Friday, February 1, 2013

REVIEW: WHEN A HEART STOPS ~ LYNETTE EASON


A killer's deadly game needs new players... but someone's about to change the rules.

Medical examiner Serena Hopkins is used to dealing with death, but her composure is put to the test when a familiar modus operandi marks the piling bodies; the stakes become higher as it becomes apparent that a serial killer copycat is on the loose.  Another chilling common denominator is the fact that the victims are all members of Serena’s High School graduating class, getting ready to celebrate their 10 year reunion.  Serena knows a very dangerous game is being played and she might very well be in danger herself.  Nearly as unnerving is the presence of FBI agent Dominic Allen, her best friend’s brother and childhood crush, lead investigator on the case.

As the bodies and the evidence pile up, Serena and Dominic must work together to find a pattern and stop the killer before he strikes again.  When Serena catches the killer’s eye and a game of cat and mouse ensues, Dominic must face the reality that the girl he once ignored because he believed he wasn’t good enough for her, has become the woman he is falling in love with.  When Serena finds herself in serious danger, she must determine if the secret that she has been keeping is what has put her next on the killer's hit list. Can she trust Dominic with the truth before it's too late?


Lynette Eason’s When A Heart Stops is the second book in the Deadly Reunions series.  As with When The Smoke Clears I really enjoyed this book, but not quite as much as the first, simply because the detail this time around wasn’t as solid as in book 1.  I’m big on detail and consistency, and as with Eason’s older works I found myself questioning consistency;  for example something as simple as the location where Serena left her car (Eason missed a great opportunity here, by the way – I found myself waiting for an explosion of a car bomb.  It was set up perfectly, but didn’t happen – this is not Eason’s fault, though, but my own.  My imagination is just way too fertile).  Regardless, I still believe Eason’s writing is becoming more solid and the Deadly Reunions series is still way better than the Women Of Justice series.  The works of solving a case, as well as Serena's work as a medical examiner, is portrayed very realistically, and the case is gripping.
  
While I really like Dominic and Serena, the character development isn’t as strong this time around compared to the growth Alexia undergoes in When The Smoke Clears.  Dominic’s feelings towards his and Alexia’s father, for example, isn’t explored thoroughly. Furthermore the focus on faith isn't quite as prominent this time around either, which is something I missed.

From the very first page the killer's focus is on tormenting two best friends.  Therefore, I would have expected the killer to ultimately focus on Serena and Alexia; however *spoiler alert* he focuses on Serena and a teenage girl instead.  While it is always a good thing for an author when their work is not predictable, this did not make sense to me.  I also think if Serena and Alexia were the ones in trouble the tension and suspense could have been remarkable.  Eason had so many great possibilities that she just did not use.

Eason also set up two potentially important storylines, but didn’t follow through; first, Serena had decided to set herself up as bait for the killer, but things worked out differently – baiting the killer would have been a much more thrilling thread to follow than the one Eason ended up using; so much potential for suspense!  Also, a significant part of Serena and Dominic’s relationship hinges on the fact that Serena doesn’t want to be with a man like her father, and at times Dominic reminds her of her father too much.  This is Serena’s greatest doubt concerning Dominic, and it (as well as the dynamic between Serena’s parents) is something Dominic picks up on.  This setup pointed to an inevitable choice, yet it is one Serena never addresses.  There is not a conclusion to this question mark and it is something that still hangs over Serena and Dominic at the end.  Perhaps Eason will address this issue in When A Secret Kills, the next and final instalment of the Deadly Reunions series.

It will follow Serena and Alexia’s friend, Jillian Carter, as she finally returns home to face the demons that have been chasing her for ten years.  I look forward to finally finding out what Jillian saw that put her life in danger.  When A Secret Kills will be released in May 2013.



Product Information:
Title: When A Heart Stops
Author: Lynette Eason
Number of pages: 336
Publisher: Revell
Year: 2012
ISBN: 0800720083
ISBN13: 9780800720087

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