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 the specter of a lost faith in herself and her motives that night.
It’s really interesting to come into a series at the seventh novel, after major changes have just happened to the main character! I became interested in this novel because of those changes, because the author had taken a police procedural/thriller series and made it into something much more.
J.T. Ellison vividly explores the psychology of a longtime cop, Taylor Jackson, who, in the course of an investigation, not only suffers physical and mental harm herself, but fails to save her best friend from a horrible experience. She’s removed from her usual work as a cop and her usual ways of interacting with her colleagues and is eventually removed even from her normal setting, as she travels from the United States to Scotland, where she spends some time recovering at a friend’s estate near Edinburgh.
In the course of reading the novel, I definitely wanted to find out what happened next to all of the characters, as well as to backtrack and explore some of the previous events in the series, to find out how Taylor had arrived at the story I read, and to learn more from the intriguing glimpses I was given of her fellow homicide cops and her best friend, a specialist in pathology.
Taylor Jackson starts out the novel in a dark place, after the events of the previous novel in the series:
Being shot in the head by a suspect. Spending a week in an induced coma while the swelling on her brain subsided, then, when the medication wore off, scaring everyone to death by not waking up for another week.
And when she wakes, PTSD keeps her from both sleeping and speaking. She’s feeling pressured by the expectations of her various doctors and of her friends and partner, and frustrated that she cannot escape her memories.
Several police mysteries also go on in the novel, both in Taylor’s home of Nashville and in the U.K., where she’s recovering, but the heart of the plot revolves around her injury, her recovery, and how both affect her life and work.
Working murder was her life, her purpose. Take that away and she felt like a shell of herself. Take away her voice too, and she was slowly locking herself down, inside, where only her demons resided.
[She writes]…there’s no doubt anymore. I’m losing my mind. The shooting is haunting me. The horror of [her friend’s] loss, of who I’ve become, all of it is too much. I’m not sure how much longer I can stand to go on like this, trapped under glass, trapped away from everyone. I’m lost…I feel them all around me. All the missing and the gone. I can’t see them, except for late at night, when I’m supposed to be asleep. Then they push in on me from all sides, stealing my breath…I don’t think there’s any coming back. I don’t think there’s any room for me in our world anymore.
Complicating her recovery is a romantic dilemma. She’s engaged to Baldwin, an FBI profiler, but is also being courted by Memphis, a sympathetic and rich Scotland Yard officer.
She was afraid of more than just her visible injuries. She was scared that the invisible ones, especially the brittle crack in her heart, would be what did her in. [Baldwin had] lied to her about his past. She asked for one thing, loyalty, and he had failed her….Memphis was different than Baldwin. Baldwin loved her, Memphis wanted her. She had no illusions about the difference. Things with Memphis would be…simpler. Lust was always easier than love.
My favorite mystery series always have character growth as well as a complicated puzzle. Ellison’s Where All the Dead Lie has more than enough drama to satisfy, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of her work.
Victoria Janssen is the author of three erotic novels and numerous short stories. Her latest novel is The Duke and The Pirate Queen from Harlequin Spice. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriajanssen, or find out more at victoriajanssen.com.