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Kill For Me    by Karen Rose order for
Kill For Me
by Karen Rose
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Kill For Me is the final instalment in Rose's gripping trilogy that features the Vartanian siblings. Simon (Die for Me) is a maniacally clever serial killer whose chilling and intricate endgame involves vengeance against his entire family. Daniel (Scream for Me) is the tormented and driven FBI agent who swears to bring his brother to justice. Finally, Susannah is the icy and reserved New York prosecutor whose childhood years were shaped by her parents' neglect and Simon's diabolical abuse.

As the story opens, special GBA agent Luke Papadopoulos and Susannah Vartanian are sorting through the chaos of a horrendous crime scene where five emaciated teenage girls lie murdered, each with a single gunshot to the head. It is clear that the brutalized teens were part of a sexual slavery ring. However, a sixth girl has survived and both Luke and Susannah are hopeful that she will identify her abusers.

Susannah quickly establishes a bond with the terrified and badly injured Jane Doe, but before she can begin questioning, the girl slips into a coma. The killers in the meantime are more than prepared to clean up their mess - and not just by silencing Jane Doe. As the investigation escalates, Luke and Susannah find links to a deception so intricate they aren't sure who to trust any more.

Susannah bets her life that everything hinges on the horrors that not only Simon, but her father, perpetrated years before and that she's always been to afraid to talk about. But as more clues begin to surface, her sense of outrage and guilt override the horrible memories of her childhood and early adulthood. Soon she and Luke also become the targets of a shadowy mastermind who's determined to salvage his decades-long web of sexual depravity, profit and murder.

This gripping, complex, character rich and often-disturbing story speaks to various unsavoury human conditions including revenge and greed. Certainly the most disquieting element is Rose's depiction of the cadre of human predators living in plain sight in a small town - any one of whom could be a friend or a neighbour - and who use the virtual anonymity of the Internet to lure children and teenagers into the depraved world of sexual slavery.

Luke and Susannah each shoulder plenty of dark baggage, but with Rose's usual flair for characterization, she has them experiencing believable emotional turning points as their growing love begins transcending the darkness in their souls. The only plot point that I found defied a certain element of logic is the incredibly high body count once the surviving über villain and his minions feel the net tightening around them and ultimately begin turning on each another.

Even so, Rose does an amazing job in tying off every one of the myriad plot twists that she introduced over the course of this high-octane trilogy. Kill For Me is a timely, cleverly plotted, often shocking, but thoroughly engrossing and highly recommended thriller that will stick with you long after you turn the last page.

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