Fresh Meat: Before She Dies by Mary Burton

Before She Dies by Mary BurtonThe other night I was having a conversation about serial killer books on Twitter (because, seriously, where else can you have a conversation like that?) and one person mentioned that she didn’t like them because they all have the same motivation. Now, oddly enough, one of the reasons I like SK novels is the wide diversity of “crazy.” Oh, sure, all these guys are sick—you have to be to do what they do—but I really enjoy watching their lunacy develop.

Mary Burton’s Before She Dies provides a new slice of nuts for me. I mean, maybe someone else has written about a killer who wants to rid the world of witches, but if so I haven’t read it yet.

In the early days, he didn’t take the time to position his prey. He simply dumped the bodies and ran. In those days he did mark his victims but only with crude lettering carved with a knife. Many times, the word was illegible and the warnings to the world unclear.

That’s the way it had been with his first. He’d been so scared in the hours and days after her kill. Each time the phone had rung or someone had knocked on his door, he was sure it was the police. But the days and weeks passed and no one came for him.

Realizing he’d gotten away with murder, he’d been jazzed and had gone to a tattoo artist. He’d had the witch’s name tattooed on his biceps as a reminder that real evil existed and that he must always be vigilant.

He glanced at the faded tattoo.


He’d told the artist she was his girlfriend and he wanted her to be a part of him forever. The artist had suggested a heart wrapped in wroses. He’d liked the idea but told the man to add thorns as well. They’d both shared a big laugh over the perils of love.

But he’d just come to realize he’d not killed Grace. She had sent a decoy to take her place.

Of course Grace, now Charlotte, is the heroine. This is, after all, romantic suspense, where the woman-in-danger is a staple. But Grace is no shrinking violet. She was raised in the carnival and pulled herself out by her own strength and wits to become a leading defense attorney, so a serial killer . . . well, no big deal.

Of course, this killer is more intimately tied to Charlotte than either of them know, so things get messy rather fast. This is a fun book with a heaping helping of deep dish crazy.

Laura K. Curtis lives in Westchester, NY, with her husband and 3 dogs who’ve taught her how easily love can co-exist with the desire to kill.  She blogs at Women of Mystery and maintains an online store at TorchSongs GlassWorks.  She can also be found on Twitter and poking her nose into all sorts of trouble in various spots around the web.


  1. Maxine

    I agree they don’t all have the same motivation (though most of them share a need to kill young, pretty, “sexy” women, rather than middle-aged, overweight, balding men). However the story arcs are pretty much the same – I don’t knowingly read serial killer books but as I read a lot of crime fiction one can inadvertently read them — and they are invariably predictable. Which makes it pointless reading them, as they surely aren’t literature. (Predictable = boring in my book). So all you are left with is “inventive” ways of killing people, usually revoltingly, or (as here, it seems) “inventive” subsets of people to kill. Count me out. There are plenty of good crime novels being written by authors who don’t go in for this type of stuff (M Connelly, Rankin, Elly Griffiths, Aline Templeton, Peter May etc).

  2. Becky Hantsbarger

    I think I may have to add this one to the TBR room. I’m intrigued!

  3. Laura K. Curtis

    A TBR ROOM! Now that’s impressive!

  4. Becky Hantsbarger

    LOL! Tell that to my husband! Thank goodness he understands my book addition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *