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Be Afraid


Be Afraid

Mary Burton, queen of the modern-day romantic thriller, pulls us into the vortex of a whirlwind battle centered on the age-old dichotomy between good and evil in her latest release, BE AFRAID. The duality begins in her opening line: “Reason and Madness, like Jekyll and Hyde, were two sides of the same coin.”

Burton defines the character of her hero in the first line of chapter one: Detective Rick Morgan’s nickname was Boy Scout. The bestselling author’s avid fans will recognize the alpha male detective since he is a member of her crime-fighting Morgan family dynasty of Nashville.

Following a near-fatal shooting and medical leave, the newly reinstated Morgan is paired with Bishop, an outlier partner depicted in symbolic black, from his jet-black hair to the polished black cowboy boots. Although Bishop is referred to as a good cop by others on the force, Rick knows Bishop is waiting for him to screw up so he can step into his position.

"Be afraid to miss this riveting, sizzling, terrifying new novel by a master storyteller with more tricks up her sleeve than Penn and Teller."

When decade-old skeletonized remains of a naked child wrapped in a pink blanket are found in Centennial Park, Morgan and Bishop move into action. The difficult task of identifying the little girl forces Rick to deal with Susan Martinez, a reporter he doesn’t trust.

To make matters worse and ratchet the tension, Rick’s sister, Georgia, a forensic photographer, recommends that he turn to forensic artist Jenna Thompson to give the tiny victim a face. Jenna is on a six-week leave of absence from the Baltimore Police Department, following a traumatizing case involving a little girl found in a closet. Rick wants to know more about the woman whose memories have drawn her to Nashville. Why would a young, healthy cop walk away from the job and end up drawing pictures in a honky-tonk? Shadow eyes dance on the edges of the innocent portrait artist’s mind and canvas, and Rick sees the strangeness in the eyes on her picture.

Will Jenna’s affinity for the damaged and the lost allow her to turn to Rick for comfort as she remembers more and more of her past each day?

Inspector Dean Murphy draws Rick’s attention to the word Faithless, which the killer carved into the headboard of the victim’s bed. He also tells Rick the woman appears to have been tied spread-eagled, obliterating any doubt that her death was accidental. Is the word Faithless a clue to the motive for the killings?

Someone in a red truck is watching and stalking women. Burton treats thrill seekers to another serial killer, but is this one a dummy being pulled by the strings of a puppet-master arsonist? What connects the women? Does the doll’s head left on Jenna’s back patio indicate she is next on the dastardly murderer’s list, or has she gotten his attention with the spot-on portrait?

Toni Morrison once said, “Evil has a blockbuster audience; goodness lurks backstage.” If we believe Morrison’s statement to be true, and I do, then BE AFRAID will occupy center stage on the bestseller list. Be afraid to miss this riveting, sizzling, terrifying new novel by a master storyteller with more tricks up her sleeve than Penn and Teller.

Reviewed by Melody Dean Dimick on May 15, 2015

Be Afraid
by Mary Burton