Friday, November 9, 2012

Taylor Jackson series (#s 6 & 7) ~ JT Ellison review

*Fingers crossed that my computer, my internet and my migraine/almost-lack-thereof cooperate enough for this post to finally get, well, posted - sorry!*

**Likely contains spoilers for Books 1-5 of series - reviews here & here**

So Close the Hand of Death (Taylor Jackson #6)
Mira Books
February 8, 2011
408 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

It's a hideous echo of a violent past. Across America, murders are being committed with all the twisted hallmarks of the Boston Strangler, the Zodiac Killer and Son of Sam. The media frenzy explodes and Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson knows instantly that The Pretender is back...and he's got helpers.As The Pretender's disciples perpetrate their sick homages--stretching police and the FBI dangerously thin--Taylor tries desperately to prepare for their inevitable showdown. And she must do it alone. To be close to her is to be in mortal danger, and she won't risk losing anyone she loves. But the isolation, the self-doubt and the rising body count are taking their toll--she's beside herself and ready to snap.

The brilliant psychopath who both adores and despises her is drawing close. Close enough to touch....


So Close the Hand of Death is really the culmination of a story line that has been building over the course of the past several Taylor Jackson books - since the second book, 14, really. I noted in my review of the first books in the series that the author suggests reading 14 before reading So Close the Hand of Death. While it was hard to pick out which information came solely from 14 while reading this book, the characters as well as the already established plot that are so much a part of So Close the Hand of Death, did really get introduced/play out in 14.

It's been expanded on since then in the three books that came in the interim, but that's the book that really established everything.

I do think there's enough recap in this novel - as with the others - to allow it to be a standalone, but as it's bringing about the end of the Taylor Jackson series, it's more about tying things up for Taylor and rewarding readers who have read the entire series. Readers who will get much more out of this book than someone picking it up for a one-off. (If you're looking to read just one book in this series, I'd suggest one of the earlier books. Not because this isn't as good, but it is more a series book than they are.)

So Close the Hand of Death brings some things that seemed inevitable, but also introduces some things - with the secondary characters that are surprising. This is not a predictable read. It still follows the same sort of format as the previous books with the group working a case, it's just a much more personal case - and Taylor's involved in quite a different way.

The ending is also one that will leave you hoping you have the other book already on hand.

Rating: 8/10


review of Book 7 below, contains spoilers for ending of Book 6




Where All the Dead Lie (Taylor Jackson #7)
Mira Books
September 20, 2011
400 pages

add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon
In her showdown with the murderous Pretender, a bullet taken at close range severed the connection between Taylor's thoughts and speech. Effectively mute, there's no telling if her voice will ever come back. Trapped in silence, she is surrounded by ghosts--of the past, of friendships and trusts lost...of a lost faith in herself and her motives that night.When Memphis Highsmythe offers Taylor his home in the Scottish Highlands to recuperate, her fiance can't refuse her excitement, no matter his distrust of the man. At first, Memphis's drafty and singularly romantic castle seems the perfect place for healing. But shortly the house itself surrounds her like a menacing presence. As Taylor's sense of isolation and vulnerability grows, so, too, does her grip on reality.

Someone or some"thing" is coming after Taylor. But is she being haunted by the dead...or hunted by the living?

Where All the Dead Lie is very much a continuation of So Close the Hand of Death and also (for now) the last book in the Taylor Jackson series. Of the seven books in this series, Where All the Dead Lie is probably the least standalone. In fact, So Close the Hand of Death and Where All the Dead Lie feel almost like a subset of the series. Book 7 concludes things nicely and is a sort of sequel to Book 6 while still having its own story.

I do have to admit that the beginning, even up to the first two thirds, of this novel had me a bit . . . concerned. The story was so different from the usual format the books in this series have taken - Taylor was all but the only previously known character featured save for Memphis, the character interactions were missing, there was no 'case' to be solved and then came the possible ghosts.

After The Immortals (Book 5) magic was a possibility so ghosts seemed possible as well. And with Taylor in Memphis' Scottish castle, well, who knew. It was hard to discern what was coming from Taylor being haunted by the events of So Close the Hand of Death and what was coming from Taylor being really haunted.

The ending really brought things together, though. I still am not sure I love the way everything happened in getting there but after the ending I do understand it and can't really fault what happened, either.

Seeing Taylor in such a different state did make for a very different book, but after the events of So Close the Hand of Death, it was required. Both physically and emotionally. Anything else - especially having her bounce back - would have done the character and readers, alike, a disservice. I do hope that Taylor Jackson is a character who is revisited and I'm happy that Sam Owens Loughley has her own series - I'm looking forward to more of it.

Rating: 7/10

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