I’d not heard of Lisa Jackson before, but her books dominated a whole shelf on the library’s crime section, so I thought her books would be worth a read.

Unfortunately, by the time I had finished reading the prologue, I was already feeling reservations…

What’s it about?

Dr Kacey Lambert was once targeted by a man who wanted to kill her. Now, he’s busy killing a bunch of women who look scarily like her, and working his way back to the woman who got away. Can Kacey find him before he kills her? (TV effects: dun…dun…DAH!)

Meanwhile Kacey meets a rancher. He’s cute. He has a cute son. But…he has connections to some (all?) of these women who look like her and are dead or missing. Is he the killer? Can she trust him?

What’s it like?

Full of drama, with some nice touches of police procedural, but ultimately unconvincing.

From the opening pages, I felt there was simply too much information. Any reader knows that Shelly Bonaventure isn’t going to live past the book’s opening chapter, so why on earth does Jackson need to spend pages telling us that she’s considering botox and her agent wants her to write a tell-all book, before showing us Shelly removing her contacts and adding drops to her bloodshot eyes? Just hurry up and die already, Shelly, please?

This kind of overkill permeates the book. There aren’t just a few women who resemble Kacey; there are dozens. We spend pages learning about the relationships of the lead detectives, which I always find a little dull, but it is especially so here, where one character’s daughter is bunking off school and spending too much time with an unsuitable boyfriend. Perhaps I would have felt differently if I had read the earlier books in the series featuring detectives Pescoli and Alvarez and been more invested in their character development.

I hoped the ending would redeem what had gone before, but I found several aspects of it just not believable, and I still don’t understand the killer’s behaviours throughout the book. He seems to take unnecessary risks, and it’s never explained why he does a certain risky thing (which must increase the chances of his getting caught) when he is going to kill the women anyway. I think ultimately we’re meant to think that he is just mad, but it doesn’t make for a satisfying ending.

Final thoughts

I really wanted to like this as it looked set to be thrilling, and there is clearly a loyal readership for Jackson’s books, but it just didn’t tick the right boxes for me. As most of my book group felt the same way (to the extent that many of them abandoned their books a few chapters in), I won’t be giving Lisa Jackson another try.

‘Born to Die’,
Lisa Jackson,
2012, Hachette, hardback