Born to Die by Lisa Jackson (♦♦♦♦½)

Before Thanksgiving, a thirty-five year-old B-movies actress named Shelly Bonaventure is found dead in L.A. She dies of an apparent suicide but the detective in charge of the investigation suspects otherwise. Days later, Jocelyn Wallis, a grade school teacher of about the same age, falls from a precipice in Grizzly Falls, Montana. She barely survives the fall, but dies from internal injuries at the local hospital.

Dr. Acacia “Kacey” Lambert begins hearing ever more frequently about accidents involving women that are “dead ringers” for her. When a recent patient of her also dies in a mysterious traffic accident, Kacey starts wondering if there is more to the story of the dead women who looked like her.

Kacey involves a friend from her past in the digging of old records and what she discovers is enough to make her contact police detectives Regan Pescoli and Selena Alvarez, who are already suspecting the clusters of young dead look-alikes. To top it all, Kacey is attracted to a handsome rancher with a small child, who has been linked to some of the victims. Is she next in his game of cat and mouse? Or, is it all a terrifying coincidence?

I liked this book. I started reading it around the holidays and it has taken me about three weeks to finish it due to its grim plot rather than to a flaw in its development. It is well written, but as I said, it is gruesome and graphic. This is the type of stories that make you scared of your own shadow and suspect the seemingly ordinary. It is one of those books that etch your psyche for good or ill.

The final showdown with the killer was a little far-fetched, or rather I didn’t like the way it was conceived; it was Hollywood-esque and not in a good way, but aside from that, the story is creepy like hell.

I plan to read more by this author, but surely not during any other holiday.