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Seeing Red    by Susan Crandall order for
Seeing Red
by Susan Crandall
Order:  USA  Can
Forever, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

While still in her teens, Ellis Greene is the only witness to the vicious murder of her cousin Laura. Ellis's identification of the killer sends Hollis Alexander to prison for the next twenty-five years, mouthing the words 'you'll pay' as guards lead him away to serve his sentence.

Fifteen years have passed and Ellis has moved on with her life as best as she can, swearing she'll never become a victim. She's an expert in self-defence and teaches what she knows to other young girls in her hometown. Even so, the horrible crime that took her beloved cousin away has left a dark shadow over her family. Her aunt and uncle have divorced and Ellis's parents are constantly worried for her safety despite her many precautions. When Hollis Alexander is unexpectedly paroled, their nightmare begins all over again as young girls resembling Laura begin showing up dead.

Nate Vance left his hometown as a pariah, with only his childhood friend Ellis believing in him. His military background and security expertise give him the means to monitor Ellis over the years, but the moment he learns that Hollis Alexander is free, Nate heads home to personally see to Ellis's safety. But his well-laid plans go awry when he's framed for the new murders. He and Ellis are forced to re-examine the past as well as their feelings for each other. But when they realise they've always loved each other and reach for their chance at happiness, they find themselves dragged ever deeper into a killer's mad plan for revenge.

Susan Crandall has created a great cast of characters, particularly in her leads: while her inner conflict often reflects a good degree of fear and anger over a situation that's all but destroyed her family, Ellis Greene is no frightened wallflower. As for Nate, Crandall keeps readers guessing about his shadowy background and about the many secrets he's kept about Laura, secrets he's refused to divulge for fear of hurting Ellis and her family all over again. Great pacing, plenty of red herrings and the poignant love story that develops between the leads makes Seeing Red Crandall's best work thus far.

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