Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Two Can Play

Two Can Play
by Kate Kessler
Recommended Ages: 14+

In the second Audrey Harte novel, the child psychologist introduced in It Takes One has taken time off from her consulting job on the TV show "Kids Who Kill" to help the prosecution of a teenage serial killer close to her hometown in Maine. Specifically, Audrey is supposed to find out whether the victim who survived when Ian Monroe was caught red-handed will be able to testify against him. The complications thicken fast when a serial killer with an identical M.O. starts dropping victims, suggesting at the very least that Monroe has an accomplice. Pretty soon the new killer starts paying personal attention to Audrey and the people close to her, including steamy bar owner Jake and his niece. Meantime, Jake has a murderous secret of his own. Meantime meantime, the teenage perpetrator in the last murder Audrey solved needs some personal attention, meaning our heroine has to go back to the juvenile facility where she paid for the murder she herself committed as a teen.

Heavy stuff, right? Well, that's what you get for reading a book about serial killers. Luckily, Audrey Harte is a tough broad. Also, the chemistry between her and Jake is hard to resist. But I haven't even touched on some of the twisted stuff that happens in this book, such as a corpse turning up in Audrey's own hotel room, a serial killer groupie doing her main squeeze's evil bidding, a victim becoming a monster and a person Audrey cares about becoming a potential victim. The really off-the-hook part is that in spite of everything, Audrey's mission will always be to heal, to whatever extent is possible, the twisted and broken young person who is behind all these unspeakable crimes - or at least, to teach them how to cope with the life of extreme boredom in store for them after they get caught. Readers of the "get that creep" persuasion may be surprised to find themselves rooting for her to do just that. Maybe it's because "kids who kill" are not far from being victims themselves. Or maybe it's just solid writing.

Kate Kessler, a.k.a. Kate Locke, Kate Cross, Kady Cross, Kathryn Smith and Kate McLaughlin, is the author of such diverse titles as A Game of Scandal, When Seducing a Duke, When Marrying a Scoundrel, When Tempting a Rogue, Brotherhood of the Blood, Night of the Huntress, Taken by the Night, Let the Night Begin, Before I Wake, Dark Side of Dawn, The Girl in the Steel Corset, The Girl with the Windup Heart, Heart of Brass, and of course, the "Immortal Empire" trilogy of God Save the Queen, The Queen is Dead and Long Live the Queen. The next book in the "Audrey Harte" series, meanwhile, is Three Strikes.

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