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The Night Before    by Lisa Jackson order for
Night Before
by Lisa Jackson
Order:  USA  Can
Zebra, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Caitlyn Bandeux wakes from a disturbing nightmare covered in blood and unable to remember what she was doing during those crucial hours when her soon-to-be ex husband Josh was being slowly drained of life. Despite the victim's penchant for shady business dealings and known womanizing, the police believe Caitlyn has the best motive for murder -- Josh had, after all, been in the process of suing her for the wrongful death of their daughter Jamie.

Still trying to deal with the loss of her child and her husband's lawsuit, Caitlyn is having a difficult time coping with this latest crisis, especially the fact that she may have killed Josh, but can't remember. She wants to confide in her large family, but most of them are absorbed in problems of their own and have little time or patience for hers. Not even Caitlyn's twin, Kelly, offers much support. More than ever Caitlyn wishes her regular therapist were available, but she seems to have dropped of the planet.

When a colleague of her trusted, yet errant psychiatrist approaches Caitlyn at her husband's funeral and suggests she come to see him, she's leery. But with so little support from her family, Caitlyn is desperate for help and for answers, so makes an appointment with Adam Hunt for the very next day. Immediately drawn to Hunt's sympathetic nature, Caitlyn finds herself opening up and responding to the man on every level. When Kelly does finally contact Caitlyn and learns she's talking to a new therapist, she warns her twin not to trust Hunt, that he might have an agenda all his own. As Caitlyn's dreams and nightmares escalate and her memory lapses persist, and as more family members die, Caitlyn no longer knows who to trust. Who is the killer? Someone in her large and extended family? Adam Hunt? Or is she the one who's been wielding the brutal and bloody knife all along?

Lisa Jackson already has quite a few novels under her creative belt and moves from historical to contemporary romance with practiced ease. In The Night Before, she spins another well-told and very involved tale. This book is a sequel to a few previous contemporary romantic thrillers called the Blooded series, and some readers, (like myself), who started it mid-set, might find the plot twists and certain character motivations hard to follow. Caitlyn and her large dysfunctional clan also tend to discuss their problems in a few too many scenes, some of which tend to bog down the plot.

But overall Lisa Jackson's story works. She provides lots of red herrings, and does a nice job of keeping her shadowy killer's identity a secret while still allowing readers to watch through the murderer's eyes as each gruesome kill is plotted and executed. Jackson might have gone a bit too far using this device though -- by the story's end the killer's identity wasn't really a big surprise. Even so, readers of moody, character driven thrillers should enjoy The Night Before and will be on the lookout for The Morning After, the next instalment of Lisa Jackson's series.

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