Wed
Feb 22 2017 3:00pm

Review: Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout is a gripping thriller that follows a young woman who comes home to reclaim her life—even as a murderer plots to end it (available February 28, 2017).

Reaching for the pantheon of serial killer novels comes Jennifer Armentrout’s Till Death, with a narrative that begins by staking claim on a terrain already littered with flags.

Dim artificial light was her home now. The musky, earthy scent would be with her right down to the very last breath she took, and that scent would clog her pores and cling to her hair.

This would be her final place.

The woman tipped her head back against the damp brick wall. The terror in her gaze gave way to pleading. Always did. So fucking predictable. So pointless. There was no hope here. There was no chance of a miracle. Once they came here, there was no knight riding to the rescue.

She’s under the sadistic control of the “Groom,” a sicko who’d had a flawless record of torture and death until ten years ago when Sasha Keeton managed to get away—and he has not forgotten.

Now 29-years-old, Sasha seems to have succeeded, landing an enviable position as an executive assistant for the head honcho of a multibillion-dollar consulting business. But she has never escaped the memory of her horrific past. She decides to give up her job to return to her hometown where she can help her mother run the Scarlet Wench, an inn that has been the family business from the time she was a child—a place that once housed happy memories. However, moving into an apartment above the inn, painful and terrifying dreams take hold.

I hear it then. A smooth grinding of metal against metal, of a door sliding open behind me, and everything slows down. My fingers brush over my keys as I turn sideways. An odd smell surrounds me, and I open my mouth to take a breath, but I’ve already taken my last breath before I know it. A rough hand clamps down. Fear jolts up my spine as I’m pulled back. Another arm circles my waist, pinning my right arm. The odd bitter smell is everywhere, clogging my nostrils and throat, and I open my mouth to scream as my heart seizes in my chest. I lift my legs to fight back, but it’s too late.

Too late.

“Don’t fight me,” he whispers in my ear. “Don’t ever fight me.”

Soon enough, veridical nightmares turn to reality when she finds every window of her car smashed the following morning. The FBI agent who had originally worked on the case, Cole Landis, returns to follow up on leads. He’s still tormented by the fact he couldn’t protect Sasha from being kidnapped all those years before, and he is determined not to fail this go around. However, complicating matters significantly is the fact that he is in love with her—problematic not only on a professional level, but also personal because, understandably, she has found it impossible to completely trust and open up in relationships since her ordeal.

Interestingly, it’s been a decade since J.D. Robb’s Creation in Death was released in which she cast a serial killer nicknamed “The Groom,” who after a nine-year hiatus returns to killing, and the lead detective becomes emotionally connected while working to solve the case. There must be something special about the ten-year period, something mystical, astrological, or mathematical, or maybe it’s simply something in the water.

See also: Review: Creation in Death by J.D. Robb

Whatever the reason, it’s true we have been here before and will again. Ever since Clarice and Hannibal, there has been an audience that can’t get enough of the psychotic killer and innocent doe tango. It then all comes down to how well it’s written; does it generate any genuine suspense and spin a trope in a likable manner? With Till Death, the answer for fans who like the tried and tested is yes and yes.

 

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David Cranmer is the publisher and editor of BEAT to a PULP. Latest books from this indie powerhouse include the alternate history novella Leviathan and sci-fi adventure Pale Mars. David lives in New York with his wife and daughter.

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