READY TO DIE – Lisa Jackson
A Selena Alvarez/Regan Pescoli To Die Novel , Book 5
ISBN-13:  978-1-4201-1851-3
Augu st 2013
Romantic Suspense

Grizzly Falls, Montana, Present Day

He waits patiently, knowing his victim's habits after spending months finding out everything about her.  It's Christmas Eve up in the hills of Montana where she spends the holiday in her cabin.  As she skis by, he takes aim, and it only takes one bullet to end Judge Kathryn Samuels-Piquard's life.  Who knows how long before they find her body in the snow?  Then he heads to Sheriff Dan Grayson's house, where he waits patiently for his target to get in perfect position.  Just as Dan is outside in the snow and he gets his sights on him, someone comes driving up to his house, and Dan moves just enough so the bullet only enters the side of his head.  He longs to wait for another chance, but skiing away is important, so he leaves no trace behind.  Now Detective Regan Pescoli will be the next one to be taken care of.  Tick tick tick… he is losing time….

The night before Regan Pescoli's boyfriend Nate Santana proposed marriage, and despite this being her third marriage, Regan has decided to hand in her resignation to Sheriff Grayson in person, until he is almost killed right in front of her.  Despite all that medical science can do, the sheriff remains in a coma; who knows if he'll ever come out of it?  Dan had three brothers who ran the family ranch; his brother Bart committed suicide several years ago, leaving behind his ex-wife Hattie and his two twin daughters.  In fact, Hattie had dated Dan, Cade and Bart Grayson before finally marrying Bart. Zed was the only brother who never gave her the time of day.  Hattie never believed Bart committed suicide and has asked Dan if he will keep investigating it.  Now, the twin's Uncle Dan is almost dead, and Hattie doesn't know if she can take another death in the family.

Regan's children, eighteen-year-old Jeremy and sixteen-year-old Bianca, always seem to do everything to drive her crazy.  Jeremy is dating Undersheriff Cort Brewster's daughter, Bianca appears to have an eating disorder, and with the attempt on Sheriff Grayson's life, even Christmas is thrown under the rug.  Finding the shooter now becomes Regan's main purpose at work.

Selena Alvarez is also a detective and is Regan's partner.  They work off each other and usually come up with answers to any cases they are assigned to.  As Regan and Selena investigate everyone who might have wanted both the judge and the sheriff dead, they are sure it is some convict they managed to get behind bars and wanted revenge on them both.

With all the unrest in the sheriff's department, everyone is getting in on trying to solve the murder and attempted murder, and sometimes even real life intervenes in Regan's wanting to find the culprit.  Nothing is right without Sheriff Grayson in his office when Undersheriff Brewster takes over his desk.

Lisa Jackson takes us into the world of small town murder with READY TO DIE.  Told from mainly Regan's and Selena's points of view, and some of the killer's, there are many details packed into this story.  There are stories of the murder of the judge; the shooting of Sheriff Grayson; Regan and her children; Hattie and Dan's brothers; various criminals who are on the list as possible murders; Cade's reaction to some unbelievable news; the investigation of the Judge's past; and the Judge's quirky neighbors.  At times it seemed as if there was so much going on, I never really felt the friendship between Regan and Selena or the passion they felt for this case, just the desire to find out which of their suspects could be the murderer.

There are loads of secondary characters.  Nate Santana, Regan's boyfriend, sounds appealing, but he is almost an afterthought.  All the suspects have family or friends who must be investigated, and Dan's brothers, especially Cade, play an all important part in Hattie's story.  And don't forget Regan's son and daughter, two typical self-absorbed teenagers who think only of themselves, but play an important part in the end.

READY TO DIE is probably a lot like a real investigation; small bits and pieces must be put together and looked at until a pattern becomes apparent, but it really dragged for me.  Not that it wasn't interesting; I just think maybe there were too many stories that couldn't really be appreciated.  But the ending is unexpected, and like all good mysteries, just flew by.  Lovers of mysteries will enjoy the intricacies of this novel.

Carolyn Crisher