisher: Zebra (Kensington Publishing)
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (410 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia
He Is Their Judge…
In death, they are purified. Holding his victims under water, he washes away their sins as they struggle for their last breath. Then he stakes their bodies to the ground, exposing them for what they really are. Witches, sent to tempt and to corrupt…
No one knows about defense attorney Charlotte Wellington’s murdered sister, or about her childhood spent with the carnival that’s just arrived in town. For Charlotte, what’s past is past. But others don’t agree. And as a madman’s body count rises, she and Detective Daniel Rokov are drawn into a mission that’s become terrifyingly personal…
At last, she is within his reach. All his victims deserve their fate, but her guilt is greatest. And with every scream, he will make her see what it means to suffer and repent—before she dies…
She makes him crave dark, evil passion. She must be a witch. The “voice” whispers, she’ll steal his soul. He must kill, but first he must purify her.
Better go lock the doors, close the blinds, and turn on the night lights. Before She Dies is hard to put down once started and if night comes, one surely wants to be locked in safe and secure.
The undercurrent of chilling, terrifying violence threatens to suck Charlotte Wellington and Sooner Tate under as each works to make a life outside the hocus-pocus of Madame Divine’s carnival tent—a place Grady Tate had demanded they work.
Charlotte Wellington, a hard-edged defense attorney made it to where she is with determination, hard work, and hard lessons learned from Grady Tate. Her colleagues believe her to be a trust-fund baby—she acts the part. She guards her secrets well—past and present. Her newest secret is having sex with the intense detective Daniel Rokov—strictly for sexual gratification with no strings attached. Where this connection takes them makes spellbinding reading.
Even after eighteen years, Charlotte’s life as a carnie still influences and shadows her. She is still haunted by memories of her dead sister Mariah; the baby Sooner; her own dead mother who had come to believe she was truly psychic; and the alcoholic, dyed-in-the-wool carnie Grady Tate. When the carnival comes to town, Sooner and Grady Tate storm back into Charlotte’s life big time.
Old ties that still bind tangle them all in the snare of a killer that believes his mission in life is to trap, purity, and then kill “witches”. This character chills the blood. WOW!
Detective Rokov and his colleagues, with skill, dedication, and tenacity, work the case of the vicious killer who is unspeakably cruel to his victims. Detective Rokov can be as hard-edged as Charlotte is when the need arises, but he is also gentle with giving bad news to victim’s families, respected by his coworkers, and truly caring with his own family—particularly with his grandmother. She’s a sweetheart.
The secondary characters, many as complex and memorable as the primary characters, make Before She Dies a gripping story. Grady Tate has as many layers as an onion. As the layers are peeled away, the reader sees not only his flaws and saving graces but also sees how Charlotte and Sooner came to have their hang-ups.
Sooner who, at eighteen, is determined to spread her wings, fly away from the carnival, and make her way in the world, stirs up a hornet’s nest. Secrets, fears, hatreds, and horrific tortures boil to the surface as author Mary Burton, with subtle clues and foreshadowing, weaves the antagonist into the plot as she continues to weave in the “not-to-be-denied” love that claims Charlotte and Detective Rokov for its very own. However, the multi-layered, memorable characters, the complex plot, and spine-tingling horror are so engrossing; it is easy to overlook the subtleties. Who the antagonist is may be a real surprise.
Ms. Burton’s amazing ability to weave together a tapestry of a tale that keeps one turning pages with bated breath is phenomenal.