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Dead Shot    by Annie Solomon order for
Dead Shot
by Annie Solomon
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Gillian Grey was only a child when she witnessed her mother's brutal murder. Since then she's been obsessed with death, and uses that fascination as a creative outlet that garners her acclaim and notoriety. The artistic community regards her photographic deathscapes as edgy and controversial. The conservative community however, considers her work indecent, and protestors regularly disrupt her shows. Her wealthy grandparents hire a private security firm to monitor an upcoming gallery opening, hoping to avoid another demonstration. Despite this, the willful Gillian is determined to make a statement and challenges her mother's killer on national television to 'come and get me'. That challenge is answered when dead women begin showing up around Nashville - their bodies posed in grisly reproductions of Gillian's provocative self-portraits.

Gillian isn't pleased when her grandparents hire additional security to guard her around the clock. Tough, by-the-book ex-cop Ray Pearce figures he should have his head examined for agreeing to take on the impossible job of keeping Gillian safe. If there was ever a woman with a death wish, it would be the smart-mouthed, headstrong - yet oddly compelling - artist. Ray wants to walk, but the more Gillian fights his advice and his presence, the more he finds himself attracted to the beautiful, yet obviously very troubled young woman. Gillian too, cannot understand the raw need she feels every time she's near Ray, especially now that she's so close to exposing her mother's killer and finally getting the chance to put both her demons to rest.

Gillian is a fascinating, rich character who chooses to deal with childhood trauma in radical ways. She's often hard to like as she repeatedly defies advice and throws herself in harm's way. Her need to force the killer's hand leads to interesting and combative relationships, particularly with Ray, who fast becomes an obstacle to her setting herself up as bait. Ray is a very likeable lead; his protective instincts are clearly defined and Solomon keeps the tension between them taut as Ray works to understand his building attraction to a deeply wounded woman who pushes him away at every opportunity. Solomon also puts a nice twist on the familiar celebrity/obsessed fan plot line, but after an exciting build-up, the eventual revelations about the killer fall flat. Even so, Dead Shot is a riveting and edgy romantic suspense that you'll want to read in a single sitting.

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