SCARED TO DEATH Wendy Corsi Staub
Avon Books
ISBN: 978-0-06-189507-6
January 2011
Contemporary Suspense

Connecticut and New York City

Twenty-two years ago, a young Marin Quinn knuckled under to her controlling husband and gave up her infant son for adoption. Seven years later, that boy was kidnapped from his new home, leaving his foster parents, Elsa and Brett Cavalon, to grieve.

Today, Marin has two daughters and her congressman husband is in prison. The Cavalons are in the process of adopting a little girl, seven-year-old Renny. They recently learned that poor lost Jeremy died a year ago. That report was erroneous.

Someone stalks these two families, someone with deep hatred and a thirst for vengeance, someone not above taking it out on the children first.

SCARED TO DEATH takes place a year or so after the events in the first book in the trilogy, LIVE TO TELL, and includes some characters from it, including another mother, Lauren Walsh.

There are many characters and simultaneous happenings in SCARED TO DEATH. The point of view constantly shifts from one character to another, especially between Elsa and Marin, and often leaps to the disturbed mind of the stalker. And while the frequent changes of scene and points of view add greatly to the overall suspense of the work, I must say the device can also be frustrating. Often, just as a door is being opened (figuratively) or something crucial is about to be revealed, the scene would jump. At times this was so rapid that I frequently had to stop to orient myself to recall who was where and when he or she was last seen. This made it hard to get completely invested in the characters.

All that said, however, I am so glad I persevered to the eminently satisfying conclusion. So satisfied was I that it was only later that I realized a thread in SCARED TO DEATH is left loose, presumably to be tied up in the next book, HELL TO PAY, previewed at the end of SCARED TO DEATH.

So, do I recommend SCARED TO DEATH? Oh, yes. For maximum enjoyment, however, if you haven't read LIVE TO TELL, do so first and then go for the whole trilogy.

Jane Bowers