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I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this given that I hadn't heard of Barton before, but the taglines on the front intrigued me: 'The devil is in the detail...' and 'The New York Times bestseller', along with a quote from another crime author Tess Gerritsen : 'Shocking and terrifying, it will chill you to the bone' . Whilst it wasn't the most poorly written crime thriller, I don't think it really lived up to the claims on the cover and overall it was a tad disappointing.
Time Of Death introduces us to Lorie Hammonds, a woman who, in her younger years, fell in love with Mike Birkitt, until she upped and left for fame and fortune. Years later, when fame didn't take a shine to her, she returns to her hometown where Birkitt is now the sheriff. The town isn't too keen on Miss Hammonds because her stint of fame included a one-off porno film, Midnight Masquerade, making her somewhat of a disgrace to people who knew her.
Things take a turn for the worst in the town because Lorie's movie isn't the worst thing to have happened; there's a series of seemingly random killings, though they appear to be linked by the same MO, the same mask on the victim's face, and the death occurring at midnight. Each victim seems to have also received a death threat prior to the killer stealing their last breath, and all letters say the same thing. So, here we appear to have the work of one man, but why these victims?
As the novel progresses we're introduced to Lorie's friends, her job in the shop Treasures, and the Secret Powell agency enlisted to find the killer as the FBI don't seem to be getting anywhere fast. I won't give more of the plot away except to say that it's obvious from the start that the discussion of the porno and the murders are more than likely linked in some way, but how exactly and who is to blame are the elusive questions.
I thought that the plot was so-so; it didn't have that special something to it and it didn't leave me particularly gripped. I like the characters and I like the depth created by Barton in terms of the scenes and goings on, so I felt fairly empathic and engrossed within the story. Having said that, I wouldn't class this as one of those books I was thrilled by or something that I found myself eagerly turning the pages of.
On the back cover is 'When the clock strikes midnight, it's time to die'. I guess this sums up the book really; it's quite a straightforward premise, if a little cliché at times with a writing style that could have been more gritty and daring. For that reason, whilst it was an okay read, it wasn't something that I remembered much about afterwards and therefore wouldn't jump to recommend it too highly.
442 pages over 36 chapters (plus epilogue)