Friday, October 18, 2013

When The Lights Go Out

Published:  September 24th, 2013
Sleep With The Lights On (Brown and De Luca #1)
By: Maggie Shayne
Harlequin MIRA
ISBN-13:  9780778315544
Through the eyes of a killer

Rachel de Luca has found incredible success writing self-help books. But her own blindness and the fact that her troubled brother has gone missing have convinced her that positive thinking is nothing but bull. Her cynicism wavers when a cornea transplant restores her sight. The new eyes seem to give her new life, until they prove too good to be true and she starts seeing terrifying visions of brutal murders crimes she soon learns are all too real.

Detective Mason Brown's own brother recently died, leaving behind a horrific secret. In atonement, Mason donated his brother's organs, though he's kept the fact quiet. Now he wants to help Rachel find her brother, but when he discovers the shocking connection between her visions and his own brother, he suddenly has to do everything in his power to save her from a predator who is somehow still hunting from beyond the grave.
      I haven't been reading thrillers/mysteries on a regular basis for years now.  It seems like they are all the same after awhile and nothing fresh is left to be surprised by.  This book didn't necessarily have the freshest premise ever, but it just might have helped rejuvenate my interest in thrillers!  Shayne's whole backbone to the book is the idea that evil can live on once its host is dead, through a process like organ donation.  The story is about Rachel de Luca who has been blind since she was a pre-teen and has made a fortune selling self-help books with a philosophy she thinks is complete crap.  Detective Mason Brown has a chance encounter with Rachel, shortly after which he witnesses his own brother's suicide.  Turns out Mason's brother had been hiding a secret from his family - he was a serial killer and the guilt was no longer bearable.  Mason covers it up and donates his brother's organs to make up for it.  Rachel receives corneal tissue belonging to him and starts to have visions of murders and a strange connection to a killer.  Searching for her own brother who has disappeared, can Rachel and Mason come together to find out the truth behind how the murders are continuing - when the killer is already dead?  And will they both make it out alive?
      Rachel is a sassy, sarcastic and mostly downright rude ball-buster.  She doesn't take anyone's crap, does what she wants and has no filter for what she says to people.  Mason was just an average cop, with a slightly screwed up family history until he was forced to keep his brother's twisted secrets.  They clash almost immediately and spend the entire book circling around one another, each unsure of the other's motives until almost the end of the novel.  I liked the usage of an old idea (seeing visions of murder through eyes donated by a killer), with the twist that the evil was hosted in the body and transplanted along with the organs.  It needed to find a receptive host to survive.  It didn't completely discount the fact that the people it took over were evil in there own ways.  But it did give way to the notion that there are different types and degrees of evil.  I loved Rachel as a character, especially a heroine.  She made me laugh a lot and still feel sorry for her when her past was given to the readers, including the loss of her sight.  My favorite thing was when she adopted an old, blind bulldog named Myrtle.  It just about broke my heart, because Rachel did it so Myrtle could live and not be put down at the pound.  But soon enough she was buying driving goggles and matching scarves for Myrtle and taking her everywhere. 
      The way the murder plot wrapped up wasn't all that unpredictable, but I still appreciated the resolution.  And the way Shayne developed the organ-killer/host idea and the amount of organs donated as a setup for further novels was pretty ingenious.  Overall I really enjoyed this novel, and the characters took it up a notch from the thriller with paranormal leanings that could easily fit in with the rest of the pack.  They made it distinguishable and unique and I'd recommend it for that alone.
VERDICT:  4/5  Stars
*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley.  No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book was published September 24th, 2013.*

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